5 Tips for Tackling Morning Sickness

What is morning sickness?

Morning sickness is a common symptom experienced by women during early pregnancy that involves nausea, either with or without vomiting. In fact, nausea occurs in up to 91% of women during the first 6-8 weeks of pregnancy. In most cases, morning sickness only lasts until the end of the first trimester, but around 1 in 10 women can experience severe nausea and vomiting throughout pregnancy - this is known as hyperemesis gravidarum. If these symptoms are severe, call your doctor as hyperemesis gravidarum can adversely affect your pregnancy and health in the case of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, and may require hospitalisation to replace lost nutrients. Although the exact cause of morning sickness is unknown, it is suggested that the hormonal changes that take place during the early stages of pregnancy have a role to play, including increased levels of oestrogen and human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG).

Can I Eat Intuitively if I’m experiencing morning sickness?

Of course! However, when you're feeling nauseous it's likely that your normal hunger cues will be a bit out of whack. Foods that you may normally love eating can become really unappealing, and bland, boring food might be the only thing that you can stomach. In fact, eating intuitively during this period may look a bit more like planning meals and snacks throughout the day rather than relying purely on hunger cues as a way of honouring your health and body - and that’s totally okay. When it comes to deciding what foods to eat, it's important to remember that you are allowed to honour what your body is telling you (even if that means having a slice of toast with peanut butter for dinner because that's all you can stomach). Be curious about the foods that your body leads you to eat rather than being afraid of your cravings and aversions.

But what about good nutrition during this critical time?

This period will not last forever, and it's totally okay to eat 'beige' food for a few weeks if it means that you are able to consume sufficient calories to provide you with the energy that you need to get through each day. Although good nutrition is important in pregnancy, it is unlikely that you will become deficient in important vitamins and minerals over a short period of time. Your body has maternal stores that is is able to utilise and becomes far more efficient at absorbing nutrients from food during pregnancy. In addition to this, you will probably be taking a pregnancy multivitamin to ensure that you’ll get the micronutrients that you need to support a growing baby.

5 Tips for Tackling Morning Sickness

  1. Eat something small when you wake up in the morning. Dry biscuits, an orange, some toast with nut butter, or a small pot of yoghurt are a few ideas of things to try. Now I know that this can be really difficult, particularly if you wake up feeling sick, but having something small to eat when you wake up can usually help dampen nausea and allow you to get started with your day.

  2. Drink enough fluids to stay hydrated. Sip on water and other liquids throughout the day rather than drinking a large quantity in one go. In the warmer months, ice cold drinks can be really useful – think ice water, lemonade, slushies, or water with frozen fruit added.

  3. Consume ginger. This could be in things like ginger ale, ginger tea, crystallised ginger, or a ginger supplement. There is some evidence to show that ginger can significantly decrease nausea, and is safe to consume during pregnancy, so give it a try and see if it helps you at all.

  4. Eat smaller meals and snacks throughout your day. Your hunger signals may be a bit out of whack when you’re experiencing morning sickness, so you may not be able to recognise normal hunger cues. Getting overly hungry can end up leaving you feel nauseous or end up with you vomiting. Consuming smaller, more frequent meals and snacks can help prevent this from happening.

  5. Get enough rest. Where possible allow yourself to rest and take time out during the early days of pregnancy when you’re feeling sick and worn out. This might be difficult if you work full-time, but if possible take time over the weekends to recuperate and get in a couple of afternoon naps.

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