Useful information on the causes of morning sickness in pregnancy plus remedies and treatments designed to beat the nausea.
Morning sickness (also called "nausea and vomiting of pregnancy," or "NVP") affects between 50 and 85 percent of all pregnant women. It is not confined to the morning: nausea can occur at any time of the day. The cause is not known, and there are a number of theories to explain it:
- An increase in the hormone progesterone relaxes the muscles in the uterus, which prevents early pregnancy labour, but may also relax the stomach and intestines, leading to excess stomach acids.
- An increase in hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin).
- An increase in sensitivity to odours.
- Eating vegetables. One theory is that the small amounts of toxins vegetables produce to deter insect infestation are normally harmless to humans but extremely dangerous to embryos; therefore, becoming nauseous during pregnancy was an evolutionary measure to protect the embryo. Other studies however have linked consumption of fruits and vegetables to higher birth weights (higher birth weights tend to mean healthier babies).
For 50% of all sufferers, it ends by the 16th week of pregnancy. Studies have shown that women who suffer from NVP are less likely to have miscarriages.
Nausea can be one of the most trying problems in early pregnancy. It comes at a time when you may be feeling tired and emotional, and when many people around you may not realise you are pregnant and expect you to be your normal self.
Things that may help with the nausea:
- If you feel sick first thing in the morning, give yourself time to get up slowly. If possible, eat something like dry toast or a plain biscuit before you get up. Your partner could bring you some sweet tea.
- Get plenty of rest and sleep whenever you can. Feeling tired can make the sickness worse.
- Eat small amounts often rather than several large meals, but don't stop eating.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Ask those close to you for extra support.
- Distract yourself as much as you can. Often the nausea gets worse the more you think about it.
- Avoid the foods and smells that make you feel worse. It helps if someone else can cook but, if not, go for bland, non-greasy foods such as baked potatoes, pasta and milk puddings, which are simple to prepare.
- Remedies containing ginger may be helpful.
- Wear comfortable clothes. Tight waistbands can make you feel worse.
If you are being sick all the time and cannot keep anything down then inform your doctor or midwife.