When you find out you are pregnant it is so exciting to realise you are nurturing a little human inside of you, and then the nausea hits! Sometimes you wonder how that little person can be growing inside of you when you can’t keep any food down.
A huge 90% of women suffer from morning sickness, symptoms of which include nausea, vomiting and headaches (Bozzo et al 2001).
There is a good reason the statistics are so high – the female body has a beautiful, natural response to protect the little one growing inside of us by repelling us against foods potentially harmful to the fetus (Flaxman & Sherman 2000).
Along with this, our diets and lifestyle can be major contributors to experiencing morning sickness with stress, poor eating habits and vitamin deficiencies common causes. By consuming highly processed and packaged foods we inhibit the absorption of our vital vitamins and minerals and our bodies churn through more to digest and break down these unnatural foods.
Other factors that impair our absorption of necessary nutrients are stress, alcohol consumption, cigarettes, caffeine and the oral contraceptive pill (if you were on it prior to conceiving) – all of which inhibit nutrient absorption.
So while our body’s protective mechanisms are in overdrive there are some simple ways to kick nausea in the butt.
Here are my top five:
1. Snacking – scrap the three meals a day! Yep, you have been granted a wildcard to eat frequent, small and nutrient-dense meals because it takes a lot of energy to grow a little person. An empty tummy almost guarantees nausea so you need to get in first!
This doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want, you need to aim for nutritious, healthy foods and try to incorporate protein, carbs and good fats into each meal. If you are one of the many women who crave salty carbohydrates, avoid the convenient oven and potato chips and cook your own chips by slicing potatoes and coating them with coconut oil then sprinkle them with pink Himalayan sea salt. You can also make some homemade popcorn! Remember that each meal is a beautiful opportunity to nourish and connect with that little person growing inside you.
2. Vitamin B6 – this is food as medicine, my favourite! This very important nutrient found in bananas, eggplant, salmon, prunes, sunflower seeds, walnuts, chicken and sweet potatoes can help relieve symptoms of nausea (Shrim et al. 2006).
3. Sleep – fatigue exacerbates nausea even when you’re not pregnant! Going to bed an hour earlier than you normally would and squeezing in a nanna nap when your body tells you to will make the world of difference.
4. Acupressure bands for seasickness work a treat and you can get them from your local pharmacy. Minimal effort is required and they are relatively cheap.
5. Ginger – plain ginger tea can be hard for some women to stomach, so here is a delicious recipe you can try. Juice or grate a 10 cm piece of ginger, mix with the juice of a lemon in a pan with one tablespoon of coconut sugar until it forms a syrup. Add a little to some mineral water for a delicious drink to help settle your tummy. If you feel you need more guidance with your diet, a good supplement or some extra support head to your local naturopath.
Bozzo, P, Einarson, T, Koren, G, & Einarson, A 2011, 'Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP) and depression: cause or effect?', Clinical & Investigative Medicine, 34, 4, pp. E245-E248, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 June 2014.
Flaxman, S, & Sherman, P 2000, 'Morning sickness: a mechanism for protecting mother and embryo', The Quarterly Review Of Biology, 75, 2, pp. 113-148, MEDLINE Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 June 2014.
Shrim, A, Boskovic, R, Maltepe, C, Navios, Y, Garcia–Bournissen, F, & Koren, G 2006, 'Pregnancy outcome following use of large doses of vitamin B6 in the first trimester', Journal Of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 26, 8, pp. 749-751, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 June 2014.
About Cassandra Boylen
Cassandra is a naturopath and personal trainer committed to inspiring and educating the community on all aspects of health, wellness, nutrition and herbal medicine. She operates her own clinic in Perth, which has a special focus on women's health, fertility and public education.
Naturopath Anita Pierantozzi built on her degree with two postgraduate qualifications that helped her enter the conventional medicine industry, landing the highly coveted role of Senior Medical Education Officer at Redcliffe Hospital.