Gut reaction: Managing morning sickness

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For everyone else, read on—we feel your pain (ah, the […]

For everyone else, read on—we feel your pain (ah, the memories) and we’re here to help you cope.
stomachMorning sickness? Not to criticize—we’re sure the term came about as a simple misunderstanding—but we would be positively overjoyed if the internal maladies of early pregnancy only lasted through the a.m. hours. Too many of us have suffered through gastrointestinal torment at all hours of the day and night. The illness might more aptly be named “mourning sickness,” as you grieve the loss of your appetite, social life and overall sense of decency (you never thought you’d puke in public, did you?). It can truly control you—and make you forget how much you wanted this pregnancy to begin with—if you don’t find a way to keep it under control. So listen to your body, and then show it who’s boss by taking simple steps to reign in the pain.
Why me?
Roughly three-quarters of expectant women go through a period of moderate to severe nausea and vomiting, usually beginning in the second month of pregnancy and lasting through the first trimester. Not all women experience morning sickness in the same way; you may end up sicker than the next mom if you’re young, obese, carrying multiples, or pregnant for the first time. Some also say that baby girls trigger greater nausea than budding boys, but don’t start painting the nursery pink just because you threw up three times today!
While the nausea generally fades around week 13 or 14, some women do suffer the effects longer than others. When you bring a baby on board, your hormones—most notably hCG and estrogen—rise and fluctuate, causing your body to undergo all kinds of changes and shoving your digestive system into a state of distress. You can’t do much about your hormones (you do need them, after all), but you can partially control the fatigue and emotional stress that often aggravate the problem.
What to do
When you feel absolutely awful, your first impulse may be to lie in bed, bemoaning your fate and avoiding any sniff or spoonful of food. Read this carefully: THAT WILL ONLY MAKE IT WORSE. The best way to get your giddy-up back is to quit dwelling on the nausea nonstop, keep something in your stomach at all times, and take care of your mind and body.
First: eat! All day. Start as soon as you wake up—keep crackers and water at your bedside so you can have a small snack even before you get out of bed, and bookend the day with a snack just before you go to sleep. Eat small, protein- and carbohydrate-packed meals throughout the day, and carry saltine crackers (or something equally inoffensive) when you’re on the go. If you’re sensitive to smells (and you probably are), eat your food cold or at room temperature so it’s less fragrant, and stick to bland foods for now. Try to eat healthily, but if toast and crackers are all you can keep down, go with that and don’t feel guilty. It’s important to make sure you’re getting enough liquid as well, so sip water or other benign beverages throughout the day.
Furthermore, distraction is a beautiful thing. Keep going to work if you can, or if you’re not working, spend time with family and friends, volunteer, work on your nursery —anything to shift your focus away from your gut. The days will go by faster (a good thing when you’re feeling lousy), and you’ll have something to show for those early weeks besides a knowledge of daytime soaps and a photographic mental image of the toilet lid. Keep your emotional self in check by noting the positive, avoiding stressful situations (no horror movies this month, please), and getting plenty of sleep. If you’re drinking fluids and eating even a little, your baby is growing just fine, so try not to worry about it; emotional distress can make you feel sicker.
If your eating habits and emotions are in line but you’re still feeling queasy, here are a handful of at-home remedies to try:

  • Ingest some ginger: fresh, candied or brewed.
  • Lemon juice in your water aids digestion, but even the smell of a fresh lemon can perk you up.
  • Acupressure bands, such as Sea-Bands, can relieve nausea by applying pressure to your wrists.
  • Sucking ice chips or ice pops can help you get fluid if you can’t down it in the usual way, and it can sometimes calm a troubled tummy.
  • Preggie Pops and Drops—available at—can soothe your stomach while satisfying your sweet tooth.

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