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Morning sickness – the techniques that could really help you feel better

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Morning sickness – the techniques that could really help you feel better

Morning sickness - the techniques that could really help you feel better

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) recently updated its morning sickness advice, and identified the key treatments ndash; from what to eat, to the latest medicines to take ndash; that are genuinely effective in relieving morning sickness.

lsquo;When my patients come to me with morning sickness, the first thing I tell them is that there are ways to help alleviate the nausea, says obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Laura Sirott.

lsquo;The first step is to try key natural treatments. But if these arent effective, theres a next step of effective medicines. You dont have to put up with it!

Its also useful to understand whats causing the nausea in the first place.

lsquo;The most popular theory is that morning sickness is your bodys reaction to the pregnancy hormone hCG, explains Laura. Youve probably heard of this hormone, its the one that made those two little blue lines magically appear in your pregnancy test. Its first produced when you become pregnant, and then makes you produce more progesterone, a chemical that keeps your placenta working properly and the lining of your uterus healthy.

It also keeps your uterus relaxed, allowing your baby to grow bigger ndash; and bigger, and bigger.

But it doesnt stop there. Scientists think that as well as relaxing your uterus, it relaxes your digestive system. This slows down how quickly you digest food, and can give you acid reflux, where digestive juices leak upwards into your oesophagus, which is enough to make anyone feel ill.

Studies also suggest that morning sickness may have evolved over thousands of years to protect mums-to-be from food poisoning, until their developing baby is strong enough to survive it. It doesnt harm your childs health, unless you cant keep food or drink down for a long time.

lsquo;Theres even an upside, says Laura. lsquo;Morning sickness is associated with a reduced risk of miscarriage and better developmental outcomes for the baby.

But what can you do when your morning sickness is so severe that you cant put up with it any more?

A lot of the research suggests that timing is important.

lsquo;Eat little and often, advises Laura. lsquo;You dont want to empty your stomach, or to overload it, as either of these can aggravate your morning sickness. And be aware of your fluid intake. Its essential to stay well-hydrated, but eating and drinking at the same time can increase nausea by making your stomach feel fuller. Instead, wait for 20 minutes after eating before having a drink.

Keeping a diary can be helpful if you want to work out exactly when to eat. A 2010 review found that around 85 per cent of women suffering from morning sickness have at least two episodes a day. If you keep a diary of your symptoms you are likely to see a pattern emerge, including times when you feel better, so aim to eat then.

Of course, what you eat is also important. Snacking on nuts and other high-protein snacks can relieve symptoms, and always avoid foods with a strong smell or that are spicy or fatty. lsquo;Work out what are your ldquo;trigger foodsrdquo; that make you feel nauseous, and avoid them, says Laura.

If you feel like you cant stomach any food at all, then many mums find the lsquo;BRAT diet of bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast works when all else fails. Its low in fat, easy to digest and replaces any nutrients you might have lost through being sick. Talk to your doctor before making any big changes to your diet, however.

lsquo;Consuming ginger can also really help, says Laura. lsquo;In one study, 70 per cent of pregnant women suffering from severe nausea found powdered ginger root effective. Try sipping ginger ale ndash; as long as its not overly carbonated or too cold ndash; and ginger tea, or eating ginger snaps.

The ACOG review also found that taking prenatal vitamins for three months before you become pregnant can help to protect you from morning sickness.

But if you try all of these things, and your nausea is still persistent and disruptive, Laura suggests you talk to your doctor about an antihistamine that is safe to take in pregnancy, for which you would need a prescription.

lsquo;If that doesnt work, the next step is an anti-emetic drug that prevents vomiting, she says. lsquo;But Id hope that by intervening early, we could stop the morning sickness before it progresses to that stage, so you can get on with enjoying your pregnancy.

The most severe form of nausea and vomiting, hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) affects up to three per cent of pregnancies. The Duchess of Cambridge was a high-profile sufferer during both her pregnancies. HG can be diagnosed when a woman looses five per cent of her pre-pregnancy weight and is dehydrated. This needs hospital treatment to rehydrate and stop the vomiting.

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