The first symptom of pregnancy that most women experience is nausea and vomiting (though often just nausea). This can be exacerbated by a heightened sense of smell. And although it is called morning sickness this nausea can happen anytime of the day! How long it lasts each day, and how severe it is, varies greatly from woman to woman. Some women find that the only time the sickness stops is when they eat, others find that eating food is unthinkable when they are feeling sick. Some women find carbohydrates are easier to tolerate, while others find plain protein such as chicken or even omelettes easier on the stomach. Your body is likely to actually tell you what it can, or cannot tolerate, and it may be the most unlikely foods.
Be careful not to avoid your dental hygiene if brushing your teeth makes you gag. If you can’t manage a two-minute brush in the morning try and bring a toothbrush and toothpaste with you and keep your teeth brushed during the day. Otherwise you could end up with tooth and gum problems – not to mention very bad breath!
Ginger and Morning Sickness
Ginger is probably the best-known herbal remedy for morning sickness. Sucking crystallised ginger, sipping ginger tea, or even eating a ginger biscuit can help. To make ginger tea, just thinly slice about half an inch of ginger root. Pour on boiling water and steep for 10 minutes. Strain and drink hot or cold. Put a few drops of ginger essential oil on a piece of cotton wool and insert into the air vent of your car to help when travelling; put a few drops on a tissue and place beside your pillow while you sleep, or keep close by you to smell during the day.
- Avoid fatty, fried and very spicy foods.
- Vitamin B6 (100 mg or less daily) has been shown to ease symptoms of morning sickness.
- Eat a dry biscuit, toast, or cracker before you get out of bed in the morning
- Eat little, often, and slowly.
- The type of foods that are advised after a stomach bug - e.g. the BRAT diet bananas, rice, apple, toast - may be more palatable to you than other foods.
- Suck glucose sweets, or “preggie pops” if available locally.
- Visit an acupuncturist, many women find this very effective.
- Wear sea-bands (acupressure wrist bands available in most chemists)
- Avoid, if possible, the smell of cooking food.
- Try and keep your fluid intake up even if you cannot eat.
- Make sure you rinse out your mouth with water as soon as possible after vomiting.
- Other things that helped ease nausea for the mums we asked included: a pregnancy supplement containing B vitamins and zinc; homeopathic remedies; watermelon; sucking on lemon slices; sucking mints; chewing gum; keeping teeth brushed with a mint toothpaste between small snacks; drinking ginger ale and 7UP; eating salty crackers (and salted crisps!). One mum even found relief by making a tea from dried umeboshi plums she bought in an Asian food store.
This is excessive vomiting in pregnancy, and can be very distressing and debilitating. It only occurs in about 0.5% of pregnancies and can become so bad that hospitalisation, and an intravenous drip for rehydration may be required.
Talk to your carer if you have been vomiting a number of times a day, for a few days, particularly if you are unable to stomach even fluids. Your urine can be tested to see if signs of dehydration (ketones) are present, and this will let your carer know if you need to be hospitalised to receive fluids. If you suffer with true hyperemesis you may need repeated admission to hospital throughout your pregnancy for rehydration. After 12-14 weeks your doctor can prescribe anti-emetics (anti-sickness) medication.