Around 50-90% of women suffer from morning sickness during pregnancy. It is most common during weeks 6-8, but may start as early as two weeks after conception, and usually resolves by weeks 12-14, although rarely it may last longer. The best cure for morning sickness is prevention - going into your pregnancy with poor liver function, poor digestive function, poor blood sugar balance, poor nutritional status, food allergies or excessive stress can all contribute to the risk of morning sickness, so optimal naturopathic pre-conception care is ideal.
What causes morning sickness?
This is indeed the million dollar question. It is definitely related to increasing levels of HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin), which rise rapidly following implantation and reach their peak by week 12. There are many theories, from the effects of HCG on fat breakdown in the liver, through to its effects on blood sugar balance, and even the suggestion that the nausea is a primitive ‘toxin avoidance’ response to keep the foetus safe.
Interestingly, one study showed that 98% of women with a history of OCP (Oral Contraceptive Pill) use would have some vomiting during pregnancy. The Pill not only has hormonal effects, but is also known to deplete zinc and vitamin B6.
What can I do about morning sickness?
There are plenty of dietary tips you can get from your naturopath, acupuncturist or midwife. Natural remedies can often help alleviate morning sickness, but everyone is different. Acupuncture is also exceptionally good for morning sickness.
Eat small meals frequently (even a dry cracker is better than nothing!)
Avoid cold foods; this means ice creams, cold drinks, salads, etc. All food should be room temperature or warmer.
Avoid fats, acidic foods, and any foods you know you react to.
Have a protein-rich snack before bed to maintain blood sugar levels overnight.
Maintain good hydration.
Ensuring optimal levels of zinc, magnesium, chromium and Vitamin B6 is a great insurance policy against morning sickness. These nutrients all have a specific effect on the functioning of the pancreas and therefore on healthy blood sugar balance. Vitamin K is also useful.
Some of the best herbal morning sickness remedies treat the liver, encouraging more efficient metabolism of hormones.
Talk to our naturopath or medical herbalist about using herbs such as Milk Thistle, Globe Artichoke and Dandelion Root. These must be given under supervision but are excellent remedies. Fresh ginger root tea can also be made and sipped. Stress should be avoided at all costs! Homeopathics of use include: Ipecac, Pulstailla, and Nux Vomica.
Other remedies include: