Managing Morning Sickness with Nutrition
Advice written especially for you and us by Rosie Letts – discover the best food to eat when pregnant from our favourite Pregnancy and Fertility nutritionist. www.bumpandbeyondnutrition.com
It is believed that morning sickness affects eight out of ten pregnant women. While some women are physically sick, others feel nauseous and very tired. Generally speaking, symptoms begin at six weeks and only around one in ten unlucky ladies will continue to suffer past twenty weeks. Although morning sickness feels horrible, it is in fact a sign that your baby is healthy and functioning well. A recent review highlighted that women who endure nausea and vomiting are actually fifty per cent less likely to experience a pregnancy loss.
Unpleasant as it is, morning sickness will not harm you or your baby. However, if you think the sickness you are experiencing is worse than it should be, or if you are becoming dehydrated, then you should contact your midwife, as you may have hyperemesis and you will need special care and attention.
While the causes of morning sickness remain debatable, most experts attribute it to changing hormone levels and unbalanced blood sugar. Theorists also believe that feeling nauseous may be a reaction to certain smells and foods that could potentially harm your baby. The best way to avoid morning sickness altogether is to prepare your body for pregnancy with a rich, preconception diet, as this ensures that all your nutrient stores are as high as possible. Once you are experience morning sickness, it is not always possible to alleviate it completely, however the following tips should lessen the symptoms.
1. Eat little and often. Low blood sugar and the associated hunger pangs trigger nausea, so it is best to eat something as soon as you wake up and then frequently throughout the day to avoid the feeling of hunger. Crackers or toast should be enough to settle your stomach when you cannot keep other foods down.
2. Do not overeat! Make sure you do not overeat, since stretching the stomach can also cause nausea.
3. Drink fresh ginger tea. Ginger is fantastic for all types of nausea and is safe for pregnant women. In a review published by Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 1g of fresh ginger root a day consumed over 4 days was said to significantly reduce the symptoms of morning sickness.
4. Stay hydrated. Drink at least two litres of water daily to stay adequately hydrated, and more if you are vomiting. During pregnancy, it is important to drink small amounts of water throughout the day, and you may even find sparkling water more soothing on the stomach than still water. Top tip: if you are suffering from morning sickness, you may be losing key nutrients. As such, replenish your body with an isotonic drink or coconut water to replace lost electrolytes.
5. Get a good night’s sleep. Try to sleep for at least 8 hours per night and rest whenever you feel tired. When you are tired, you are more likely to feel nauseous.
6. Vitamins can make you feel worse! Take any vitamins and other supplements with food and plenty of water. If these are taken alone, the nutrients can overwhelm your digestive system and exacerbate your feeling of nausea.
7. Avoid fatty and spicy foods. Some women find that these food groups intensify morning sickness, so it is best to avoid these during pregnancy.
8. Visit a nutritional therapist. Insufficient stomach acid, digestive enzymes, and bile are also associated with higher vulnerability to morning sickness. A Nutritional Therapist can do a simple test to determine whether this may be a contributing factor, and recommend a supplement programme to correct any imbalances.