Another interesting radio show on Radio 4 Case Notes, this time about morning sickness (2/3/2011). I was really interested to hear that we know so little about morning sickness, even though is is something that so many pregnant mum! Also, the term “morning sickness” is really a bit misleading. Many women experience the symptoms throughout the day!
Morning sickness can really interfere with our lives, and it often occurs at a time where we may not have shared the news of our pregnancies with friends or colleagues, which can make things a bit awkward. Also, people can be really quick to jump in with “fix its”, so pregnant women can be bombarded with suggestions for how to cope (more on coping methods below).
As acknowledged in the radio show , women are often told that it is just something they have to get through, that they just have to put up with, which can be demoralising and may leave a woman feeling helpless and frustrated. Women who experience intense or prolonged sickness may also struggle to bond with their baby in the womb. In some cases, where sickness is so intense, mums may fear getting pregnant again, as they worry they will have to go through it all over again!
On the other side of the coin, many women feel comforted by their morning sickness, as it makes them “feel pregnant”.
So what do we know about it?
- It typically begins between 4 and 6 weeks of pregnancy, with the most severe symptoms occurring around week 9. Often it disappears by about week 12 or 13 (though for some unfortunate women, they may experience sickness throughout their pregnancy);
- Symptoms can include nausea on its own, or nausea with vomiting;
- There is no link between the incidence of sickness and whether the baby is male or female;
- External triggers often make symptoms worse, such as smells.
That seems to be all we know for certain, and it’s not much more than most pregnant women could tell you themselves! What actually causes it is still in the realm of theory:
- The timing of sickness corresponds with the placental production of the hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). Hormonal production peaks at 10 weeks, and falls off between 14 and 16 weeks. Women carrying twins often experience increased sickness, which may be the result of 2 placentas;
- The sickness may be connected with an immunosuppression reaction (basically, suppression of the immune system to prevent mum’s immune system rejecting the baby).
And for those of you who are still in need of suggestions for how to cope, here are a few ideas below you might like to try.
- Munching on dry biscuits/crackers may help with nausea;
- Getting more rest;
- Drinking ginger tea/eating ginger biscuits;
- Eating little and often;
- Fresh air and light exercise;
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, fatty and spicy food;
- A vitamin B complex supplement (check with your doctor/midwife/herbalist before taking supplements);
- Peppermint tea;
- Homeopathic remedies can be helpful…need to consult a qualified homeopath to discuss; and
- Complementary therapies (reflexology, craniosacral therapy, etc.)
Do you know of any other suggestions that mums to be might like to try? Leave a comment below!