Finding out you’re pregnant is such an exciting time! Whether it’s your first or fifth time, that feeling of growing another life and preparing for birth is just magic. What isn’t so magical, however, is morning sickness.
Feeling nauseous early in your pregnancy isn’t pleasant, but it’s also not unusual. In fact, up to 80% of pregnant women have some form of nausea and over half of you will also experience vomiting.
Usually, once you’re through that first trimester (first 12 weeks), morning sickness symptoms will begin to fade. However, some women will still feel unwell up to 20 weeks and even later into their pregnancy. Thankyou, hormones!
Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to help relieve your morning sickness and many of them can be found at home. I often see women who are looking for help, but aren’t sure where to start.
To get you started, here are my top five tips to beat morning sickness:
1. Don’t get hungry
Eating regularly can make a really big difference to how you’re feeling. This keeps your blood sugar levels constant and prevents the dips that can result in waves of nausea. Often, by the time you’re feeling sick, the thought of food can be too hard to take. Even when it’s what you need!
The key is: eat little and eat often.
Focus on good sources of protein and complex carbohydrates, for example:
- Eggs (boiled eggs are a very convenient snack to have on hand)
- Natural yoghurt
- Avocado on rice crackers
- A handful of nuts
- A small salad with fish/meat/chicken/tempeh
- Legumes (such as in a lentil soup)
- Nut butter on toast
- Baked beans
- A small smoothie
- Vegetable sticks
- Soaked muesli
… there are plenty of options!
For those of you who feel worse first thing in the morning, try beginning the day with a small snack before getting up and moving around.
2. Sip fluids
Keeping your fluids up is important for health generally, but even more so when you’ve been vomiting. However, when you’re feeling nauseous, the thought of drinking a full glass of anything can sometimes make it worse. That’s why I recommend taking small regular sips. This helps to ensure that you’re adequately hydrated, without feeling over-full.
Warm water and herbal teas are also great for this reason, as they tend to have a soothing effect on your digestive tract and can be drunk slowly, over a period of 15 – 30 mins. Some of my favourites for morning sickness include: ginger, chamomile, rosehip, peppermint, rooibos, lemongrass and lime. Ideally, aim to steer clear of caffeinated teas and beverages.
3. B vitamins
B vitamins are found in many foods, but a supplemental boost can really help with morning sickness symptoms. While all the B vitamins play an important role in keeping you healthy, B6 is recommended specifically for nausea in pregnancy.
It goes without saying that any supplementation should be taken alongside a good diet, so aiming to increase your dietary B6 is also helpful. It is found in many foods, particularly chicken, turkey, beef, salmon, trout, tuna, spinach, broccoli, peas, asparagus, sunflower seeds, cashews, chickpeas and lentils.
4. Herbal medicine*
Like other medicines, not all herbal remedies are safe to take in pregnancy. However, there are some that really do work wonders for morning sickness.
Ginger is perhaps the best known ‘anti-nausea’ herb and it’s earned that reputation for a reason – it works! It’s also wonderfully versatile: you can have it as ginger tea; fresh ginger in soups, stir fries and juices; dried ginger in home-baked treats; or even tablets and capsules. Unfortunately for some women, it actually makes their morning sickness worse (you’ll know it if that’s you!) and has to be avoided.
You can make a delicious, aromatic, stomach-settling tea by combining:
- Freshly crushed ginger
- A generous squeeze of lemon or lime
- Shredded mint leaves
Steep these in a hot water for 5-10 minutes and then drink.
* It’s always important to talk with a practitioner who has been trained in herbal medicine, before starting any remedy while pregnant.
5. Prevention is better than cure
Ideally, getting your health in order before you fall pregnant is best. Start out how you plan to finish – in excellent health. Preconception preparation can include:
- A diet that’s healthy, balanced and enjoyable
- Ensuring your digestion is strong
- Getting your liver in shape
- Hormone balancing
- Building up energy levels
All of this will help you feel strong and well during your pregnancy.
These are my top five tips, but it’s really just a start. There are many more natural health options than can help you reduce morning sickness, feel great and enjoy your pregnancy.