The moment my pregnancy stick flashed the positive symbol, my family and I burst into spontaneous celebration. There were big smiles, massive cheers and a lovely, giddy feeling that made like I was floating on a soft, well-cushioned cloud. I felt glorious. For about two minutes before I came crashing back to earth with a heavy, sickly feeling with which I was to become intimately acquainted. That ghastly pregnancy symptom we all love to hate, most commonly known as ‘morning sickness’ has made an appearance.
Now, I’ve been nauseous before. But this was a whole other game. There was a constant, bitter taste in my mouth, accompanied by a pressure in my chest that felt like a raw potato deeply wedged in my food pipe.
I was disgusted all the time. And every so often, I threw up. For a few minutes after, my chest felt lighter. But then the sick feeling returned like a faithful, puppy dog. The celebrations continued around me. Family, parents, friends all rejoice in the impending good news while all I wanted to do was to bury my head inside a toilet bowl.
Sometimes, smells triggered a massive vomit attack. Other times, if I stayed hungry too long, it worsened. Finally, by the end of the third month, the dark clouds parted, my morning sickness dissipated, and I felt normal again. Well, except for the tiny human being that was still growing in my stomach.
The facts of pregnancy nausea
Morning sickness is when you experience nausea or vomiting in pregnancy. Don’t be fooled by the name. The symptoms can strike at any time and usually occur in the first trimester. It’s the luck of the draw. Some have sailed through pregnancies without a shadow of morning sickness. Some women complain of mild symptoms that can be annoying but don’t impact their lives much. For them, the symptoms last the standard three months before it disappears at the start of the second trimester. Then some women experience severe morning sickness all nine months. A small number of whom might be unlucky enough suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition that can cause dehydration or weight loss due to severe nausea. The Duchess of Cambridge, formerly known as Kate Middleton, is the most famous example, experiencing severe vomiting during pregnancy and even had to be hospitalised.
Causes for morning sickness
There isn’t any conclusive reason for morning sickness, although some doctors and medical professionals do feel several factors can contribute towards it.
A rise in hormone levels
Oestrogen, progesterone and HCG hormones levels increase at an alarming but expected rate in your first trimester and might induce pregnancy-related nausea in some people.
It is suspected that fluctuating blood sugar levels can also trigger morning sickness. Which is why it’s best to eat small meals or healthy snacks often, and not to go without food for an extended period.
A heightened sense of smell
Pregnancy makes your skin glow, your hair shine and your olfactory senses sharpen. An increase in your smelling capacity might trigger morning sickness.
What to expect, when you’re expecting nausea.
- You get an uneasy, uncomfortable sensation that lingers on for a long time
- You develop an aversion to particular foods and smells, that didn’t bother you before
- Bouts of vomiting that can happen occasionally or regularly
- Dehydration can set in from excessive vomiting
- You might also suffer from acidity caused by an upheaval of stomach acids
- In extreme cases, you may even have to be hospitalised. Especially if suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum.
- While morning sickness doesn’t directly affect your foetus, if you are unable to eat the proper nutrition, it could affect your baby’s weight gain in the womb. This is true, especially if nausea/morning sickness continues beyond the first trimester. A nutritionist can help you design a custom meal plan that suits you to help you and your baby both put on the right amount of weight.
Home remedies for morning sickness
Sadly, there is no one-size-fits-all morning sickness treatment. But there are quite a few, simple DIY therapies that can offer temporary relief. Not all of them will work. You’ll have to keep trying till you find one that suits you.
What you can eat:
The right food can help counter the symptoms of morning sickness. Here are some options for you to try. Just remember, all the following items might not work for you. Even if one or two do, that is enough to bring you some relief.
Keep chilled food within your reach every time nausea rears its ugly head. Watermelon slices, cucumber slices, sorbet and even ice chips can help numb nausea to quite an extent. Just be wary of catching a sore throat. You don’t want to add to the discomfort.
Anything with ginger
Ginger has a calming effect on morning sickness, and it is effective in any form. You can try candied ginger, ginger biscuits, ginger tea, ginger ale or even pickled ginger. Sample any ginger-filled goodie and see if it works.
Carbs to the rescue
Fruits and veggies high in carb content can also help combat morning sickness. Bananas, rice and potatoes have worked their magic on quite a few expecting mothers, especially if cooked with bland flavour without spices. Just keep an eye on your intake, as those carbs could pile on unnecessary weight.
Salty food like chips and popcorn may not make it on your plate when you’re on a diet. However, many women have reported that namkeen snacks work hard to suppress rising nausea. Whether it’s a pregnancy craving or an actual morning sickness remedy, we’ll never know.
This is not considered an ideal remedy for everyone, especially those prone to acidity (a common complaint during most pregnancies). But on rare occasions, a meal high on heat can help lower morning sickness symptoms. I confess to biting off a few chillies during my first pregnancy, and it worked for me. But if you feel uneasy, don’t force it.
It’s a mystery as to why crispy, dry snacks like crackers and khakras help suppress nausea. But thank god they do. Just nibble on a piece of dry toast, and you’ll instantly feel better.
Eat smaller portions
Most doctors will advise you to eat every 2-3 hours to keep your blood sugar level constant. So take a handful of the recommended foods listed above and consume a bit through the day.
Keep yourself hydrated
If you find yourself throwing up quite often, your body might lose a lot of water. This can trigger more nausea, and you’ll find yourself stuck in a vicious cycle. Drinking water throughout the day will help replenish lost fluids, but also keep the nausea levels to a minimum. Don’t gulp the water, or else you might end up vomiting. Instead, take small sips at regular intervals through the day.
What you can do:
Yoga has an answer for everything. Yep, morning sickness too. There are a few simple, light poses that can offer relief from unrelenting nausea. Check out some of them here.
Just because your body starts to resemble a couch, doesn’t mean you become one. Going on light walks, running errands or even some easy housework can open up your body, increase blood circulation and alleviate those nasty, nausea symptoms.
When you’re sleeping, you tend to forget all about morning sickness. However, a good night’s rest or a well-rested nap can also help with some relief when you’re awake. So do try to sneak in some zzz’s whenever you can.
Simple, deep breathing exercises can calm your anxious mind and even relax a troubling stomach. Inhale for 5 counts, hold for another 5 counts and then exhale slowly. It’s so calming. It’s a good technique even if you don’t have nausea.
There’s an interesting theory about morning sickness. That it is an evolutionary tactic to prevent an expecting mother from consuming contaminated food. The baby in the womb is more likely to get affected by toxic food than the mother, which is why nausea helps to prevent pregnant women from ingesting anything too smelly. If this is true, then morning sickness is a small price to pay for the health of your baby. Till it passes, and it will, you just have to take deep breaths and focus on the coming, happy future.