Written by: Cally Worden
There is no medical knowledge that can predict which expectant mothers will experience morning sickness. It is a hormonal lottery that leaves many women feeling far from blooming. Experts do know that it is not the baby that is the root of the problem, but hormones produced by the placenta. Great to know, but not terribly useful. What can pregnant women do to help themselves cope with morning sickness?
A Few Facts
It is important for all women to know that morning sickness of any severity affects women at random, and is not your fault. Around 70% of pregnant women will suffer from mild to severe morning sickness while carrying their baby, with the majority of cases reported in the first 12 weeks.
Approximately 25% of women will suffer nausea alone, with 45% being affected by vomiting as well. The most severe form of morning sickness is called Hyperemesis Gravidarum. This debilitating manifestation of morning sickness affects 1-1.5% of women, and can see sufferers experiencing severe and heavy bouts of projectile vomiting many times a day. At its most extreme it can pose a serious threat to the mother’s health.
Dealing with Advice
‘Helpful’ advice on morning sickness is regularly bandied about by other pregnant women, those who are already mothers, and many social media sites. For those women in the midst of nauseous gloom, this advice may be a help or a hindrance. Often all women want is understanding and a hug, not someone spouting suggestions that they have already tried, to no avail. We all know ginger is supposed to help, but it doesn’t always. Nor do dry crackers. If you are on the receiving end of countless suggestions such as this try to remember people are only trying to help. You can curse them when they’ve left.
Staying in Touch
One of the side-effects of morning sickness that is often overlooked is the potential for women to feel isolated. With the risk of vomiting a constant cause for concern, many women opt to remain at home, and over time can find themselves a little cut off from the world. If you are experiencing this, or have a friend who is, then finding opportunities for gentle social interaction among trusted friends and family can help enormously.
Reaching out to other women in similar circumstances is something that many women find helpful. Support forums online can help you to connect with others who know just what you are going through, and who can offer much-needed empathy.
The Whole Food Thing
Many women with morning sickness can’t bear to eat certain types of food, and in some cases any food at all. It’s okay to lose a little weight during this time, but if the pounds start falling away dramatically, it’s time to get help from your midwife or GP. Your body needs sustenance to support both you and your growing baby.
A lot of pregnant women report that keeping a food diary helps them to identify trigger foods in their diet. This increased awareness of bodily reactions can be helpful in warding off some bouts of morning sickness. In any event, it is vital to retain a good intake of fluids, and ensure that you get plenty of rest when you can.
In and out of the home, many pregnant women are obliged to work. Serious morning sickness can dramatically affect your ability to perform your normal duties, and some 30% of women take time off from employment as a result of their condition. Most employers are flexible where time off for morning sickness is concerned, and for help around the home it is essential to ask for assistance if you need it, and to accept any offers of help that come your way. Now is not the time to be proud, especially if you already have young children to look after.
Whatever your experience of morning sickness, it is a condition that will thankfully pass. For the majority of women the symptoms will be gone by around 12-14 weeks. For those unlucky few who suffer throughout their pregnancy a good support network is essential. If you have suffered from morning sickness and have any helpful support strategies to add then please let us know.