Despite the fact that nausea and vomiting during pregnancy can strike at any time throughout the day or night, “morning sickness” is the popular term for this extremely common pregnancy symptom that between 80 and 90 percent of expectant mamas experience. Whether you’re feeling constantly nauseous and miserable, or you’re dealing with recurring bouts of vomiting throughout the day, morning sickness can take a significant toll on your physical and mental health during pregnancy.
The good news is that there are several ways to try to reduce your symptoms – read on to learn more about when and why morning sickness occurs, and how you can work to manage your nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
When does morning sickness start?
For most women, morning sickness typically begins around four weeks’ gestation, and will ease as they enter their second trimester. Some women find that their nausea and vomiting sticks around for their entire pregnancy, but fortunately this is rare. Most expectant mamas start feeling better and regain their normal appetite around 12 to 14 weeks.
What causes morning sickness?
Doctors don’t know for certain what causes morning sickness, but they suspect that it’s likely due to a combination of factors, including rising hormone levels and changes in the way food moves through your body. Expectant moms with higher levels of pregnancy hormones (such as if you’re carrying twins) also report a higher incidence of nausea.
What are some natural remedies for managing morning sickness symptoms?
While there are no hard and fast rules about what you should or shouldn’t eat to avoid nausea, one common piece of advice is to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day, rather than three large meals. But generally, you should try to follow your body’s own cues, whether that means to eat more carbs, protein, or any other food group. Whatever you can stomach best is the right choice!
The one food that has actually been proven to reduce symptoms of morning sickness in some women is ginger. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) recommends taking 250mg of ginger up to four times a day.
Taking a supplement of vitamin B6 can also be an effective remedy for reducing nausea, but it’s unlikely to help with vomiting. The SOGC recommends taking 25mg, three times daily.
Another popular option for managing morning sickness is to wear sea bands, the acupressure wristbands designed to relieve seasickness.
What medications can help manage morning sickness symptoms?
For expectant moms who are really struggling with vomiting and keeping their food down, often the only relief comes from medication. Diclectin (a combination of an antihistamine and vitamin B6) is the most commonly prescribed drug for morning sickness – there is approximately one Diclectin prescription written for every two births in Canada!
When should you talk to your doctor or midwife about your morning sickness symptoms?
Just because morning sickness is common, that doesn’t mean that you have to tough it out if you’re feeling crummy. Even if you’re managing to get through your day, be sure to talk to your care provider so that they can help you stay on top of your symptoms in case they get any worse.
The SOGC also recommends that any woman with a high risk of nausea and vomiting should consider starting Diclectin early in pregnancy before she starts feeling really sick, to help reduce the severity and duration of her symptoms.
Less than two percent of women will suffer from morning sickness so severe that they experience significant weight loss and dehydration – a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, which Kate Middleton suffered from during her pregnancies.