Guest Blog Post - Dr Ryan Harvey from the House Call Doctor Service
Natural ways to help ease morning sickness
Finding out you’re pregnant is an exciting time with many emotions. Unfortunately for most it also comes with lots of nausea. Morning sickness, as it is so inappropriately termed, effects up to 80% of women during pregnancy.
“Nausea and vomiting during the first trimester are common symptoms,” says Dr Ryan Harvey of House Call Doctor. While the causes are not full understood it is believed that hormonal changes are the blame.
“During pregnancy there is a spike in hormones, specifically oestrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG),” says Dr Harvey. These hormones are thought to be the main culprit as well as changes in blood pressure, altered metabolism of carbohydrates and the physical and chemical changes of the body.
While pregnancy is a time of joy and anticipation many women end up curled up on the bathroom floor. If you’ve found yourself in that position, you may be less fussed on the cause of morning sickness and more interested in how to stop it. The good news is that morning sickness will usually stop on its own around 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy.
If you can’t wait that long here are some natural tips to tackling morning sickness from Dr Harvey:
1. Keep a diary
In between trips to the bathroom try to keep a diary of when you feel sick and possible triggers.
“Keeping a diary will help identify what works for you and what doesn’t,” says Dr Harvey. “Unfortunately there is no one-size fits all cure for morning sickness.”
2. Eat certain foods
Certain foods like ginger, avocado, proteins, dairy products and complex carbohydrates can help settle your stomach.
3. Always eat breakfast
An empty stomach is one of the biggest triggers for morning sickness. Take your morning slowly, keep crackers beside the bed and eat some before you get up. “Eating first thing in the morning will help absorb stomach acid and may help reduce nausea,” says Dr Harvey.
4. Eat small amounts more often
You may not be feeling hungry but snacking lightly throughout the day is a good way to help curb morning sickness. “Avoid feeling too full or too hungry,” says Dr Harvey.
5. Take your prenatal vitamins
As well as providing support for your growing baby prenatal vitamins contain vitamin B6. “Vitamin B6 can be powerful in the fight against morning sickness,” says Dr Harvey. “Ensure that you are taking vitamins as prescribed, usually with a meal, to reduce risk of added nausea.”
6. Exercise regularly
Exercise may be the last thing on your mind while battling through morning sickness but it might be worth it.
“Exercise release endorphins which can reduce digestive pains and improve your mood,” says Dr Harvey. “Exercising during pregnancy is completely safe, but you should consult your healthcare provider before beginning any new exercise.”
A brisk 20-30 minute walk may be enough to keep your nausea at bay.
7. Try aromatherapy
Aromatherapy may help you relax, calm your stomach and improve your mood. “Try ginger, lavender, chamomile, frankincense, peppermint and lemon to ease your nausea,” says Dr Harvey.
Try them out in a diffuser or add some drops to your bath to help with relaxation.
8. Get plenty of rest
Your body is busy creating a whole new body so make sure you get the rest you deserve. “Your body needs sleep during the first trimester of pregnancy and often it is the best form of relief from nausea.” says Dr Harvey.
9. Smell fresh scents
This sounds a bit odd but some mothers-to-be have found that sniffing fresh lemons helps. “Your sense of smell heightens during pregnancy,” says Dr Harvey. “Help overpower stenches triggering nausea by keeping lemon or peppermint oils nearby.”
10. Keep hydrated
Drinking enough water is crucial to your baby's development as well as curbing your morning sickness. “When pregnant you should be consuming twice your usually water intake,” says Dr Harvey. “This can be consumed in water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables.”
The most important thing to remember during this time is that morning sickness is temporary and, unfortunately, very normal. Finding someone you can talk to about your experiences may be beneficial.
“If you have concerns about your morning sickness address these with your healthcare provider who may be able to offer other suggestions for relief,” says Dr Harvey.
About the expert
Dr Ryan Harvey is the Deputy Clinical Director at House Call Doctor. Dr Harvey is highly experienced in paediatrics, and has administered medical care to children living in remote overseas communities. He now works with many families, administering acute care when unexpected medical situations arise overnight.