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Pregnancy Clinic

Morning sickness

Nausea, especially in the early weeks of pregnancy, is a common problem. However it can vary from feeling a bit queasy to getting seriously ill. The good news is that for most women it passes after the first trimester, and in the meantime there are a few tricks you can try to ease it as much as possible. It’s also good to know how to spot the more serious problem of Hyperemesis Gravidarum.

What is morning sickness?

Morning sickness is believed to be caused by the changing levels of pregnancy hormones running around your body. (These hormonal changes are necessary as they will help your body change shape, they are needed to keep the womb healthy, and they are essential for the changes that occur during labour and birth.)

The reason morning sickness is usually worse between weeks 6 and 16 is because at this point your body is still trying to get used to this new hormonal balance.

Although morning sickness can mean vomiting, sometimes it will only make you feel nauseous, though this can be just as bad.

If your sickness becomes so bad that you have a condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum – when a woman finds it so hard to keep anything down, sometimes even water, that she begins to lose weight – then you might require medical attention to replace essential nutrition. Although this condition is not so common, it is well established and with good medical care you will be able to get through your pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby.

For detailed information and support on Hyperemesis Gravidarum, visit the website of the *HER Foundation www.hyperemesis.org

Coping with morning sickness

•   Avoid your triggers

For most women triggers for nausea will include strong smells, strong-tasting food, or motion. If at all possible, try to avoid these for the time being – opt out of cooking the meals at home or choose more bland dishes. Avoid pungent household cleaning products or tasks like painting the nursery. If movement makes you feel ill, it’s worth trying motion sickness wrist bands, available at any chemist.

•   Being discreet

It is unfortunate that the early weeks in pregnancy – when you don’t necessarily want everyone to know you are pregnant – can be the very time you need to explain to your boss or your family why you feel so sick. If your days off become a problem, you do need to tell either your manager or the human resources officer as this will relieve your stress. If you make it clear that you do not wish your pregnancy to become general knowledge at this stage, they will be obliged to respect that. At home, even if you don’t want to tell all your friends and family, find one person you can trust and share your suffering – you need understanding support at this time.

•   Consider your travel arrangements

If your only route to work is on a crowded train, see if it’s possible for you to shift your hours for a few weeks – starting earlier or later. It’s hard for a young woman to get a seat on a busy train without being visibly pregnant.

•   Keeping healthy

Some experts believe that eating well – a good intake of vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates before and during pregnancy – can help stave off the worst of morning sickness. Keep a bottle of water with you and take small sips regularly. Other foods that tend to alleviate nausea are ginger (even ginger biscuits), lemon, peppermint, cucumber.

•   Getting lots of rest

Although no-one knows exactly what causes morning sickness, problems like tiredness or low blood sugar levels do tend to exacerbate it, so make sure you get plenty of rest and eat regularly. You will find that in the early weeks of pregnancy, the need to have more sleep will probably come over you anyway.


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