Morning Sickness ..
Updated: Mar 5
.. arguably the most under rated and offensive generic name given to what is often a whole day consuming and long lasting condition. An estimated 90% of women are thought to suffer with nausea and/or vomiting in the first trimester of their pregnancy. The symptoms aren't just experienced as the name suggests 'in the morning', but they can affect sufferers throughout the day/night and last from before you have even missed a period, until around 12 weeks into your pregnancy.
The science behind pregnancy associated nausea and vomiting is thought to be in the surge of the hormones progesterone and oestrogen which peak in the first trimester. There are also fluctuations in blood pressure and metabolism as well as enormous physical and chemical changes to the body that pregnancy triggers, all thought to be additional factors in the symptoms of nausea and vomiting. If you are pregnant but don’t feel nauseated this is also perfectly normal. Many women will not experience this symptom of pregnancy, others will mildly and others strongly and significantly. At its worst, women cannot even tolerate light diet or fluids. This condition is known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum where hospitalisation initially is required with IV hydration, anti sickness injections often followed by anti sickness tablets that may need to be changed dependent on their effectiveness for you. This condition is thought to effect a much smaller proportion of women. For the majority of women with this pregnancy symptom, the experience will not require hospitalisation and for many women, they will never actually vomit. However, the all day on/off feeling of being on the most turbulent boat ever or having the worlds worst hangover you just can’t eat or rest yourself out of, can be extremely debilitating. A heightened sense of smell to most things can enhance or trigger these strong waves of nausea and this is often all coupled with extreme fatigue.
This strikes at at a time many chose not to let employers, friends and even family know of their pregnancy. This lends to being a very testing time mixed with often joy and shock at how awful you feel, with an inability to share your physical and emotional wellness.
Pregnancy is not an illness but it may make you feel unexpectedly very unwell especially in the first trimester. There are many claims that certain products can, may and will help. For some, these products may give some relief, but for others none at all so it’s important not to be disillusioned. Talk to your midwife about how you are feeling. If you can, share your news with your manager, close work colleagues, friends and family. This may help enormously as they can hopefully help ease your work load and give you some much needed sympathy. You need kindness in abundance and people need to be understanding of this all consuming condition. Eat little and often - plain foods are ideal and at this stage of the pregnancy you often crave carbohydrates. Try not to be too hard on yourself about your ‘not so healthy’ food desires and limited exercise routine in this first trimester. Listen to your body - it’s enormously clever. Your energy levels and desire to eat a wider variety of fruit and veg often returns in the second trimester. Rest as much as you can. And if you have little ones please seek family and friend support to help you.
There is some evidence in ginger consumption. Some women try sipping peppermint tea, acupressure techniques and travel sickness bands, sprays and numerous potions and lotions with varying degrees of relief. There is even links to sperm being beneficial to help ease symptoms of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Thankfully this study needs much further research into it.
Tell yourself and know that this will and does pass for the vast majority of women. Surround yourself with affirmations reminding you that you are a day closer to these sensations passing and that you will feel like yourself again. Physically cross the days off in a diary if this helps. Remember that you have the empathy of every woman ever feeling the strength of this vile side effect of pregnancy. For those that do not give you this, they lack the understanding of how debilitating this first trimester can be for many women battling through the days and weeks. Let’s hope for far more conversation and compassion for this horrid pregnancy symptom in the future and if reading this now whilst experiencing these symptoms, remember tomorrow is another day and you are a step closer to these symptoms easing.