Pregnancy is an exciting time. The awesomeness of carrying new life in your womb. The exhilaration!
Just when you’re in the thrill of announcing the reason why you’re glowing, morning sickness hits you – nausea, possibly vomiting or retching. You develop aversions to foods you used to enjoy and an uncanny ability to pick up distinct smells no one’s bothered about.
Morning sickness can strike day or night, it can even take over your life completely. Dealing with it can be more challenging when you have a demanding job, young children to care for, housework and cooking besides.
Now at the tail-end of my fourth pregnancy and feeling relentlessly nauseated at least five months every one of them, I’ve learned there is no sole remedy that will totally eliminate morning sickness. However, you can take some steps to help you cope better.
1. Avoid Smells That Trigger Nausea
Morning sickness is often smell-related. Foul smells and potent ones, such as cooking smells, will make you nauseous. If you don’t want or can’t afford a catering service, change your food preparation and cooking style. Avoid or lessen your use of garlic, chilli, onions and belacan. Keep frying to a minimum. Boil, steam or bake to reduce your presence in the kitchen. When a “trigger smell” hits you, try inhaling the scent of freshly cut lemon.
2. Wear Comfy Clothes
If wearing anything restrictive near your belly makes you uncomfortable, ditch it. Go for low-rise pants. Or looser tops.
3. Distract Yourself
It’s hard to ignore nausea, especially when you feel it all day long. However, indulging in something you enjoy may bring momentary relief. Read a book, get lots of fresh air, go for a short walk. Exercise relieves nausea for some women, but check with your doctor before starting a physical programme. Listen to your body – if you begin feeling more queasy or tired, stop.
Unrelenting morning sickness can lead to depression. Talk about your feelings and needs to your spouse, family and friends, including other mums who have experienced the same. This can help alleviate your misery and let your loved ones know what they can do to eliminate certain causes of your nausea, such as switching to a fragrance-free soap and shampoo. Other family members can take on a greater share of the household chores. Friends can help with meals (like bringing you frozen, home-cooked food) so you cook less. Telling your employer about your morning sickness may help create a more supportive working environment.
5. Stay Hydrated
You need at least eight to 10 glasses of water a day, but what can you do if even water makes you gag? Sip throughout the day, not during meals but 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after. Try ice-cold water or lemon slices in water. If fluids won’t stay down, suck ice cubes. Eat fruits with a higher water content such as watermelons and oranges. Keep an eye on your sugar level, though.
6. Eat What You Can Tolerate
If you can’t manage a balanced diet yet, don’t worry. Your baby can catch up on her nutrients when you’re feeling better later on (hopefully) and can eat healthily. Meanwhile, try bland, dry snacks, such as plain crackers, toast, pretzels, cereals and dried fruit. High-protein foods, foods rich in vitamin B, such as yoghurt, and foods that are easy to digest are good options. Have more soups, salads, steamed vegetables, grilled white fish and lemon, fresh fruit and smoothies. Remember to keep up with a daily prenatal vitamin that contains 10mcg of vitamin D and 400mcg of folic acid.
Rich, acidic, spicy, oily or fried foods, and caffeine can upset your stomach, so avoid these. Some women find it helpful to consume foods that contain ginger or drink ginger tea (made by grated ginger steeped in hot water), but note safety concerns of using ginger during pregnancy. Ginger should be avoided in certain cases, so check with your doctor first.
7. Snack Often
Nausea is exacerbated by an empty stomach, so don’t wait till you’re hungry. Don’t eat until you’re too full either. Eat small meals often and keep simple snacks (like crackers, fruit, nuts) nearby so you can keep some food in your stomach at all times. Give yourself extra time in the morning to nibble a bit before you get out of bed. Rest a little, then get up slowly. A light bedtime snack will stabilise your blood sugar throughout the night.
8. Try Acupuncture
Different women are more affected by hormones and other nausea triggers. If you suffer from motion sickness, your morning sickness may be worse. Acupressure wristbands (also called sea bands) may help. They work by applying light pressure to a spot located inside the wrist believed to be related to nausea and vomiting. You can find these wristbands in some pharmacies.
9. Rest and Relax More
Stress and tiredness can exacerbate morning sickness. If possible, take time off work for a day, more if necessary. When you’re feeling ill, lying down to rest awhile can help. If you have a younger child who is craving for your attention, this can be a great opportunity to bond with her by cuddling together on the couch and reading aloud some of her favourite books.
10. Keep Perspective
It won’t reduce nausea, but it may help somewhat to know that feeling sick is a good indication that your pregnancy hormones are high enough to sustain a pregnancy. (This doesn’t mean that if you don’t feel sick you won’t have a healthy pregnancy.) Of course, there may be miserable days when even this fact is utterly wasted on you and you can’t imagine facing another day. Try to focus on your little one growing inside. Keep your eyes on the future and take heart in knowing that your sickness will pass.
Note: If you’re vomiting excessively every day, unable to eat and drink without being sick and losing weight, this can adversely affect you and your baby’s health. Contact your doctor immediately. You may be dehydrated and require medication, possibly treatment in hospital.
Jin Ai traded refugee work for diapers, dishes and homeschooling. She blogs about parenting, home education and life as mom to four kids (one baking) at Mama Hear Me Roar.
Image Credit: Las Vegas Guardian Express