Pregnancy can be a very exciting and special time, characterised by images of the happy, glowing mum-to-be. Whilst this may be the case for some, nausea and morning sickness can make early pregnancy a miserable time for many mums-to-be.
If you’re experiencing morning sickness, the first thing to know is that this is a very normal part of pregnancy, and won’t damage your baby’s growth or development. It will also be a comfort to know that, in most cases, it won’t last for more than a few weeks.
Short-term pregnancy sickness is very common, affecting around seven out of ten pregnant women. It commonly starts between weeks 6 to 9, is usually at its worst around weeks 9 and 10, and then should start to disappear around weeks 12 to 14. Many women worry when the sickness starts to disappear but this is a very normal part of pregnancy. You can always talk to your obstetrician if you are worried.
Although we are unable to determine exactly why pregnancy sickness occurs, there are a number of strategies that you can try to help reduce the severity of your symptoms.
1. Eat little and often
An empty stomach causes nausea because your stomach acids have nothing to feast on but your stomach lining. Try keeping some food in your stomach at all times, ideally eating every two hours.
2. Eat before you get out of bed
The term ‘morning sickness’ came about as women most commonly experience nausea as soon as they get out of bed. This is actually because your stomach is empty after going without food overnight. Try keeping some snacks by your bedside so that you can eat a little before you rise.
3. Stay hydrated
Getting your eight glasses a day can seem like a monumental effort when you’re having a hard time keeping anything down. But it’s essential to stay hydrated because dehydration will only increase your nausea. Try drinking between meals if you’re finding it hard to keep fluids down, and limit drinks during meals. You can try sucking ice cubes if you are vomiting fluids. You also may find it helpful to experiment with temperatures, as you may find icy cold or very hot water more palatable.
4. Avoid strong smelling food and drink
There are certain food smells that seem to trigger pregnancy sickness more than others. This is particularly so if the food is hot, fried or spicy. If this is the case for you, you can try eating cold food for a while. This may also deliver a nutrition bonus as cold foods retain all the vitamins they would otherwise lose in the cooking process. For some women, avoiding acidic foods may also help.
5. Avoid long car rides
Whether or not you normally suffer from travel sickness, you may find that it becomes an issue whilst you are pregnant. Try travelling in the front of the car and avoid reading or looking down. Ensure that the car is well ventilated unless you are in a traffic jam when the fumes can make things worse.
6. Seek help if symptoms become severe
Occasionally pregnancy sickness is very severe causing constant and uncontrolled vomiting. It’s important to seek help if your symptoms become severe as this can lead to dehydration and rapid weight loss. This condition is known as Severe Pregnancy Vomiting and usually requires medical treatment, which may result in a short hospital stay.
If you’re experiencing pregnancy nausea or sickness, you can speak to one of our obstetricians or midwives, who are able to help you manage morning sickness.
Dr Robyn Aldridge enjoys caring for women for their obstetric or gynaecological care.
Dr Aldridge has two children of her own and understands the joy, excitement and enormous changes that a pregnancy and a baby can bring to your life. She has extensive knowledge, specialist skills and experience in: obstetrics, caesarean section, intrauterine device placement and menstrual disorders.