It’s one of the most well-known symptoms, one of the earliest signs and one of the worst parts of pregnancy, but (on the plus side!) it’s also a sign of a healthy and well established pregnancy… morning sickness.  Nausea affects around 70 per cent of pregnant women. It is often referred to as morning sickness, and for some women occurs only in the morning, but it can occur at any time during the day. Some women just feel sick; others actually vomit.

There are different theories about what causes morning sickness. Hormonal changes, changes in blood pressure and changes in your digestive system may all play a part. There is also a theory that morning sickness may help prevent any harmful toxins in your diet getting through to your baby. Tiredness can make feelings of nausea worse but won’t actually cause it.

Morning Sickness Signs

Feeling nauseous is one of the earliest signs that you are pregnant, beginning as early as a few days after you have missed your period. In the majority of cases, it tails off between three and four months, though in some cases it can persist throughout pregnancy. If this happens, especially if you are vomiting a lot, consult your doctor. Severe vomiting may require hospital treatment.

Although morning sickness can make you feel wretched, it won’t harm your baby. In fact there is evidence that if you suffer from it, you may be less likely to have a miscarriage. Rarely, morning sickness can develop into hyperemesis gravidarum which is an excessive form of morning sickness.

What Can I Do About It?

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  • Eat frequent small snacks rather than large meals
  • Don’t worry about a balanced diet but concentrate on eating what you can, when you can
  • Eat dry, bland foods like bread and crackers, and fresh fruit and vegetables. Avoid foods that are rich or fatty or spicy
  • Drink plenty of water or herb tea or fruit juice. Some women find that fizzy drinks help most. Don’t drink alcohol (you probably won’t be able to face it anyway)
  • Rest as much as you can
  • If cooking smells, tobacco smoke or perfumes make you feel sick, avoid them as much as possible
  • If you feel sick first thing in the morning, have a dry biscuit or a cracker and a cup of tea before you get up
  • Some women swear by ginger. Try ginger biscuits, crystallised ginger, ginger ale, ginger tea, or get some ginger in capsule form from a health food shop
  • Homeopathic and other alternative remedies may help. Consult a registered practitioner for advice
  • Some women find wearing the wristbands that are designed for travel sickness can ease the morning sickness. Don’t take any travel sickness medication without consulting your doctor
  • Research has shown that acupressure and acupuncture can help relieve morning sickness
  • Talking about the problem with someone supportive may not make the nausea go away, but can make it easier to cope with

If none of these self-help remedies has any effect, and you are finding the nausea hard to cope with, talk to your doctor, who may prescribe some medication.