Naturopathic approach to alleviating morning sickness in pregnancy

natural-pregnancyMorning sickness is the acute, transient nausea associated with pregnancy. ‘Morning sickness’ is a misnomer – it may occur at any time of the day, though it most commonly occurs soon after waking. It is thought to be caused by increased levels of oestrogen being produced by the placenta and/or by increased levels of human chorionic gonadotropin. Morning sickness usually starts in the first month of the pregnancy, peaking in the 6th week, and continuing until the 16th week. For 50% of all sufferers, it ends by the 16th week of pregnancy. For the other half, it may take up to another month to get relief but some women will have morning sickness off and on for their entire pregnancy.


Risk factors

Some women suffer terribly from morning sickness, while others sail through with minimum nausea. The following factors are thought to play a part in morning sickness:

  • An increase in the circulating level of the hormone oestrogen. Oestrogen levels may increase by up to a hundredfold during pregnancy.
  • An increase in human chorionic gonadotropin.
  • Low blood sugar during pregnancy.
  • An increase in progesterone relaxes the muscles in the uterus, which prevents early childbirth, but may also relax the stomach and intestines, leading to nausea.
  • Intake of alcohol, sugar, oils and meat, which have been postulated to cause a natural trigger of morning sickness in the body as a way of discouraging ingestion of less healthy foods.


Signs and Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of morning sickness include

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Retching, belching, vomiting of sour fluid
  • Poor digestion with abdominal distension exacerbated by eating
  • Poor appetite
  • Fatigue—especially after meals


Diet and Lifestyle tips to help alleviate morning sickness

  • Pregnant women are making the greatest nutritional investment of their lives. It is important to ensure adequate nutritional intake by eating a diet based on fresh, organic wholefoods, incorporating protein, fruit, vegetables, good fats and high fibre foods.
  • Avoid an empty stomach. Eating small regular meals helps to maintain energy levels and may prevent morning sickness.
  • Don’t overeat – large meals can drain energy. Instead of eating three big meals per day, try six mini-meals to spread your kilojoule intake more evenly. This will result in more constant blood sugar and insulin levels.
  • Ginger, in capsules, tea, ginger ale or ginger beer.
  • Peppermint leaf tea, can help relieve nausea and morning sickness or gas.
  • Raspberry leaf tea, also relieves nausea, however is recommended after the first trimester only.
  • Fulfil food cravings.
  • Drink plenty of water – a dehydrated body functions less efficiently.
  • Eat iron rich foods – make sure diet includes iron rich foods such as lean red meat.
  • Ensure adequate, regular, and consistent amounts of sleep each night.
  • Effective relaxation is essential – try techniques such as yoga or meditation.
  • Maintaining a reasonable work and personal schedule is important.
  • Address chronic pain and/or depression.
  • Cut down caffeine.
  • Some women find that aromatherapy can help – with essential oils of lemon, lime, orange and peppermint (a few drops in a vaporiser) can ease nausea.