Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (especially in the first 3 months) is referred to as morning sickness - despite the name it can occur at any time of the day. In most cases the symptoms disappear once you're more than half way through your pregnancy.
What causes it?
It is unclear what causes morning sickness but most experts think it's due to changing levels of hormones in the body. Other factors that can make the nausea worse include a pregnant woman’s enhanced sense of smell and gastric reflux.
Does it harm the baby?
Morning sickness that is not severe does not hurt the baby in any way, in fact it may be a sign that all is well with mum and baby as it indicates that the placenta is making all the right hormones. Interestingly you have a higher chance of having a girl if the nausea is more intense!
Vitamin B6 shown to ease symptoms
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) has been shown to ease symptoms of morning sickness. Many doctors and midwives recommend trying it first before trying other medicine. Vitamin B6 is found in a wide variety of foods such as bananas, nuts, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, lean meats, cereals, liver and eggs. Prenatal vitamins also contain B6.
Pregnant women need only 1.9 mg of this vitamin a day to help make antibodies, red blood cells, and neurotransmitters and to meet the needs of their developing baby. However up to 100mg of B6 or less per day has been shown to ease symptoms of morning sickness. You should check with your doctor before taking any extra vitamins.
Ginger can be as effective as Vitamin B6
Ginger is a well known herbal medicine for treating all kinds of digestion problems as well as nausea. It's actually one of the most widely used treatments for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Ginger can be taken as a capsule or syrup but you could also try foods that contain ginger or eat the fresh root, alternatively try drinking ginger tea or ginger ale - although the latter might not contain enough of the spice to be effective. Ensure that whatever you try contains real ginger rather than just the flavouring.
Research has shown that 250 mg of ginger four times a day resulted in prevention of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
Ginger products are unlicensed in the UK, so buy them from a reputable source and ensure you consult your pharmacist before using ginger supplements.
What else could you try?
Here are a few other helpful remedies which may be worth a go:
- Try to eat before you get hungry and before nausea occurs
- Eat frequent small meals throughout the day rather than three large meals
- Don’t let yourself get too hungry or too full
- Eat a few crackers or dry toast before you get up in the morning
- Avoid eating foods that are high in fat and salt
- Keep your morning activities slow and calm
- Avoid poorly ventilated spaces that trap food or other odours
- Get extra sleep and try to lessen stress as much as possible
- Acupressure on the wrist - some researchers have suggested that putting pressure on certain parts of the body may cause the brain to release certain chemicals that help reduce nausea and vomiting
When nausea and vomiting are severe, a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum may be diagnosed. This can be very serious and needs specialist treatment, sometimes in hospital. Ensure you consult your doctor if you suffer from severe vomiting as this can lead to dehydration and malnutrition.