Mummies, if you are suffering from morning sickness and vomiting during pregnancy, you might wonder why it’s all happening and if there is any relief from pregnancy nausea. We feel you. The urge to throw up frequently is one of the most miserable, ickiest feelings ever.
However, nausea during pregnancy is very common and completely normal. And if it makes you feel any better, throwing up may signify that your pregnancy hormones are working perfectly fine.
What Is Pregnancy Nausea
If you're pregnant, chances are you've been experiencing nausea. This is a normal part of the pregnancy process and is not something to worry about.
Nausea is a common symptom of morning sickness. It can begin as early as the first trimester and continue throughout pregnancy. It also tends to worsen in the morning or when you've missed a meal.
Here's what you need to know about nausea during pregnancy:
- Pregnancy nausea is different from morning sickness (you may have heard these terms used interchangeably). Morning sickness refers to nausea and vomiting that occur early in pregnancy and then end in the first trimester.
- Pregnancy nausea can last throughout your entire pregnancy and may be caused by many factors, including hormonal changes and increased blood flow to your digestive tract.
What Is Morning Sickness
Morning sickness is a condition that affects many women during pregnancy. It occurs in the early stages, when the baby is developing in your uterus.
Morning sickness can cause nausea, vomiting and other symptoms like abdominal pain, fatigue and headaches. In some cases, it may last throughout your entire pregnancy.
Although morning sickness usually goes away after about 12 weeks of pregnancy, some women continue to experience milder versions of this condition until the end of their pregnancies.
When Does Nausea Start During Pregnancy
It is important to know when to expect your symptoms and how long they'll last. Some women may experience nausea throughout their pregnancies, while others only have it for a few weeks or months.
In the first trimester, nausea is the most common symptom. Nausea usually starts around the sixth week of pregnancy, but it may start as early as the fifth week or as late as the ninth week. You may have nausea for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The severity of your symptoms will also depend on how far along your pregnancy. If you're beginning to feel queasy, there's no need to worry—it's normal for some women to feel sick before they even know they're pregnant!
If your symptoms are severe and persistent, talk with your doctor about what steps you can take to manage them.
What Causes Pregnancy Nausea?
High levels of pregnancy hormones cause nausea during pregnancy. It shows that the hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) is being produced in large quantities.
hCG is the hormone that ensures the baby gets adequate nourishment from your body, especially in the early weeks.
Other hormones contributing to nausea during pregnancy are oestrogen and stress hormones like cortisol. The deficiency of certain nutrients, like vitamin B6, may be another cause of this condition.
The good news is that pregnancy nausea does not harm the baby. Most mums start feeling better after their first trimester (around weeks 12-14). A few, however, experience symptoms into the second trimester. An unfortunate few have nausea throughout their pregnancy.
Some mums experience pregnancy nausea called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), where they struggle to keep down even water. This condition can cause dehydration and loss of weight and leave you malnourished, so it’s best to seek medical attention immediately.
How to Stop Pregnancy Nausea: Self-care Tips
Suffering from nausea might seem like a rather bleak way of starting your pregnancy journey, but fret not. These simple lifestyle changes and self-care tips might help you in getting relief from pregnancy nausea:
Eat small, frequent meals
An empty stomach can worsen nausea, so ensure you have your meals early and on time. It is also advisable to avoid large meals, which can make the tummy feel full, and opt for small, frequent meals instead.
Eat slowly and take your time to chew your food.
Avoid foods or smells that can make you sick. Also, avoid oily, fatty and spicy food.
Choose food high in protein and carbohydrates, low in fat and easy to digest. Bananas, rice, crackers, applesauce and toast, are good options.
Salty foods are also known to be helpful, and so are foods that contain ginger.
Drink plenty of water and fluids
As with food, taking small sips of fluid throughout the day might prove helpful. Aim for 6 to 8 cups of non-caffeinated fluids daily. Avoid drinks that are too cold or sweet.
Avoid alcohol. It is bad for the baby and bad for morning sickness.
Get plenty of sleep and rest
Tiredness can make nausea worse. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Even better if you can take short naps in between.
Avoid rushing and getting out of bed too quickly.
Stress can make your symptoms a lot worse. If you feel too stressed, try to reduce your workload. Take some time out to relax and de-stress every day. Meditation might help you relax and get rid of negative thoughts.
Don’t smoke, and stay away from second-hand smoke
Besides increasing the chances of nausea, smoking during pregnancy affects your and your baby's health before, during, and after birth.
Smoking can cause premature birth and certain birth defects. It is also a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
The same holds for mummies exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy. They have an increased chance of having a stillbirth, a low birth weight baby, a baby with birth defects, and other pregnancy complications.
Make sure that your room is well-ventilated. Find time to take outdoor walks. Walking and being on the move is also good exercise for blood circulation.
Try these natural remedies
Try having ginger drinks. You can boil fresh ginger slices to make ginger tea that is caffeine-free and safe to drink. Another refreshing beverage, especially if you don’t like the strong taste of ginger, is to drink ginger ale.
Suck on energy sweets or peppermints. They are also great at refreshing your mouth and relieving that sick feeling.
Many pregnant mums often crave sour food, which may be partly because sour food can reduce nausea. Aside from citric fruits like oranges, lemons, grapefruit and berries, you can also try eating preserved foods like pickles and jams.
Some mummies swear by alternative methods like acupressure.
There is a special acupressure point located on your wrist that can help alleviate nausea. The “inner gate” can be found around one and a half inches up your wrist. Locate the spot between the two bones, and press down hard on the nerve for at least two minutes.
You could also buy a “sea sickness band” from a pharmacy and wear it on your wrist. It stimulates the same acupressure point that helps to reduce nausea.
A little extra vitamin B6 has reduced morning sickness symptoms in some patients.
Scientists don’t know precisely why B6 affects nausea, but it could be related to how it breaks down amino acids and helps produce neurotransmitters. It also stimulates the production of red blood cells, which is very important for the baby's health.
Eggs, meat, whole grains and nuts are some food rich in Vitamin B6. The vitamin can also be taken in supplement form.
Do note that high doses of Vitamin B6 are harmful to your baby. So don’t take more than 200 mg a day, and always consult a doctor before taking supplements during pregnancy.
Image source: iStock
Foods That Fight Nausea During Pregnancy
Pregnancy nausea can be a real pain. It's uncomfortable and doesn't just affect you—it affects your whole family! But don't worry—we've got your back. Here are some foods that will help keep pregnancy nausea at bay:
Bananas are full of fibre, which helps fill you up while providing nutrients to your body. They're also rich in potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure.
This super-rich dairy product is full of protein, which will help your body get the energy it needs to fight off nausea.
This fruity drink has enzymes that help break down proteins in food and make them easier for your body to digest, so it shouldn't give you any trouble when it comes time for lunch or dinner!
For ginger, it has been shown to reduce nausea in pregnant women by up to 70 per cent! It's an anti-inflammatory with anti-nausea properties, so it can help relieve symptoms related to morning sickness, food aversions, heartburn, and morning sickness caused by motion sickness or other factors.
Yoghurt contains live cultures that may help prevent diarrhoea or constipation during pregnancy—and there are plenty of brands fortified with probiotics specifically designed for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
This natural electrolyte drink is low in sugar but high in nutrients such as potassium and magnesium, which can help prevent dehydration when you're feeling nauseous from morning sickness (or any other reason).
Aside from these, make sure to stay hydrated. Water is the best thing for your body right now, and it helps you feel less nauseous. Coconut water has some added benefits for pregnant women too.
Finally, eat something salty! Salty foods like pickles can help settle your stomach and make you less nauseous during pregnancy.
If none of these work for you, talk to your doctor about other options—there may be some medications that can help too!
Relief From Pregnancy Nausea: Medical Treatment Options
Mums, if the above self-help measures and lifestyle changes don’t help, and if the vomiting continues to be severe, you might want to consult your doctor for anti-sickness medication.
If you have hyperemesis gravidarum, you may need to be treated with intravenous (IV) fluids and anti-nausea medications in the hospital.
Note that moderate to severe pregnancy nausea and vomiting during pregnancy can also cause dehydration and an imbalance of electrolytes (such as sodium or potassium).
Several prescription medications are safe to take during pregnancy for nausea and vomiting. Avoid taking any over-the-counter medications or supplements during pregnancy, as these may have undesirable side effects.
Your doctor can recommend a safe option for you based on the severity of your symptoms.
The doctor is most likely to recommend an anti-sickness medicine, called an antiemetic, that is safe to use in pregnancy. They might make you feel drowsy, though (do check with your doctor on the side effects).
Antiemetics are usually given out as tablets to be swallowed. But if you can't keep them down, you might need an injection or suppository to stop the vomiting.
When to Seek Urgent Medical Attention
Mums, remember to seek medical attention for pregnancy nausea immediately if you notice other symptoms below:
- have very dark-coloured urine or have not had a pee in more than 8 hours
- are unable to keep food or fluids down for 24 hours
- feel severely weak, dizzy or faint when standing up
- have tummy (abdominal) pain
- have pain or blood when you pee
- have lost weight
These can be signs of dehydration or a urine infection.
Remember, mums, feeling lightheaded or nauseous is common in pregnancy. But if you experience severe pain or your nausea is interfering with your daily life, consult your OB-gynaecologist without delay.
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it's important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn't serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.