During the first weeks of pregnancy, dramatic hormonal changes occur in many women that leads to slight nausea and even vomiting—a condition known as “morning sickness.” Frequently, this symptom is also the first noticeable sign of pregnancy.
Symptoms of morning sickness
These symptoms can also occur at other times of the day, but for most women they’re most distinct in the morning. Morning sickness affects approximately half of all pregnant women and usually occurs between the first and third months of pregnancy. After that, it becomes much less frequent as your hormonal balance stabilizes. The duration and intensity of the nausea vary from woman to woman.
While the reason nausea occurs during pregnancy is not fully understood yet, scientist attribute morning sickness to hormones—especially the hormone chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) since high hCG levels often cause nausea. The good news: Between the 12th and 18th week of pregnancy, morning sickness begins to decrease again as hCG levels also decrease. Before this time, many women may experience an aversion to certain foods and dishes. An international study conducted by Cornell University suggests that women reject certain foods in order to protect the fetus.
To prevent morning sickness, it helps to eat several small meals throughout the day and avoid food that is rich in fats or deep-fried. Recommendable snacks are oatmeal, yogurt, fruits and nuts. It’s helpful to put a piece of bread or a saltine cracker next to your bed and eat it upon waking in order to soothe your stomach. If you do feel the urge to vomit, ginger ale, soda water, peppermints or various mild blends of tea like chamomile and peppermint tea may help calm your stomach. Ginger also helps soothe the stomach. It is important to drink enough fluids to replenish those you lose due to vomiting. Drinking enough prevents dehydration! Other measures you can take to reduce morning sickness include keeping a diary in which you regularly write down how you feel to identify which time of day you feel better or worse. Coconut oil, which can help balance blood sugar levels and settle an upset stomach, has been found to help ease the pain and symptoms of morning sickness, nausea and heartburn. It is also important to make time for relaxation since stress and fatigue can amplify your nausea. Aromatherapy and homeopathy may also help relieve your symptoms. In addition, vitamins, especially vitamin B6, are known to counteract nausea. If necessary, your doctor can prescribe you an appropriate supplement. Some pregnant women swear by acupressure bands that are worn around the wrist to reduce nausea. If your morning sickness is severe or lasts for more than a couple of months, please contact your doctor immediately so that he or she can prescribe the necessary medication for you if necessary.
Morning sickness isn’t all bad
Even if nausea during pregnancy can be annoying and uncomfortable, researchers say that morning sickness also has a positive effect. According to the Cornell study, women who struggle with morning sickness have a significantly higher probability of giving birth to a healthy baby.