Practical advice for new parents

Morning Sickness

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Of all the symptoms associated with pregnancy, morning sickness is one of the most common and debilitating. Usually starting in the sixth to eighth week of pregnancy, morning sickness usually presents itself in the form of nauseousness and vomiting. While the length of sickness experienced by pregnant women will vary from person to person, it commonly subsides by the start of the second trimester (although it can also extend well into the third trimester also). It is estimated that over 75 percent of women will experience some form of sickness at some point during a pregnancy.

The term 'morning sickness' is actually somewhat misleading as nausea and vomiting can strike at any time during the day. Medical experts are not completely clear as to the cause, but most agree that the rapid increase of hormones in early pregnancy combined with an enhanced sensitivity to odors is probably to blame. Pregnant women are more likely to experience feeling sick if they have any of the following:

  • A predisposition to motion sickness or migraine headaches.
  • They are carrying a girl (A recent study showed higher rates of severe morning sickness in women who were expecting girls).
  • They are pregnant with twins or higher multiples (The increased levels of hormones might be the cause.).
  • A genetic predisposition to morning sickness (a sister or mother who suffered from it).
  • They have a history of suffering from nausea while taking birth control pills.

While morning sickness can be extremely unpleasant, in the vast majority of cases it causes no harm to a developing baby. Many women who do not gain any weight during their first trimester because of nausea and vomiting go on to deliver healthy babies without incident. Occasionally though, severe cases of morning sickness require women to be placed on IV fluids to prevent dehydration, and there are safe medications that can be prescribed to combat the symptoms.

For those with mild cases of morning sickness, there are many ways to get some relief including:

  • Eat small, frequent meals. An empty stomach contributes to the feelings of queasiness.
  • Avoid foods and smells that trigger the nausea.
  • Avoid spicy, fried, and acidy foods.
  • Stick to bland foods like rice, crackers, and bananas or crunchy, uncooked fruits and vegetables like apples, celery, and carrots.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Take prenatal vitamins with food, never on an empty stomach.
  • Drink ginger tea or eat some grated fresh ginger (Many women swear by this natural remedy.).
  • Get plenty of rest.