Pregnancy Dietitian Warwick RI
It’s what you don’t want to expect when you’re expecting, but there is help.
While it may be called morning sickness, anyone who’s had the misfortune of suffering through it knows it can strike at any time—morning, noon, or night—and last all day long.
After a bout of it while pregnant with my second child, I was curious about some of the whys and what-to-dos about this condition that can range from a slight annoyance to a downright danger.
First, a little background: It’s estimated that from 50% to 85% of pregnant woman experience morning sickness. Some feel just a little queasy when they wake up, but others are miserable for as long as six to 12 weeks with endless nausea, food and smell aversions, and sometimes vomiting.
A very small number of pregnant women develop hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of the condition that requires hospitalization. But for other women, there are some steps that can reduce the misery and ensure adequate nutrition intake.
Understanding a bit about what might cause morning sickness is the key to helping prevent or diminish it. While no one knows for sure why this happens during pregnancy, there are several theories. Among the suspected culprits are an extremely heightened sense of smell, the surge in hormone levels, and an excess of stomach acid. No matter the cause, what can you do to make it better?
• Avoid an empty or overly full stomach: Both an empty stomach and a too full belly can bring on feelings of nausea. The best thing you can do is eat small amounts very frequently—at least six small meals a day.
Start with the old crackers in bed approach. It really can help. Set your alarm to go off a bit earlier than usual so you have time to sit in bed for 20 to 30 minutes after you eat a few saltines, melba toasts, or some other plain, dry crackers. Then, throughout the day, try not to go for more than about two hours without eating, even if you don’t feel hungry. Getting a little something in your stomach may help keep the nausea at bay or at least tame it.
And, on the opposite end of the spectrum, if you’re famished, resist the urge to eat a lot of food at once. Pace yourself, and you’ll be much happier.
• Liquids: With the increasing blood volume that comes with pregnancy, as well as the extra burden on your body, you need fluids, especially if you’ve been vomiting. But don’t overdo it at one time. Your best bet is sipping fluids throughout the day to meet your needs. Guzzling a big drink can have the same effect as stuffing down a big meal—it may be too much for your stomach to handle at once, as can drinking a lot of fluid with your meals. Whether you’re at work, at home, in the car, or somewhere else, keep your beverage of choice close by to remind you to sip it regularly.
• Avoid offending smells: With your nose working overtime, common everyday smells can be en...