Pregnancy is such a wonderful time-a chance for your body to prove just how marvellous it can be, by growing a whole new person! And the books promise it all, from glowing skin to thicker hair and healthy nails, to a boundless energy that sees you swim, walk for miles and smile at all who you meet… But not always, and certainly not in the early days for lots of women. Morning sickness affects around half of all pregnant women, to varying degrees and for varying lengths of time, and it can be a really miserable time for some.
Most women find that the symptoms ease at around 12 weeks as the placenta takes over some of the leg work, but how to cope until then? It can feel like the longest time ever, especially if you are keeping it quiet until after the first scan, as many families choose to do. Luckily there are some natural remedies that you can try to ease your symptoms, so that you don’t have to suffer in silence.
Your midwife may have already recommended a good multi vitamin tablet, with folic acid to help the developing baby, but it is also said that taking Vitamin B6 could help to ease the symptoms of morning sickness too. Doctors believe that a mix of hormones and a lack of this vitamin is the cause of nausea and sickness in pregnancy, and studies have shown that women who take a supplement experience a reduction in symptoms.
Most women are able to get enough vitamin B6 just by making a few dietary adjustments. Foods rich in the vitamin include bananas, nuts, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, lean meats, and fish. If you think that you need a supplement, speak to your GP who can prescribe the correct dosage for you.
Pregnancy is certainly no time to be squeamish when it comes to needles (they’ll be taking lots of blood from you over the coming weeks!) so for those with nerves of steel, acupuncture might be worth a try. It can help to regulate the enormous changes that occur in the body during the early stages of pregnancy and many women swear by this alternative therapy.
Acupuncture works by restoring balance in the body and dealing with blockages to what the Chinese call qi. It’s an ancient practise that many swear has helped them with the symptoms of morning sickness, even in it’s severest form (Hypermesis Gravidarum). Added to this, many say that acupuncture can be used to treat heartburn, hemorrhoids and sciatica pain.
Like acupuncture, acupressure has been shown to relieve symptoms of morning sickness, even when it is very severe. It works by applying pressure on certain points in the body, and can also help to relieve back pain and other ailments too. Many women swear by the acupressure bands that are easily found in most chemists (used mainly to treat travel sickness).
*It is essential that your practitioner during your acupressure and acupuncture sessions is fully trained and qualified to work with pregnant women. Your treatment should not take more than one hour, and make sure you speak to your midwife immediately if you experience pain or contractions following your treatment.
Reflexology is another ancient practise, use to treat illness and based on the theory that certain areas on the hands and feet are linked to other parts of the body. By applying pressure to certain points, reflexology can relieve pain and symptoms of sickness in other areas. Lots of women swear by the power of reflexology to ease symptoms of morning sickness, so it could be worth a visit if you’re suffering. Experts believe that symptoms of depression and anxiety can also be treated successfully. However, it is also worth noting that some women have reported symptoms temporarily worsening after a session of reflexology, before improvement has been noted. It’s vital that you inform your practitioner that you are pregnant so that appropriate treatment can be administered.
An easy enough tip to give, but not always so easy to administer. Studies have found that women who experience stress during their pregnancy are more likely to suffer from morning sickness and nausea, and those who do find that their symptoms worsen when they are feeling under pressure. If this sounds like you, it’s important to take some time for relaxation when you can. Try the following:
● Prenatal yoga/ pilates
● Gentle exercise such as swimming or walking
● Take regular naps
● Avoid stressful situations where you can, and cut down on work hours if you’re able to
By reducing stress, you may be able to reduce symptoms of morning sickness too, so make sure that those around you are away of your need to rest as much as you can.
Nature’s life force. A dehydrated body does not function well, and if you are vomiting during pregnancy it is even more important to replace lost fluids. Water is essential for well-being whether you are pregnant or not,so it’s a great idea to always keep a bottle with you wherever you go.
Eat well and often
Your diet during pregnancy is very important, and more so if you’re suffering from morning sickness. No doubt there are times where eating is the last thing on your mind, but it’s important to keep your strength up. While we agree that eating whatever you can stomach is probably the most tempting solution, do try to look at other alternatives if all you are craving is junk food or worse. Greasy, fatty food is known to worsen symptoms of morning sickness, so avoid these foods if you can.
Try, if you can, to eat a balanced diet of:
It’s also a good idea to eat little and often, as many women report that nausea increases with hunger. Foods with a low GI are a good idea as they keep you fuller for longer, so make sure you always have a packet of oatcakes or similar in your bag for when nausea strikes.
Ginger is most likely to be the first thing that people think of when you tell them that you are suffering with morning sickness- but there’s av very good reason for that! The benefits of ginger have long been documented and there are studies that have shown its effectiveness in easing symptoms of morning sickness. Used in many Chinese remedies, ginger is especially useful for women who are feeling cold too, due to it’s warming properties. You can eat it in biscuit form (although not too many!), drink it in tea, or add it to your hot water and lemon for an extra boost of anti-nausea goodness.
Peppermint has been known to help women suffering bouts of morning sickness and the good news is that is it readily available. Drink it as tea, suck on mints, or even inhale peppermint oil. All have been known to settle the stomach and all are completely safe.
Lemon has many healing and soothing properties and easing the symptoms of morning sickness is just one of its super powers. Lots of women say that just smelling a lemon helps to alleviate nausea and others claim to have symptoms eased by squeezing it into water to drink. Alternatively, you can add a slice to hot water in the mornings to help with digestive issues too. Lemons have a natural calming effect which can really help symptoms of morning sickness, and like peppermints, they are cheap and easy to get hold of too.
Rest, rest and more rest
Sometimes, morning sickness can be so awful that there is nothing else you can do besides sleep. The more you are able to rest, the stronger you will be, and therefore you will feel more able to cope with your symptoms. Lots of women report that sickness and nausea is worsened when they are tired or feeling run down, so it really is important to take time out when you need to. Talk to your partner, family and friends and make sure they are aware of how you’re feeling. When you need to rest, listen to your body, and accept help when it is offered.
When morning sickness is really bad
Severe pregnancy sickness is called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) and affects around 2% of pregnant women. HG usually occurs fairly early on in pregnancy, and can cause near constant vomiting and nausea for a number of weeks, if not throughout the whole pregnancy. Of course, this is fairly extreme, but if you do experience severe vomiting and nausea it is important to see a doctor in case of dehydration. In some cases, other treatment may be necessary.