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Morning Sickness and Natural Medicine

Morning sickness is a very common condition in the first trimester or pregnancy. Symptoms can range from mild food aversions, to nausea, dry wretching and vomiting. Sometimes these symptoms are tolerable, however some women find that morning sickness (or sometimes "all day sickness") makes carrying out simple daily tasks impossible. The severe form of morning sickness is known as "hyperemesis gravidarum" and often results in hospitalisation to prevent dehydration and malnutrition.

What causes morning sickness?

The actual biological mechanism for morning sickness is poorly understood but is usually thought to be caused by changes in hormones, blood sugar metabolism and blood pressure changes.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and naturopathic medicine views each case of morning sickness individually. Each woman will find her morning sickness may be triggered by different factors, including:

  • Tiredness - does your nausea and vomiting get worse as the day wears on, after exertion or following poor sleep?
  • Extended periods between eating or on waking.
  • Smells - common ones include meat and fish, but may include smells that you enjoyed last week).
  • Foods - it is common to have aversions to foods in pregnancy. Like smells, foods that you have always loved may be completely off limits at stages of your pregnancy. Pay attention to how you feel after eating raw, rich, spicy, creamy/dairy, highly sweet and fatty foods as some of these categories of foods may make your condition worse, but be may be fine for someone else.
  • Emotional stress - experiencing strong or ongoing emotional states including irritation, frustration, resentment, anger, worry or feeling overwhelmed or dwelling on a topic may aggravate your symptoms.

How to relieve morning sickness

If you suffer from morning sickness you need to discuss the factors that make your symptoms worse or better with your practitioner. The following remedies may be recommended based on your individual situation:

  • Rest - in your first trimester get more sleep. Don't fight the urge to go to bed earlier in the evening. Set your self up for a few months of wonderfully regenerative early nights.
  • Eat small amounts regularly - small amounts of food eaten regularly, particularly before the times you usually feel sick, may maintain a stable carbohydrate metabolism.
  • Herbs - commonly ginger and mint - these pungent herbs have long been used to settle nausea and vomiting. A range of other herbs can be useful too. Herbs can be used in teas, cooking, baking or in a tonic made for just you.
  • Acupuncture acupuncture is often effective at relieving nausea and vomiting. Acupuncture points can be varied to make a difference to the type of morning sickness you are presenting with. We can also demonstrate some acupressure points that you can stimulate on yourself as needed. Usually visits are weekly or twice weekly (for severe morning sickness) and give you another opportunity to take a relaxing lie down.
  • Aromatherapy - if smells are triggering your nausea add a drop of pure essential oil (from the mint or citrus families) to a tissue to carry around with you to inhale when you came across an offending aroma.

There are many other nutritional, herbal, dietary and lifestyle interventions that may alleviate morning sickness. Talk to your practitioner to find how to have you feeling your best in a way that is safe for you and your baby.


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