Despite what its moniker may suggest, ‘morning sickness’ can actually occur at any time of day and affects an estimated 80 per cent of expectant mothers at some stage during their pregnancy. Morning sickness is thought to be the result of a chemical reaction and is the body’s response to the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
The infamous sickly sensation is familiar to many as the feeling of nausea or vomiting typically common during the earlier stages of pregnancy. Interestingly, a mere 2 per cent of women experience nausea only in the hours immediately after waking whilst 80 per cent of mums-to-be report nausea that endures for the entire day.
It’s never nice to feel under the weather, let alone all day long. Follow these five tips to discover natural remedies that are helpful for both mum and baby.
5 ways to relieve morning sickness naturally
The cornerstone of wellbeing is a healthy diet based on fresh, organic wholefoods, incorporating protein, fruit, vegetables, good fats and high-fibre foods. During pregnancy, however, the body undergoes significant changes that make it difficult to get all of your daily nutritional requirements from diet alone. The symptoms of morning sickness can worsen the situation as they not only reduce appetite but precious vitamins and minerals are also lost through vomiting.
A high protein diet is recommended as it takes longer to digest and will make you feel fuller for longer. Protein can be found in a wide variety of food including chicken, eggs, white fish, sheep and goat feta, nuts, legumes, beans, seeds and quinoa. Saturated fatty acids like fried and processed food are thought to do more harm than good and may even worsen symptoms.
In addition, bitter vegetables such as endive, globe artichoke and spinach can be mixed with lemon juice and hot water to make natural remedies. The bitter properties assist the liver to clear the hormones that cause morning sickness; bitter teas such as chamomile, dandelion root and peppermint can also be helpful in alleviating symptoms. As always, staying hydrated is key and it is advisable to drink about two litres of water daily.
Morning sickness can obviously dramatically reduce appetite, but nourishing and supporting your changing body with a regular intake of nutrient dense food must be a priority.
An empty stomach usually makes nausea worse, therefore the best strategy would be to eat small snacks little and often. I would recommend substituting the traditional three meals per day in favour of five smaller meals as large meals can often cause discomfort and even effect energy levels. The smaller meals will also help to regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels, reduce the feeling of nausea and stop you from reaching for sugary snacks.
Ginger is a favourite of mothers battling morning sickness and can really work to soothe unsettled stomachs. Ginger root has been used for centuries and has many medicinal benefits including treating digestive problems, heartburn and nausea.
I’m a big fan of organic ginger tea as it soothes symptoms of nausea, and you can add honey or lemon for taste (or even better, make your own blend with fresh grated ginger and boiling water). Ginger is naturally high in vitamin C and magnesium. It is also extremely versatile and can be incorporated into breakfast, lunch or dinner meals in juices, soups and stir-fries.
Vitamins and Minerals
The hormonal imbalance that takes place throughout pregnancy can often leave nutrient stores spent. To manage this, it is essential to maintain sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, folate, iron and zinc. Vitamin B6 is my favourite and has powerful properties for both pregnancy health and fighting nausea. This important nutrient can be found in bananas, eggplant, salmon, prunes, sunflower seeds, walnuts, chicken and sweet potatoes.
In addition to this, folate, iron and zinc are also beneficial for pregnancy health and prevent deficiencies which can lead to morning sickness. Folate is a B group vitamin and a pregnancy superhero. This vitamin is essential for the healthy development of the foetus in early pregnancy and can be found in a wide range of food including asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, oranges and peas. Usually, iron is required to make red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body and during pregnancy you need more iron because the volume of blood naturally increases. Iron can be found in red meat, spinach, and nuts. Finally, zinc is a mineral that helps support your immune system and can be found in chicken, pumpkin seeds, tofu and turkey.
Pregnancy can be exhausting and increased fatigue can make the symptoms of morning sickness even worse. It is very important that you listen to your body during this time and rest whenever possible, although this is easier said than done! If you are struggling with sleep while pregnant but need to keep a busy schedule, try going to bed an hour or two earlier.
Often, pregnant women have difficulty ensuring a consistent sleep pattern. Relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation will help to quieten the mind and prepare your body for sleep. In addition, sugary food and drink should be avoided.