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The causes and treatment of morning sickness

Health
Young woman struggling with morning sickness

Contrary to its name, the nausea and vomiting associated with “morning sickness” can happen at any time of the day.
“Morning sickness occurs in about half to two-thirds of pregnant women,” says Dr. Xaviera Carter, an OB-GYN with Tidelands Health Women’s Center. “The good news is that it rarely lasts beyond the first trimester.”
What causes morning sickness in the first place? Research shows it’s probably related to a combination of hormonal changes, altered metabolism and a fluctuation of blood-sugar levels, according to Dr. Carter. It’s unclear why some women suffer from morning sickness while others don’t, or why some women experience it during one pregnancy but not another.
“Most morning sickness is not dangerous,” Dr. Carter says. “And studies show that moderate morning sickness is associated with a significantly reduced risk of miscarriage.”

Treatment

That may be comforting news, but upwards of three months of morning sickness can be trying for expectant mothers trying to prepare for the new baby and balance their other life responsibilities. Here are six tips from Dr. Carter on how to combat it:

  • Drink lots of water and watch your diet (details below).
  • Eat five or more meals a day instead of the traditional three.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes.
  • Avoid strong odors (perfume and gasoline can be especially noxious).
  • Delegate the cooking of meals to someone else.
  • Keep dry crackers or toast, preferably whole-grain food, at your bedside. Eat it before you get out of bed. An empty stomach, Dr. Carter says, can aggravate morning sickness.

As to diet, Dr. Carter recommends whole-grain foods (especially brown rice), sweet potatoes, bananas, nuts, red meat, legumes, peppermint and both ginger and ginger tea, the latter being especially good in fighting nausea, Dr. Carter says.
If you are concerned about your morning sickness, make sure to talk to your care provider, Dr. Carter says. Anti-nausea medications are available if needed.

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