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Managing Morning Sickness

Pregnant woman

Morning sickness. One of the most common and earliest pregnancy symptoms, it’s the bane of nearly every pregnant woman. Despite the name, morning sickness can occur any time, day or night. Research shows that as many as 80% of pregnancies are accompanies by some degree of nausea caused by changing hormones. In most women, morning starts around the sixth week of pregnancy and lasts until about the twelfth week, though in some women it can start earlier and can last much longer. In rare cases, morning sickness is serious enough to cause severe dehydration and malnutrition and needs medical attention. In most cases, however, there are things a pregnant woman can do to manage her symptoms.

As miserable as it can be, morning sickness can actually be taken as a positive sign that everything is progressing as it should, and that your body is producing the hormones needed to support the growing embryo. The reassurance doesn’t make the experience any less miserable, however.

The biggest challenge with morning sickness is staying hydrated. Being dehydrated can exacerbate nausea, but nausea, and especially vomiting, can exacerbate dehydration, leading to a miserable spiral. Combat this by avoiding caffeine and alcohol (both diuretics!) and sipping water, juice or tea throughout the day. Ginger tea is great for this, as ginger is a common remedy for nausea and often recommended to cancer patients going through chemotherapy. Some other things you can do to get through these weeks include:

  • Along the same lines as ginger tea, you can also try ginger ale with real ginger, ginger candy, or actual candied ginger. Make your own candied ginger by slicing a bit of ginger into thin slices. Simmer the slices until tender. Drain some of the water and add sugar. Simmer again, stirring frequently, until the liquid evaporates. Put it in a zip lock bag and throw it in your purse to have available any time you need it.
  • Common wisdom is to eat dry crackers first thing in the morning to ease nausea. For some women this works fine, for others, it only makes the nausea worse.
  • Try watermelon and other fresh fruits. They contain a lot of water, which can help you stay hydrated, and they’re light on your stomach, so they shouldn’t aggravate nausea.
  • Ditch the three meals a day routine and eat several snacks throughout the day.
  • In the same vein, avoid foods heavy, spicy or greasy foods.
  • If you’re feeling like you could start vomiting, you may want to avoid milk. Not because it will make it worse, but because milk sours in your stomach could be quite unpleasant coming back up.
  • Try to stay cool. This can be difficult if you’re pregnant in the summertime, but getting too hot can make things worse.
  • Try lemons, lemonade or sour candy to settle your stomach.
  • Try potato chips or another salty snack. Sometimes salty flavors can help settle the stomach.
  • As much as possible, avoid strong odors.
  • Take your multivitamin every day. You may even consider adding extra B vitamins, especially B6 and B12, as they can help reduce nausea.

In the end, there are a lot of remedies for typical morning sickness and what works for one person may not work for the next. For that matter, what works for you in this pregnancy isn’t necessarily going to help you with the next pregnancy. Some of the dos may make it worse, while some of the don’ts may actually help you. If greasy food is the only thing you can keep down, bring on the grease. If you find the mere thought of ginger has you running for the bathroom, by all means, avoid ginger. When morning sickness is at its worst, what you put into your body is far less important than what stays down.

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