Morning sickness symptoms and remedies
Relieving morning sickness
No two mums experience pregnancy sickness in the same way, so what relieves the symptoms for one person may not work for another. If you’re experiencing mild pregnancy sickness, commonly called ‘morning sickness’, self-help remedies may be enough to help you manage symptoms. But if you’re suffering from more severe symptoms, you may need medication.
During pregnancy, some women may experience morning sickness. If you experience morning sickness here are some tips that may help you manage it:
- Rest is the most important strategy for managing morning sickness
- Eating little and often is also very important
- Sniffing lemon in a cloth or sucking hard sweets may help if smells trigger your symptoms
- Experiment with having drinks hot, ice-cold or lukewarm to find what works for you
What about other remedies?
Acupuncture, homeopathy, hypnotherapy and so on have not been found to have any beneficial results beyond a placebo effect. However, they are also unlikely to cause harm and can provide an opportunity for relaxation and pampering, so if you want to try them, do. Bear in mind that they can be expensive and if you are trying an invasive or physical therapy such as acupuncture or massage, then you should use a fully qualified practitioner who has specific pregnancy experience.
Does ginger help?
If you’re suffering pregnancy sickness, particularly hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), the chances are that everyone you meet will suggest you try ginger. There is a little bit of evidence that mild-to-moderate nausea and vomiting may be helped by taking 1,000 mg of pure ginger root extract per day.
However, in practice many women find that ginger can actually make symptoms worse as it is very strong-tasting and can increase acid reflux. Recently, researchers have found that over half of women with HG who tried ginger said it caused unpleasant side effects, and that even people suggesting it to them made them feel mentally worse.
Ginger-flavoured food products, such as ginger biscuits, don’t have enough ginger to have any actual effect. However, if the flavour is one that you enjoy then there is no harm in trying them – they can work by helping you eat little and often.
Treatment for hyperemesis gravidarum
Unlike morning sickness HG is a serious condition and needs medical treatment. The above strategies should only be used in addition to medical treatment, and trying them should not delay you seeking help from a doctor. Ginger, in particular, is likely to make your symptoms worse.
What medications are used for HG?
Your doctor may start with medications such as cyclizine, promethazine or prochlorperazine. If these are not controlling your symptoms, you can try a medication called ondansetron, which is effective for a lot of women. If you have severe HG and none of the medications are working, even when combined, then they may try you on steroids. Additionally, if you are becoming dehydrated, you may have to go to hospital for a drip.
All of the medications used have been around for many years and have never been found to cause harm to the baby. Recent evidence shows that not treating HG effectively with medication may increase risks to the baby and certainly causes significant suffering for mum.
Some of the medications can cause side effects for mum, though, such as drowsiness and – with ondansetron in particular – constipation. You may find that it’s a balance between managing symptoms and side effects.
Hyperemsis Ireland have lots of resources which can offer much more information about medications and treatments for HG.
Loneliness and isolation
Any level of pregnancy sickness can be isolating and depressing, but the more severe it is the more miserable it is likely to make you feel. HG, in particular, can leave you housebound or even bedbound for weeks on end, and it can seem that the world has forgotten about you.
In addition to medication, a large part of managing the condition is coping mentally with the misery such symptoms cause. Many women worry about the toll the illness is taking on their family and finances, and they may feel guilty about having negative thoughts towards their baby too. These feelings are natural and understandable. Try to remember that it is not your fault you are sick; you have a serious illness and it’s important for you and your baby that you rest as much as possible.
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.