Nausea during Pregnancy: Causes and Treatments
What is that nauseous, queasy feeling in your stomach that often starts when the sun rises? Is it the first symptom of pregnancy? Yes, that uncomfortable and icky feeling in your stomach is called nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. You can also often hear the term morning sickness although it can hit at any time of the day or night.
It’s estimated that up to 70% of all pregnant women experience these symptoms, having at least some nausea or vomiting during the first trimester. While three-quarters of pregnant women experience morning sickness, the intensity of the symptoms can vary from woman to woman. And due to the fact that newly pregnant women are more sensitive to smell, morning sickness causes them to have strong aversions to certain foods and smells.
Although it can be uncomfortable and tiring, the good news is that morning sickness is not dangerous for you or your baby, on the contrary, it’s often regarded as a sign of a healthy pregnancy
Causes of Nausea during Pregnancy
The cause of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is not entirely understood. However, it appears that it’s a combination of the many physical changes that take place in your body. It does seem to be linked to:
- Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This pregnancy hormone is the hormone that the body produces when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. Nausea is more intense around the same time that the levels of hCG are higher. For this reason, it’s assumed that there’s a connection.
- Sensitivity to smell and odors. Pregnant women experience a heightened sense of smell. They can become sensitive to food, drink, or toiletries and anything can trigger the gag reflex.
- Estrogen. The rapid increase in estrogen levels during the first trimester may cause some of the nausea associated with pregnancy.
- Progesterone. The levels of progesterone rise during pregnancy. The high levels of this hormone relax the uterus muscles in order to prevent early childbirth. However, this can also result in relaxation of the stomach and intestines, leading to excess stomach acids and acid reflux.
Pregnancy Nausea Relief
Although there’s no skipping the nausea and vomiting, there are some ways to minimize the symptoms:
- Avoid eating foods that trigger the nausea. Try eating only the things that appeal to you, even if they haven’t been part of your pre-pregnancy diet.
- Keep light snacks by your bed and eat a couple before getting up. Give 20 to 30 minutes for digestion and rise slowly once you’re ready. It’s also a good idea to snack when you wake up in the middle of the night just so your stomach stays full all night long.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. Keep your belly filled all the time and try eating six mini meals instead of three large ones. Smaller meals are easier to process and less likely to trigger nausea.
- Drink lots of fluids. In order to avoid getting dry and dehydrated, it’s vital to get enough liquids. This can be water, soup, coconut water, herbal tea, or anything that doesn't put too much strain on your digestive tract. Try taking fluids between meals and drink your vitamins and nutrient with them. If fluids make you nauseous, eat fruits and veggies that contain high levels of water, such as melons, citrus fruits, and cucumbers.
- Stay away from fatty foods since they take longer to digest. Avoid spicy, acidic and fried foods that can irritate your digestive tract.
- Include ginger in your diet. This beneficial plant can be consumed fresh, powdered, dried as a spice, in oil form, or as juice. Try ginger snaps, ginger ale, ginger tea, ginger biscuits, or ginger cookies. Sometimes even the smell of ginger can ease the symptoms.
- Keep your home well ventilated for easier breathing. If this is not possible, then go outside to get some fresh air.
- Get plenty of rest. Every time you’re feeling fatigued, try lying down since nausea can get worse if you’re tired.
- If your nausea becomes severe, talk to your doctor about possible medication. Start taking FDA-approved medication to treat nausea and vomiting that’s safe and effective. Don’t take anything unless it’s prescribed by your doctor.