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Morning sickness

Morning sickness in some form affects about half of all pregnant women, usually in the early stages pregnancy, from 1 to 12-16 weeks.
It can take the form of a feeling of general un-wellness, nausea or actual vomiting, and can occur at any time of the day.

There is not one clear cause of morning sickness, but it appears that the symptoms are probably caused by either large numbers of hormones being released into the body, changes in blood pressure or changes in the digestive system.
Although morning sickness usually stops around the 12th to 16th week, it can persist through to the last few weeks of the pregnancy without causing any major damage to mother or baby. 'Morning' sickness does not necessarily occur in the morning, it is an umbrella term for feelings of nausea and vomiting at any time.
Morning sickness can take a variety of forms. Some women find that they feel a little unwell at some time during the day, and that no special action is required to combat the symptoms. Others find that they vomit more than once a day, and that they feel ill for most of the day.

There are a number of remedies for morning sickness, not all of which work for every pregnant woman, and some of which suit different degrees of symptoms.

Classic morning sickness - the feeling of nausea first thing in the morning can be caused by the action of moving first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. A solution to this is to eat some simple food, like a dry biscuit, water biscuit or piece of toast before rising in the morning.
Morning nausea can also be helped by eating something like cereal with milk last thing before going to sleep. Milk is useful because it is difficult to digest, so keeps the intestines active for longer.

Food can be a trigger for feelings of nausea; some women find the sight of some foods can cause feelings of nausea. Others find that it is the smell of food causes a feeling of queasiness. As well as avoiding cooking (a good excuse to get Dad-to-be to practise his culinary skills!) try buying foods that need little preparing and therefore are likely to have so strong a smell.
Other smells can also cause problems; some women find that perfumed products such as soaps and washing products, or the smell of cigarette smoke, make them feel sick, so avoidance is probably the best cure.

There are some general rules to keep to that should help prevent feelings of nausea, or reduce these feelings if they occur.

- Keep fluids in the system, even if it is only water that is drunk. Drink little and often rather than glassfuls at a time.

- Other fluids may be useful in combating feelings of nausea. Tea or herbal teas can be helpful, especially mint flavoured varieties. Fizzy drinks are known to settle the stomach, and some women find that lemon varieties are particularly effective

- Don't worry too much about eating a healthy diet at this time in the pregnancy. It is better to eat something, whether or not it is healthy, and keep it down, rather than eating nothing for fear of putting on weight.

- Some women find that B vitamins are useful to combat the feeling of morning sickness, although it is sensible to consult a GP before taking any new supplements, especially during pregnancy.

- Ginger in any form is reputedly helpful in stopping nausea and sickness. There are a variety of ways to get ginger into the diet. Root ginger is sold in health food shops and can be grated and chewed whenever necessary. Ginger tea is available, and can be drunk either hot or cold. Some women find that ginger biscuits are a good dual-action remedy, as they are a simple food that should not upset the stomach as well as introducing ginger into the diet. Similarly dual natured is ginger marmalade, as it can be added to bread or biscuits.

- Eating little and often is also helpful, as hunger can make the symptoms of morning sickness more severe, and eating whatever interests rather than the set food for the time of day is also a way of keeping some food in the system. For example, cereal with milk is a good food source for pregnant women because of the high calcium and fibre content, regardless of whether it is breakfast time or not.

- Avoid eating fatty, rich or spicy foods if morning sickness is a problem, as these types of foods can trigger symptoms. Individual foods can also cause problems, so keeping a diary of food eaten and any effects noticed can be a useful way of linking foods to symptoms.

-If at all possible, sleep whenever it feels necessary. Tiredness can make morning sickness feel worse, and short naps can help combat nausea.

- Glucose sweets can be a good way to stop feelings of nausea, and also help keep the blood sugar levels up. Sweets can be kept in the car, desk drawer or handbag and used in emergency situations.

Alternative Remedies
Many women find that alternative therapies such as reflexology, acupuncture and homeopathy can provide relief from the symptoms of morning sickness, and sometimes stop the condition from occurring altogether.
The simplest form of relief can be found from wearing an acupressure wristband. These are designed to combat travel sickness, but have been found to be very effective, as they press onto a pressure point and stop feelings of nausea.
Reflexology is also helpful. This may be due to its relaxing nature, but some women find that putting pressure on certain parts of the feet can reduce feelings of sickness.
Homeopathic remedies such as Ipecacuanha and Phosphorus are used to great effect by women suffering from morning sickness. It is wise to consult a homeopath before using remedies, as some are not recommended for pregnant women.
Herbal remedies are also helpful. Hop tea, black hawhound or mint-flavoured teas have a calming effect on the stomach.

More Serious Complications
While morning sickness can be very unpleasant, as long as some solid food can be kept down there should be no danger to either mother or baby. If food and fluids cannot be kept down, a GP should be consulted, as this can be a sign of hyperemesis gravidarum. This is a condition that causes severe vomiting in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, and affects the system so severely that no food or drink can be kept down at all. Severe hyperemesis gravidarum often means hospitalisation, as dehydration can be a problem with persistent vomiting. The hospital will also be able to monitor the condition of the baby as well as the mother during this period of stress.
This condition should not harm the growing baby, and hospital treatment, if necessary, is very effective at stopping severe vomiting, and keeping other symptoms to a minimum.

As unpleasant as morning sickness can be, it is often a good sign, as it means that the baby and its surrounding environment are developing well.

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