Friday, September 26, 2014

Relieving Nausea in Pregnancy

For many women, the first sign they have of pregnancy is the dreaded morning sickness. We've seen the scene in the movies a hundred times. Just when she thinks she's coming down with that stomach bug that's going around,
she notices a calendar and realizes she's missed a period. This could only mean one thing: she's pregnant!



What is Morning Sickness?

"Morning Sickness" describes nausea or vomiting that can occur any time of the day during pregnancy. More than 50% of women experience nausea and/or vomiting during pregnancy [i]. Many women feel the most discomfort first thing in the morning, but it can happen any time. Most pregnant women experience more nausea than normal during pregnancy, and some may actually vomit. 

What Causes Morning Sickness?

The real answer is no one knows exactly why pregnant women experience more nausea than usual, but it may have to do with the hormonal changes, the growing uterus and shifting internal organs, or the body's need for more calories and nutrients more often. The fact that many women experience nausea early in the day may have to do with having fasted from food and water during the sleep of the night. It's common to feel sick to your stomach if you go too long without eating, so for many expectant mommies, morning is the worst of the nausea. Many women experience heightened sensitivity to odors during pregnancy, so unpleasant smells can also contribute to nausea. If you have had exposure to increased amounts of estrogen, as in a hormonal birth control, you may be more likely to experience morning sickness [ii].

Relieving Nausea in Pregnancy

The good news is there are things you can do to eliminate or at least minimize and manage your nausea during pregnancy. Here's a list of helpful hints:

  • Protein - Usually when we feel sick, what we really want to munch on is something high in starch and carbohydrate content like crackers or toast. If you are very sick and carbs are all you can handle, eating anything is better than eating nothing, especially if you are losing weight; however, if you can include lean, nutrient rich proteins each time you eat you will have a better chance at fighting the nausea.
  • Smaller Meals More Often - It's important for expectant mothers to eat often and try not to get overly hungry. For many this helps ward off the nausea. If you are used to eating three large meals during the day, consider breaking those up into 6-8 smaller meals or snacks. This can also help you avoid heart burn.
  • Drink Plenty of Water - "The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink about 10 cups (2.3 liters) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume about 13 cups (3.1 liters ) of fluids a day [iii]." Be sure to stay hydrated throughout the day, and it's a good idea to drink water before and after a meal.
  • Try to Avoid High Fat and Greasy Foods - "Fatty, greasy foods take longer to digest and their smalls can upset the stomach. [v]"
  • Consider Alternative Treatments - Although they don't work for everyone, some women find acupuncture, hypnosis, herbal remedies and essential oils to be extremely helpful in relieving nausea during pregnancy [v]. Ginger root, peppermint essential oil, and fennel essential oil are some of a few possible remedies. 
When Should I be Concerned?

Most women outgrow their morning sickness around 12-14 weeks of pregnancy, or early in the second trimester. Then there are about 60,000 women in the United States alone who report extreme nausea and vomiting that lasts longer, and in some cases for the duration of pregnancy [iv]. This condition is referred to as Hyperemesis, Hyperemesis Gravidarum.

If you are losing weight, or experiencing dizziness and dehydration, you should talk to your healthcare provider about treatment for Hyperemesis. There are medications available and you may need IV fluids due to extreme dehydration. 

At Honeybee Mama I want to show mothers they don't have to be afraid of childbirth and that they can have the birth experience they truly desire. I'm committed to getting you the tools and resources you need to make informed decisions about your birth. If you have questions about any of the symptoms you're experiencing in pregnancy, contact me or schedule your first conversation today!

References:

[i] American Pregnancy Association, Morning Sickness, http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/morning-sickness-during-pregnancy/
[ii] Mayo Clinic, Morning Sickness, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/morning-sickness/basics/risk-factors/con-20033445
[iii] May Clinic, Nutrition and Healthy Eating, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256?pg=2
[iv] American Pregnancy Association, Hyperemesis Gravidarum, http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/hyperemesis-gravidarum/
[v] Hancock Regional Hospital, Treating Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy, http://www.hancockregionalhospital.org/patients/andis-womens-and-childrens-department/treating-nausea-vomiting-during-pregnancy

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