Morning sickness, a misnomer for what often proves to be all day sickness, affects up to 50% of women and typically begins around the 6th week of pregnancy lasting for most of the first trimester and possibly longer for an unlucky few . “Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy,” the clinical term for morning sickness, is the result of a surge of hormones during pregnancy. While you may feel like death warmed over, morning sickness is harmless and only poses a threat to you and your baby if you can’t keep any food down, thereby keeping essential nutrients and electrolytes from you and your baby, a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum.
I am no stranger to morning sickness. The smell of red wine, cooking any sort of meat, and the smell of a New York City Street on a humid day were amongst my most dreaded aversions during each of my three pregnancies. I recall it so vividly that, to this day, the smell of red wine often takes me back to that awful “state of green”. I avoided putting myself in these situations at all costs, which meant I was less social, more reclusive and, in general, completely miserable.
Indeed, for me morning sickness was more than a physical symptom of pregnancy, it was accompanied by its friend, depression. So debilitating were my symptoms that I found myself in a constant state of malaise, as I battled to make it through each day, longing for sleep that would bring some relief. I lacked support; even my closest family and friends didn’t quite understand, never having dealt with nausea on this level during their pregnancies. Guilt and shame were factors too, I was well aware that so many others would long to be in my shoes, how dare I bemoan my situation? Morning sickness seemed like a small price to pay if it meant becoming and staying pregnant - something so many couples around me seemed to be struggling to do.
Twenty weeks seemed to be the magic point at which my symptoms let up and I was able to enjoy food again and, most importantly, appreciate my pregnancy. I am not sure what was worse, the unknown of pregnancy number one or the clinging to hope as I painstakingly approached the twenty-week mark in each subsequent pregnancies.
Of course, I tried most natural remedies available with some proving more successful than others.
During the first trimester of pregnancy number one, I tried a few remedies - Seabands, hoping they held the power to help me feel like my old self, and ginger chews - as two examples that didn’t do much for me personally. Ultimately, I kept some nutrients down and curbed hunger (a trigger itself) with small, frequent portions of fruit, orange juice, chips and dry toast.
Just like each woman and pregnancy is different, each woman’s experience – or lack thereof – of morning sickness is different, with a lucky few being completely spared.
With the help of our nutritionists at Partum Health, we have compiled a list of several strategies that may prove effective to reduce the queasiness. If you are prone to this unpleasant side effect of pregnancy, we hope at least one of these will bring some relief:
In closing, I will leave you with some food for thought (excuse the pun!). Each time I heaved, each time I hurled, each time I felt like dying I reminded myself that I was, in actual fact, not dying. On the contrary I was creating life. I clung to gratitude for this, tossed in a peach and some chips here and there, and before I knew it, I had turned a corner, able to soak up the second half of each pregnancy.