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Ask any woman who is or has been pregnant and she will probably agree that one of the most notable things about pregnancy is the nausea. Not every woman will experience it, but a large majority will have some form of nausea at some point during their pregnancy.
Those women will probably also tell you that the term "morning sickness" rarely, if ever applies, because nausea is almost never confined to the morning.
Medical experts and researchers do not know the exact cause of morning sickness, and since it presents differently for different women, and some women don't get it at all, they are unlikely to find a single cause.
Some contributing factors probably include hormonal changes as estrogen and progesterone have effects on the digestive system, which some women notice during their menstrual cycle. Your body's response to sugar, called blood sugar handling, is also affected throughout pregnancy, which can cause waves of nausea, food aversions or cravings. Shifts in your body pH and in your increased need of micronutrients, such B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and so on could play a role in some cases of morning sickness.
What is normal for morning sickness
Since it can present in so many ways, women often ask if what they are experiencing is considered normal.
Some of the presentations include constant low grade nausea that is not too disruptive to their regular day, but uncomfortable. For some women, this kind of nausea can be better with small amounts of food frequently, while for others, eating can make it worse. Both of these situations are normal presentations of morning sickness.
Some women have nausea to the point of vomiting, sometime infrequently, or in some cases multiple times per day. Depending on the level of vomiting, this can also be normal. Sometimes if you eat before the nausea gets to a certain level, you avoid vomiting, but for some, there is no control and vomiting is inevitable.
If you are experiencing severe vomiting multiple times per day where you can't keep any food or liquid down, you should contact your care provider as soon as possible. You could be experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum and in extreme cases, you may need to supplement with IV fluids to maintain adequate hydration levels for your pregnancy.
If you are dealing with nausea only or minor to moderate amounts of vomiting, you can try some of the following tips to keep it manageable.
Morning sickness management tips
Herbs & Supplements for nausea
One of the first things most people try for morning sickness is ginger tea. As a carminative - meaning it helps digestion and intestinal function, ginger is used in many cultures to maintain healthy digestion and treat digestive ailments. There are numerous ways to incorporate ginger - as a tea, grated into your cooking, and as a candy. The strongest way to use ginger for morning sickness is to make a tea out of fresh root. To make fresh ginger root tea, simply grate 2 tablespoons of washed, fresh ginger root and place into a pot with 2 cups of water. Simmer on low heat with the lid on for 15 minutes. Drink throughout the day, adding lemon if you desire.
If ginger doesn't help for you, sometimes sour is the flavor needed to curb nausea, in this case try fresh squeezed lemon water, but resist the temptation to add sugar and make lemonade, we want full sour for this. Take 1 lemon and squeeze it into 12-16 ounces of cool water and drink. You can drink it at once if that feels good or sip it over the day, whatever keeps your nausea under control.
Another beverage to try is coconut water. Coconut water is full of potassium and other electrolytes that can help calm nausea, especially if you have been vomiting and need to replace electrolytes that may have been lost.
Foods to try to help with nausea include bone broth soup, miso soup and potato soup. These can be easy and satisfying to sip for some women during pregnancy. You can add ginger to the broth if that helps for you, or leave it bland if it works better that way. All of these soups will provide minerals and some electrolytes. Additionally, properly prepared miso soup can provide probiotics, but if it's heated too high, they may no longer be available in sufficient quantities.
Supplements that may help temper nausea, if you can swallow them, include vitamin B6, or even better, a whole food based vitamin B complex. Sometimes, the whole food based supplements can be difficult to swallow with nausea because it requires more pills, but the trade off is that often whole food based supplements are easier to digest and may not aggravate your nausea as much as synthetic pills.
Acupressure for Morning Sickness and Nausea
Acupressure can be used to help moderate the sensation of nausea and is a simple technique you can do yourself anytime.
One of the most well known points is P6 on the inner wrist. You can buy wrist bands that apply pressure to this point, but you can also apply pressure without the bands by simply applying firm, even pressure with the thumb of your opposite hand.
Locate P6 two fingerbreadths from your wrist crease on the inside of your wrist between the two prominent tendons.
You may also find some relief by using an acupressure point on your leg, called St36. This point is commonly used by acupuncturist for nausea, but it also works with acupressure.
Locate St36 one handbreadth below the outer edge of your knee cap in the muscle belly of your shin. It will often feel a little sore when you find the right location.
A third point that can sometimes help with nausea is Yintang, located on the forehead between the eyebrows.
To use acupressure, apply firm, even pressure or you can try pulsating the pressure and see which effect works better for you. Some women find one of the points particularly helpful, while others use a combination with more success. Use each point for 30-60 seconds, several times throughout the day or as needed when you feel the nausea.
Nausea usually ends
For the majority of pregnancies, nausea does come to an end in the second trimester and it does get better. If possible, slow down your days, get plenty of sleep and fluids, taking care of yourself will only help.
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