Theories abound about morning sickness, but no one knows the exact cause of this less than pleasant pregnancy experience. Very few women escape it all together, most experience at least some mild nausea, and another unfortunate few have their head in a toilet for the better part of their first trimester, if not longer. Regardless of its severity, there are ways to make morning sickness a little more manageable.
Most people agree that morning sickness is tied into rapidly increasing hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone, which tend to peak and then level off after the first 12-14 weeks, when most women find a bit of relief. Blood sugar fluctuations (eating too much or too little can trigger nausea), increased sensitivity to odor, slowed digestion, and dehydration can all aggravate the condition further. Here are a few tried and true tips to help get through this challenging time:
• Upon awakening, drink as much lemon water as possible. A normal stomach can tolerate about a liter and a half. If you are having a difficult time keeping water down, sip it slowly and start with small amounts. This helps in two ways: first, since the kidneys are elimination organs, it is thought that they play a role in clearing excess hormones from the system, thereby decreasing the hormonal load during pregnancy. This morning “flush” helps wash out the back “sludge” that can accumulate in the kidneys. Second, lemon itself has strong therapeutic qualities. The smell of lemon has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and nausea, and many women have found it soothing and helpful during pregnancy.
• Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. This helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and keep hunger-induced nausea at bay.
• Food combining is paramount! The digestive system slows significantly during pregnancy and food sits in the stomach for much longer than usual. Therefore, more than any other time, it is crucial to properly food combine while pregnant. Otherwise, the resulting fermenting mess in your stomach is sure to cause a great deal of upset. Of particular importance is avoiding eating fats with sugars as this can wreak havoc on sugar levels as well, further aggravating the situation.
• Avoid juices, as these tend to lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes. A little juice added to water for flavor shouldn’t cause any problems if this helps you to stay hydrated.
• If the mere act of chewing sets off your gag reflex, fruit smoothies are a wonderful solution. If you can, consume as many green smoothies as possible. Green smoothies are wonderful for balancing blood sugar and alkalinizing the body, thereby neutralizing stomach acids, which can aggravate nausea and vomiting. I know many women are completely turned off green veggies during pregnancy. I myself, formerly a salad queen, could not even look at lettuce or spinach without convulsing. I did, however, eventually find a few greens I could tolerate. For example, celery was easy for me and I could tolerate some parsley. Try to sneak a little in your smoothie, and see if you can’t build up from there. If the very sight of anything green turns you green, however, try drinking from an opaque cup with a lid. Believe me, if you can get some green smoothies in you, your body and your baby will thank you!
• Skip the (saltine) crackers. While these may afford some temporary relief, in the long run, they will perpetuate blood sugar imbalances. Try to avoid white flour products and other high-glycemic junk as much as possible, even though it may really be what you’re craving. If you have to, try some toasted sprout bread or at least whole grain crackers, which will have less impact on insulin levels.
• Snack on fruit or a small handful of seeds or nuts. Most women can tolerate, and often find relief with fruit. I found that, at times that I wanted something more substantial, a few almonds really did the trick.
• There is conflicting evidence on whether vitamin B6 can help to alleviate morning sickness, but it has long been prescribed as a remedy. At any rate, seeking out foods rich in this vitamin couldn’t hurt. Some excellent sources are: banana, sunflower seeds, spinach and other leafy greens, avocado and cantaloupe.
• Ginger tea has long been used as a calming tonic for upset stomach and nausea. Steep a little fresh ginger in some hot water and sip in between meals.
• Cinnamon has been demonstrated to have profound effects on normalizing blood sugar levels in diabetics. Try the same tea above, but with a stick of cinnamon instead of ginger.
I hope that some of these tips will help. Most importantly, try to relax, breathe, get lots of rest, and know that it will all be worth it in the end ?.