What is Morning Sickness?
This is a common complaint of women in the early months of their pregnancy. It refers to a feeling of nausea or actual vomiting. It is particularly common during the first trimester (three months) of a pregnancy. In rare cases, morning sickness is still experienced after the first trimester. Morning sickness, despite its name, may occur at any time during the day although it is indeed commonest in the morning. The medical name for morning sickness is nausea gravidarum. Severe vomiting is referred to as hyperemesis gravidarum.
What are the Symptoms of Morning Sickness?
Most women who suffer morning sickness suffer no complications. In rare cases, the vomiting becomes severe and prolonged, a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum. This may cause dehydration, nutritional deficiencies and weight loss. The symptoms to watch out for are:
- Dizziness or fainting.
- Passing less urine than normal or passing urine that is dark.
These symptoms suggest dehydration and require medical attention. Women who become dehydrated need to be admitted to hospital for replacement of lost fluids and chemicals through a drip. If treated quickly, dehydration will not harm your baby.
What are the Causes of Morning Sickness?
The exact cause is unknown but it is almost definitely related to hormonal changes which take place during pregnancy. It may also be associated with an imbalance in blood sugar levels.
Traditional Medical Treatments for Morning Sickness
These steps can help reduce Morning Sickness: Eat small meals frequently, even if you are not hungry. Eating a small amount every two to three hours is much better then having two or three large meals. An empty stomach will increase the chances of nausea. Foods high in protein and carbohydrates can help fight nausea. Avoid spicy and fatty foods. Drink plenty of fluid. Aim for 10 – 12 glasses a day. However avoid alcohol and drinks containing caffeine. Avoid stressful situations and try to relax as often as possible. Try to get fresh air every day even if this is just by taking a short walk. It may help to eat a small snack before you go to bed or as soon as you wake up. Leave a snack such as crackers next to your bed for when you wake up, Take it slowly when you are getting out of bed. Do not brush your teeth immediately after eating as this can cause vomiting. Some women find ginger tea helpful in settling their nausea.
Complementary/Alternative Treatments for Morning Sickness
A controlled trial found that acupuncture significantly reduced symptoms in women with hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy that usually requires hospitalization. Treatment consisted of acupuncture at a single point on the forearm three times daily for two consecutive days. Acupressure (in which pressure, rather than needles, is used to stimulate acupuncture points) has also been found in several preliminary trials to be mildly effective in the treatment of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.