Morning Sickness

There are many early signs of pregnancy, such as fatigue, swollen or tender breasts, backaches, headaches, frequent urination, and bloating but one of the more obvious symptoms declaring pregnancy is nausea.  Oh, morning sickness!  If you’ve been trying to conceive for a while you may welcome this sensation of feeling nauseated and queasy but that welcome banner is not going to be up for long.  In fact for many women, the excitement of learning they are expecting a baby can be dampened by the nausea and vomiting that often comes in the first trimester.

Approximately 70-80% of pregnant women experience some degree of morning sickness.  Typically, morning sickness appears between the 6th and 16th week of pregnancy.  In unusually severe cases, morning sickness can persist through the duration of the pregnancy.  Although the nausea associated with morning sickness tends to be worse in the morning, it can occur at any time during the day.

In most cases, nausea associated with pregnancy does not require medical attention.  However, some cases result in a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, severe nausea and vomiting.  It occurs in 1-2% of pregnant women and must be monitored.  This condition can be very serious as it poses a health risk for the mother and baby due to serious loss of fluids and nutrients.  In severe cases, IV fluids and medications may be required to minimize the symptoms.  If you find that your morning sickness is causing weight loss and signs of dehydration, such as reduced urination, please consult your healthcare practitioner for treatment.

What causes morning sickness?

There are a few theories as to what causes nausea during pregnancy.  Researchers have suggested that an improper diet, drops in blood sugar, eating large or infrequent meals, hormonal changes, fatigue, emotional influences and stress may be contributing factors.

Treatment of Morning Sickness

Acupuncture is proven to be a safe and very effective tool in treating nausea, often providing immediate results.  Typically, weekly acupuncture treatments are sufficient.  More frequent sessions may be needed depending on the severity of the case.  Acupuncture not only helps reduce nausea but it is helpful in improving energy and alleviating otherPatient-centered approach integrating Eastern and Western healthcare - Morning Sickness discomforts commonly experienced in the first trimester such as bloating and fatigue.

Herbal formulas can be tough to swallow for the non-nauseated patient, but can be useful in addressing more severe cases of morning sickness.  Ginger on its own is a well-known herbal remedy in the treatment of nausea and vomiting.  It has been shown to reduce nausea in 2/3 of pregnant women suffering from morning sickness.

 Tips to help avoid or minimize symptoms of morning sickness: 

  • Minimize blood sugar fluctuations
    • Eat before getting hungry
    • Choose healthy foods that are high in fiber and include a protein with each snack
    • Eat smaller, more frequent meals
    • Eat something in the middle of the night or before getting out of bed in the morning
    • Avoid fatty, greasy or difficult to digest foods
    • Avoid dehydration, even slight dehydration can make nausea worse
    • Avoid any nausea triggers (foods, smells)
    • Don’t wear clothes that fit tightly around the abdomen
    • Acupuncture treatments
    • Ginger supplement
    • Herbal formula

Pregnancy is a special time, not to be overshadowed by nausea.  It’s worthwhile to seek treatment and be more comfortable so you’re better able to enjoy being pregnant.