How to treat morning sickness

Nadine Wilson

Monday, December 24, 2012

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MOTHERS will tell you that the term "morning sickness" is a bit of a misnomer, because the nausea and roller coaster-like feeling that some pregnant women encounter occur throughout the day.

"Morning sickness is the vomiting and the nausea that you get during the early part of pregnancy which is more pronounced, as the name suggests, in the morning," explained general surgeon Dr Alfred Dawes.

While some expectant mothers can deal with these symptoms on their own, there are others who experience a more severe form of morning sickness and might need to have medical treatment. Extreme morning sickness is known in the medical community as hyperemesis gravidarum, and affects just a small amount of women. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, recently became a part of this minority after she experienced this medical condition and had to be placed under supervised care.

Morning sickness usually begins during the first month of pregnancy and generally continues throughout the third or fourth month. It would not necessarily affect the baby unless a mother loses a lot of weight. According to Dr Dawes, morning sickness, "is usually due to hormonal surges that occur at that time of pregnancy."

Some researchers even suggest that certain women are psychologically predisposed to having nausea and vomiting during pregnancy in response to stress. Here are some ways to treat the issue.

1. Consume more ginger. Ginger is very good at aiding digestion and has also been found to assist in eliminating nausea. It can be used to make tea, can be grated and added to fruit smoothies, or it can be blended and added to a variety of dishes. You can also drink some ginger ale as well to get that calming feeling when your stomach doesn't feel so well.

2. Drink a lot of water. It's important that you are always hydrated, and one way to guarantee this is to always have water on hand. This is especially important if you vomit a lot, as this means that you would have lost some fluids. "Even if you can't drink a lot of it at one time, you should try to sip a little bit of it throughout the day," advised Dr Dawes. 

3. Have crackers nearby. These are great during the mornings and late at nights when you are feeling nauseous. Some medical experts are of the view that a few saltine crackers before rushing out of bed can help to settle your stomach. They say they help to soak up acid that has accumulated throughout the night, and in this regard would help to curtail the feeling of wanting to throw up.

3. Try lemon drops. Lemon and mint flavoured drinks, teas and sweets are great for morning sickness because they help to soothe the stomach. The citrus taste and scent of lemon have a natural calming effect that would not impact your baby. You can have lemon candy or you could purchase lemon candles and essential oils as well, to combat nausea.

4. Avoid too much spices. Try as much as possible to avoid fried, overly seasoned or acidic foods as they can be rough on your digestive tract. It would be better to select foods that are bland in taste, such as bananas, toast and yoghurt.

5. Re-position yourself. You should always strive to stay in an upright position after eating as this will help to prevent heartburn. "You shouldn't eat and lie down even if you are not pregnant," said Dr Dawes. Also consider your position when sleeping as well. Try to lie slightly elevated on your left side, as by doing so, you'll keep your uterus from squeezing your liver and thereby improve circulation to your heart. 

6. Keep small snacks near. It's important that you never keep your stomach empty, even if you do not have much of an appetite. Try to have small meals throughout the day and snack on healthy foods such as fruits and almonds. Have some snacks on your bedtime table at nights as well, so you won't have to leave your bed if you have the bedtime munchies. "You want to keep your glucose levels up throughout the day, especially since you are vomiting," said the doctor.

7. Take your vitamins. Research has shown that vitamin B-6 does help with easing morning sickness, however, Dr Dawes said there is no definitive proof of this. Still, he said the "B-vitamins complex on a whole affects the neurological system, so you may get a calming effect with it." You could check with your health care provider to see whether taking it would be good for you.

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