Blog #3 – Morning sickness
I was hoping that by 24 weeks of pregnancy, I’d be able to write about ‘morning sickness’ in the past tense. But unfortunately, it is ongoing, and something I am having to deal with on an almost daily basis. And who thought it was a good idea to name it morning sickness? On bad days I’m sick all day, and on good days I can wake up feeling a little sick, or end my day struggling with my evening meal.
Also more appropriately known as nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, morning sickness usually resolves by weeks 16-20. This was the milestone I had in my mind when I got into the 2nd trimester and was still requiring 2 or 3 different anti-sickness pills each day. But for some unlucky mothers-to-be, vomiting and nausea can go on throughout the pregnancy. Sadly, I think I might be one of those. But don’t fret – what I had was hyperemesis, and for most people, things won’t get this bad. So although non-medical ways of managing it didn’t really work for me, they are worth trying if you are experiencing nausea and vomiting.
There is some weak evidence that ginger helps, and has proven to be better than a placebo in trials. You can try ginger lozenges or tea, or chew on preserved or candied ginger. Ginger biscuits can also be useful, but be aware of their sugar content. Keeping some ginger biscuits next to the bed is a good idea too, as many mums-to-be will find that nibbling on a biccie before getting out of bed in the morning also helps to prevent severe sickness. As advised by many others, I tried keeping a packet of crackers next to my bed, but found that savoury food kept repeating on me because of indigestion, and this made my vomiting much worse, whereas keeping things sweet helped. Obviously it isn’t ideal to be consuming a lot of processed foods and sugar, particularly during pregnancy, and you will need to rethink this if you are battling diabetes in pregnancy.
I was told by my midwife to try small meals, taken often, and this really does help. Rather than having a stomach full of food to deal with, I have been eating five or six small meals and snacks a day, including fruit, yoghurt, crackers with (vegan) cheese and cereal with soya milk. I have found that I have honed down my food list to avoid those that either triggered vomiting because of their smell, or just because I always seemed to vomit after eating them. To be honest, this last group have become difficult to even think about eating, but I’ll cover food aversions and cravings in another blog, because as a vegan, this can be a difficult hurdle to overcome.
Another treatment that may be worth trying is acupuncture. Some evidence has been demonstrated for its use for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, but if you can’t afford sessions, or aren’t keen to try it, perhaps acupressure might work for you. Sea bands are elasticated bracelets with a small plastic bead which pushes into the acupressure point of the wrist that that has been shown to give some people relief from nausea and vomiting. These bands can be bought from many pharmacies, and as they don’t cause any harm, they may be worth trying.
I tried to put off using medications, but when I got to the point of not being able to hold down any food, I had to admit defeat. Safe medications can be prescribed by your GP, and these should be considered if you are struggling using the above measures I described, if your symptoms are severe, and if they are stopping you from carrying out your usual daily activities. Although medication didn’t stop my symptoms completely, it did take the edge off them, allowing me to return to work before the Coronavirus pandemic sent me home again.
I’m not going to give you a list of foods that are better or worse for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, because everybody is different and you will find your own triggers and solutions. But one final topic I will mention is vitamins. I have covered this before in another blog (https://thevegandoctor.co.uk/2018/02/13/a-healthy-vegan-pregnancy/) so I won’t write about it again. But I will say that if you are vomiting or suffering from food aversions, it’s all the more important to be taking these vitamins, as you are unlikely to be getting everything you need in your diet. That is if you can hold them down!
Thanks for reading,
The Vegan Doctor