Today we have heard the wonderful news that William and Kate, HRH the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are expecting their first child in 2013.
Unfortunately, poor Kate is suffering from severe vomiting, or hyperemesis gravidarum, to name it correctly. This is a different, and more severe, condition than regular morning sickness and frequently requires hospital treatment due to dehydration and associated problems.
This blog focuses on the common form of morning sickness experienced by many new mums and looks at a few ways to help symptoms of nausea, vomiting and tiredness.
There are many old wives’ tales surrounding morning sickness, many I’m sure you will have heard about or even been told while you were suffering. I remember hearing: “Sickness means it’s a strong pregnancy as the hormones are stronger”. True or not, I think it just makes many women worry that because they’re not sick that it could highlight a problem.
“The more sick you are means a higher chance of having a baby girl!” Well, I know a lady who was sick for nine whole months until the day she gave birth – to a boy!!
I’ve had two beautiful, healthy baby girls and suffered with morning sickness both times. It generally starts between 6-8 weeks into the pregnancy (remember that pregnancy is dated from your last period so when you’re 4 weeks it’s actually only two to three since baby was conceived!) and often comes on as suddenly as a stomach bug. One day you’re fine, the next day – BAM! – you’re getting acquainted with your toilet bowl.
I hadn’t taken a pregnancy test when I suddenly started being rather ill on a flight from LA to London. The cabin crew were so lovely, telling me that it was fine, we’d be landing soon and not to worry, lots of people get travel sick!! I had a some strange sensations while on holiday, emotional ones, so there was a thought in the back of my mind that maybe I was already pregnant. Having only come off the pill a matter of days before my holiday I wasn’t expecting it so soon!
My morning sickness was, thankfully, confined to mornings but I could turn nauseous at the drop of a hat – or the opening of a fridge to be more precise! I couldn’t stand the smell of mint and even had to source children’s strawberry and orange toothpastes just to clean my own teeth.
I used lemon and ginger herbal tea first thing in the morning, rather than food until the vomiting had passed. On arrival at work, about 9 am, I’d make a big plate of rice cakes with peanut butter, banana and honey. This combination of protein, carbohydrates, fat, fibre and sugar seemed to do the trick. It’s not a good idea to starve, through fear of being ill, as your baby and your body need the nutrients.
Fresh air helps with most things and definitely with morning sickness. Try to get outside a few times everyday; easier in the summer for sure but try your best anyway. A quick ten to fifteen minute walk, straying not too far from public amenities, your car or your house, will do the trick. Not to mention, of course, that exercise will help to strengthen your muscles, improve cardiovascular fitness and help prepare you for the physical strain of childbirth and child-rearing.
If you’re already a frequent exerciser, a gym bunny perhaps, then you may find that this short stage of pregnancy is a time to take it a little easier, perhaps even swapping the gym for walks. I was doing a lot of Bikram yoga before my first pregnancy but there was no way my body could cope with the heat once the nausea set in. Remember too that in the early stages of pregnancy it is not advisable to get overheated.
Vitamin B6 can be taken safely during pregnancy to help combat morning sickness. I took it alongside a Vitamin B-Complex to achieve a better balance. Ask in your local health food store for the best product to suit you.
Acupuncture may be available through your health service/GP/hospital. I tried this during my second pregnancy and found it quite helpful. Sometimes just having someone take care of you, put an arm round your shoulder or listen to you can be all you need to feel a little better. Acupuncture can help bring you that physical touch. The needles shouldn’t hurt when they go in and are completely safe in pregnancy when carried out by an experienced professional. Ask other mums in your area for recommendations.
Get enough sleep! In the early and late stages of pregnancy you’ll get very tired. If you don’t know you’re pregnant then this might be one of the early signs (that and swollen breasts a la Barbie!). Take all opportunities to have a short nap in the daytime; just listen to your body – you know it best.
If you’re sick during your first pregnancy you can call time out whenever you wish. When you’re sick and have to entertain a toddler, ensure he’s fed, cleaned, taken to nursery and to the park, then life certainly gets more stressful. It appears to be true that morning sickness gets worse with each pregnancy. I can remember crawling around on my hands and knees for about an hour just trying to put my 2 year old’s toys away. I was very lucky that my in-laws took her to their house for a week to give me a break. It is important for you and your child (children) that mummy gets a break, either for a few hours or a few days. As I always say, a healthy mummy is a happy mummy! If you’re part of a group of mums and babies (perhaps you met during antenatal or NCT classes) then try to call in a few favours to be repaid at a later date.
I’m a true believer in listening to your body at any stage in your life, but during pregnancy it’s especially important. There will be certain smells, tastes, textures and flavours in food and drink that will be repulsive for a few weeks, while others will suddenly seem far more attractive. I had a penchant for childhood foods: sausage and mash, fish fingers, chips and peas, rubbish milk chocolate and even fish cakes made from canned pilchards (I have my mum to thank for giving me pilchard sandwiches at primary school!). I still kept within healthy portion sizes and gained only around 2 stone (28 pounds) during both pregnancies. I think that your body naturally craves the things it needs. So craving crisps (chips) might mean you need a little more salt, craving steak can mean a need for more iron while craving sugar can be a hormonal imbalance or a sign of tiredness.
With the internet so crammed full of useful (and sometimes useless!) information you will be able to find lots of ideas for coping with morning sickness. The best idea is to find some support, either through personal friendships or through online groups such as Mums In Jersey (Click here to visit the Facebook site). Speak to other mums who have been through similar experiences and get recommendations and ideas from them.
In the meantime, please feel free to post your comments about morning sickness and remedies that worked (or didn’t work) for you. I hope this blog will help you on your journey and wish you a safe, healthy pregnancy.