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Morning Sickness

Nothing can dampen the excitement of early pregnancy like a bad bout of morning sickness. Unfortunately, about three quarters of pregnant women suffer from it. It usually starts around the 5th to 7th week of pregnancy and disappears between the 12th and the 15th and is often at its worst in the morning, but the nausea and vomiting can strike at any time of day and at any stage of pregnancy. Although the precise cause of morning sickness is still unknown, the two most common culprits of morning sickness are extreme changes in blood sugar levels, which tend to be lowest in the morning, and hormones, which run rampant during pregnancy.

One theory believes that the hormone progesterone is responsible for your queasiness. It is secreted in high concentrations during pregnancy (especially in the first few weeks) and relaxes many of the muscles in your body, including those of your digestive system. This can slow digestion and lead to a buildup of stomach acids. Another, and more popular theory, is that the surge in hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) in your system causes the nausea. hCG levels begin to decrease around the 12th week of pregnancy, just about the time most morning sickness eases.

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do about your hormone levels; however, you may be able to alleviate some symptoms of morning sickness if you focus on keeping your blood sugar levels steady. Even though you may not feel like even looking at food, youíre more likely to be nauseous if you allow your stomach to become empty, so try eating many small snacks throughout the day instead of three big ones.

Eat meals that include complex carbohydrates, protein, and a little fat. These will give you the fuel you need to maintain steady blood sugar levels and studies have shown that protein eases nausea.

Try the following the help settle your stomach and make you feel better:

  • Eat a snack before you get up in the morning. Keep crackers by your bed and eat a few 20 minutes before trying to get up. This will help settle your stomach before you begin moving around.
  • Try snacking on ginger. For some, fresh or candied ginger can ease morning sickness.
  • Sip water throughout the day. Donít drink so much that you feel full, which can slosh around in your stomach and add to nausea, but drink a little every few minutes.
  • Avoid fatty, rich, or spicy foods. Fatty foods take longer to digest (and your digestion is slow enough already!) and bland foods tend to be easier on your stomach.
  • Try wearing an acupressure band Ė often sold as a motion-sickness band. There is a pressure point on your wrist that may help relieve nausea from pregnancy as well as motion.
  • Taking vitamin B6 supplements seems to help some women with morning sickness, but should only be taken in recommended doses, so first talk to your health care provider.

As annoying and exhausting as they can be, the nausea and vomiting of typical morning sickness wonít harm your baby. Even if donít gain any weight, or even lose a pound or two during your first trimester, you and your baby are most likely fine, as long as you stay hydrated and are keeping some food down.

If these measures arenít helpful, your nausea or vomiting persists after the 13th week, or if you are unable to keep any food or liquids down, talk to your doctor. He or she may prescribe antiemetic (anti-vomiting and nausea) drugs and determine whether you have a more serious condition called hyperemesis gravidarum.


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