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Morning sickness

Morning sickness does not necessarily just take place in the morning; it can last throughout the day or occur in the evening time. However, as most women experience it in the morning, it is referred to as morning sickness.

Around 70 per cent of pregnant women will experience morning sickness. The severity of morning sickness can be divided into three groups, mild NVP, moderate NVP and severe NVP.

Odours such as cooking smells, especially fried foods, seafood, coffee, cigarette smoke, cleaning products and artificial odours such as perfume and air fresheners, can trigger feelings of nausea and vomiting. For most women, it will usually subside between weeks 12 and 16.

The ways you can relieve nausea include:

  • Drinking fizzy (carbonated) drinks that do not contain sugar, caffeine or artificial sweeteners, such as fizzy water
  • Drinking ginger tea or eating ginger biscuits. If you have heartburn (acid reflux), substitute ginger for mint or peppermint
  • Eating every two hours
  • Eating little and often as soon as you wake up in the morning
  • Eating plain food, such as crackers, dried biscuits or toast
  • Having acupuncture regularly. This is very effective in dealing with nausea. As the effects of each acupuncture session last three to four days, it is best to have treatment twice a week
  • Trying not to eat big meals or rich foods
  • Wearing travel sickness bands on your wrist. These push on to the acupuncture point acupuncturists use to treat nausea (Neiguan, PC6). Research has confirmed that applying pressure to this point reduces morning sickness

Around 0.5-2 per cent of women may experience hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), which is a serious condition that requires intravenous fluids, electrolyte replacements and sometimes nutritional support. Severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy can cause hyperthyroidism. Hyperemesis gravidarum usually resolves itself by week 18.

The treatment in Western medicine is to use antihistamine H1-receptor blockers such as promethazine, or in more severe cases prochlorperazine, cyclizine or metoclopramide, with the latter causing temporary neurological side effects.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is often given alongside medications to prevent neurological problems.

References

Norwitz, Errol. Obstetrics & Gynecology at a Glance. Oxford : Blackwell Sciences Ltd, 2001.
Women with nausea and vomiting in pregnancy demonstrate worse health and are adversely affected by odours. Swallow, B. s.l. : Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology , 2005, Vol. 25.
Auriculotherapy as a means of managing nausea and vomiting in pregnancy: A double-blind randomized controlled clinical trial. Negarandeh , Reza. s.l.: Complement Ther Clin Pract, 2020.
Morning sickness control in early pregnancy by Neiguan point acupressure. de Aloysio, D. 5, s.l. : Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1992, Vol. 80.
P6 Acupressure Reduces Morning Sickness. Dundee, J. 8, s.l. : Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1988, Vol. 81.
Increase in the Vagal Modulation by Acupuncture at Neiguan Point in the Healthy Subjects. Huang, Sheng-Teng. 1, s.l. : The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 2005, Vol. 33.
Effect of Neiguan point (P6) acupressure on ketonuria levels, nausea and vomiting in women with hyperemesis gravidarum. Shin, Hye Sook. 5, s.l. : JAN, 2007, Vol. 59.
Impey, L and Child, T. Obstetrics & Gynaecology. Chichester : John Wiley & Sons, 2012.

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My Pregnancy Guide - Ensuring A Healthy Pregnancy and Labour

My Pregnancy Guide: Ensuring A Healthy Pregnancy & Labour

In-depth information about what happens during pregnancy and how to ensure a healthy baby. Buy now...

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