Morning sickness is a common symptom experienced by many pregnant individuals, typically during the first trimester of pregnancy. It is characterized by nausea and sometimes vomiting, although it can occur at any time of the day, not just in the morning. Morning sickness can vary in severity from mild to severe and can have a significant impact on a pregnant person’s quality of life.
Morning sickness usually begins around the sixth week of pregnancy and often peaks around the ninth week. For most individuals, it tends to improve or resolve by the end of the first trimester (around the 12th week). However, in some cases, it may persist into the second trimester or even throughout the entire pregnancy.
The exact cause of morning sickness is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to hormonal changes, particularly the increase in human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and oestrogen during pregnancy. Other factors, such as a heightened sense of smell, may also contribute.
Common symptoms of morning sickness include nausea, vomiting, and an aversion to certain foods and smells. Some pregnant individuals may experience only mild nausea, while others may have more severe symptoms that can lead to dehydration and weight loss. Though uncomfortable and unpleasant, morning sickness usually doesn’t harm the baby.
While it’s not always possible to completely eliminate morning sickness, there are several strategies and remedies that can help alleviate its symptoms. Keep in mind that what works for one person may not work for another, so it may take some trial and error to find what works best for you. Given below are some tips to manage morning sickness:
- Eat Small, Frequent Meals: Instead of three large meals, try eating several small meals throughout the day. Even if you do not feel like eating, do not skip meals. Eating mostly eases morning sickness symptoms and empty stomach makes them worse. Keep some healthy snacks available to eat in between meals. Protein rich foods also help in feeling better. A sprout or chana chaat or a paneer snack might be a good idea.
- Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can make nausea worse. Sip water, fresh juices or fruits, ginger tea, or clear broths throughout the day to stay hydrated. Avoid large amounts of liquids during meals to prevent overfilling your stomach.
- Foods that might help: Ginger is a natural remedy for nausea. You can try ginger tea, ginger candies, or ginger ale. Some people also find ginger supplements helpful. Regularly add some ginger to your food for better digestion. Other flavours that might help are Chamomile, Lemon, Orange, Peppermint. Try sour flavours as they usually curb nausea feeling. A glass of fresh lemonade, a lemon candy, imli candy, anardana goli or aam papad may help . You may use mint chutney or tomato chutney as a dip for snacks.
- Avoid Triggers: Identify foods, smells, or activities that trigger your morning sickness and avoid them if possible. Common triggers include strong odours, fatty or spicy foods, and exposure to heat. Avoid spicy food and hot environment. In fact, bland foods like banana and rice might help in relieving symptoms. Try to stay in a cool, well-ventilated environment.
- Acupressure Bands: Some people find relief from morning sickness by wearing acupressure wristbands (often marketed as “sea bands”). These bands apply pressure to a specific point on the wrist that is believed to alleviate nausea.
- Take good care of yourself : Healthy lifestyle choices can help you and your baby healthy and also ward off nausea in the process. Get a good night sleep , do regular exercise and get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. All of these can help keep nausea and morning sickness at bay. Fatigue can worsen morning sickness. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and rest as and when required throughout the day.
- Prefer sitting to lying down : When we don’t feel well, we prefer lying down. But that is not the best choice for pregnancy nausea. Also avoid lying down after meals as this can cause the gastric juices in your stomach to rise and hinders digestion contributing to that queasy feeling.
- Aromatherapy: Some scents, such as lemon or mint, can help alleviate nausea. You can try inhaling these scents or using essential oils (make sure they are safe during pregnancy) in a diffuser.
- Prescription Medications and supplements: In severe cases, your healthcare provider may prescribe anti-nausea medications. But do not pop these pills without doctor’s advice as these might have side effects. Talk to your doctor about taking vitamin B6 supplements. It’s been shown to help reduce nausea in some pregnant individuals when taken at recommended doses.
- Hypnotherapy or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): These therapies can help some individuals manage nausea and vomiting by addressing the psychological aspects of morning sickness.
Keep yourself moderately active and busy. Mind focusses more on the symptoms when you are not occupied elsewhere. Also, prefer to wear loose and comfortable clothing to feel at ease.
Some pregnant women experience a severe form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum. This condition is characterized by extreme nausea and vomiting, which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. It may require hospitalization and intravenous (IV) fluids and medications to manage symptoms. If you are experiencing severe morning sickness, are unable to keep any food or fluids down, or are losing weight, or any other unusual symptoms it’s essential to seek medical attention. Dehydration and malnutrition can be harmful to both the pregnant person and the developing foetus.
In most cases, morning sickness does not harm the developing foetus and is a normal part of pregnancy. However, if it becomes severe and leads to dehydration and malnutrition, it can pose risks to both the pregnant individual and the baby. In that case, consult a doctor immediately.