Morning sickness is the feeling of nausea or vomiting experienced during pregnancy and is reported to affect an estimated 80 per cent of women at some stage, though it is typically common during the early stages and often peaks around the sixth week.
‘Morning sickness’ is often unpredictable and it may come as a surprise to learn that it can occur at any time of the day, not just in the hours after we first wake. In fact less than 2 per cent of women experience nausea in the morning only with 80 per cent of women reporting a nausea that lasts for the entire day.
Follow these five top tips for natural relief of morning sickness.
A healthy diet based on fresh, organic wholefoods, incorporating protein, fruit, vegetables, good fats and high fibre foods is an essential part of everyday health and wellbeing. However, pregnancy causes significant changes to the body and therefore it really isn’t possible to get all of your daily nutritional requirements from diet alone. Morning sickness can worsen the situation as you don’t always feel like eating and even when you do many vitamins and minerals are lost due to vomiting.
Morning sickness is the body's reaction to the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is produced at higher levels during the first trimester than at any other time during pregnancy. A high protein diet is recommended as it takes longer to digest and will make you feel fuller for longer. Protein can be found in a wide variety of food including chicken, eggs, white fish, sheep and goat feta, nuts, legumes, beans, seeds and quinoa. It is highly recommended that you avoid saturated fatty acids such as fried and processed food as these are thought to worsen symptoms and increase sickness.
In addition, bitter vegetables such as endive, globe artichoke and spinach can be mixed with lemon juice and hot water to make natural remedies. The bitter properties assist the liver to clear the hormones that cause morning sickness and should work to ease symptoms; bitter teas such as chamomile, dandelion root and peppermint are also great. Of course, it’s also very important to keep hydrated and drink fluids frequently, at least two litres of water is recommended to avoid dehydration.
The herb is often a must have for mothers experiencing morning sickness and nausea during pregnancy and has earned the status because it actually works! Ginger root has been used for centuries and has many medicinal benefits including treating digestive problems, heartburn and nausea.
I’m a big fan of organic ginger tea as it soothes symptoms of nausea, you can add honey or lemon for taste (or even better make your own blend with fresh grated ginger and boiling water). Ginger is naturally high in vitamin C and magnesium and extremely versatile so can easily be added to a wide range of food such as juices, soups and stir-fry’s if herbal tea is not your thing.
Pregnancy can be exhausting and increased fatigue can make the symptoms of morning sickness even worse. It is very important that you listen to your body during this time and try to rest whenever you feel tired but with our ever demanding lifestyles this isn’t always possible. If this is the case, try going to bed a couple of hours earlier than usual or take a short nap during the day.
The quality of sleep should also be considered, it is fairly common for pregnant women to struggle with ensuring a consistent sleep pattern during this time. Relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation will help to quieten the mind and prepare your body for sleep. In addition, sugary food and drink should be avoided as caffeine will only worsen the symptoms.
When you’re experiencing morning sickness the last thing you usually want to think about is food. However, it’s vital that you nourish your body and keep your strength up with a regular intake of nutrient dense food.
An empty stomach usually makes nausea worse therefore the best strategy would be to ensure that you eat small snacks little and often. I would recommend substituting the traditional three meals per day in favour of five smaller meals as large meals can often cause discomfort and even effect energy levels. The smaller meals will also help to regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels, reduce the feeling of nausea and stop you from reaching for sugary snacks.
Vitamins and Minerals
The hormonal imbalance that takes place throughout pregnancy can often deplete nutrient stores. Therefore, it’s is very important to maintain sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, folate, iron and zinc. Vitamin B6 is my favourite and has powerful properties for pregnancy health. This important nutrient can be found in bananas, eggplant, salmon, prunes, sunflower seeds, walnuts, chicken and sweet potatoes can help relieve symptoms of nausea.
In addition to this, folate, iron and zinc are also beneficial for pregnancy health and will ensure optimum levels of nutrition and reduce deficiencies which may contribute to morning sickness. Folate is a B group vitamin and a pregnancy superhero, the vitamin is essential for the healthy development of the foetus in early pregnancy and can be found in a wide range of food including asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, oranges and peas. Iron is required to make red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body and during pregnancy you need more iron because the volume of blood naturally increases, a good source of iron can be found in red meat, spinach, and nuts. Zinc is a mineral that helps support your immune system and can be found in chicken, pumpkin seeds, tofu and turkey.
Karina Francois is a leading Australian naturopath at Infinite Health Practice, health educator, author and public speaker.