Expert advice on dealing with morning sickness

Morning sickness affects approximately 70-80% of pregnant women. Supplied image.

Morning sickness affects approximately 70-80% of pregnant women. Supplied image.

Published Jan 24, 2024


For many women, pregnancy might be a beautiful and transformative journey, but for others it can often be a challenging ordeal.

Leading healthcare provider Affinity Health explained that one of the most common early pregnancy symptoms is morning sickness.

“Early pregnancy sickness is a natural response to the hormonal changes occurring during pregnancy,” Affinity Health CEO Murray Hewlett explained.

He added that while it can be uncomfortable, it is usually a positive sign that the pregnancy is progressing as expected.

What is morning sickness?

Hewlett said that morning sickness affects approximately 70-80% of pregnant women.

“While the name suggests that it occurs only in the morning, this condition can occur at any time or night.”

He added that morning sickness often begins around the sixth week of pregnancy and peaks between the ninth and 16th week.

What causes morning sickness?

While the exact cause is not fully understood, hormonal changes, notably the surge in human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), significantly trigger symptoms, Hewlett explained.

“Although every woman's experience with morning sickness is unique, symptoms often include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, increased salivation, sensitivity to smells, fatigue and dehydration due to fluid loss from vomiting.”

15 ways to manage morning sickness

Affinity Health has provided the following coping strategies and tips to help expecting mothers cope with the challenges of morning sickness:

1. Dietary adjustments

Eating smaller, more frequent meals to avoid an empty stomach can help reduce nausea. “Opt for bland, easy-to-digest foods like crackers, toast, or plain rice,” Hewlett said.

2. Hydration

Staying well-hydrated is crucial during pregnancy.

Hewlett recommended drinking fluids, such as water, herbal tea, or electrolyte-rich beverages, can help prevent dehydration.

3. Rest and stress management

Getting adequate rest is essential to manage fatigue and stress, which can exacerbate nausea.

“Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or prenatal yoga, can be beneficial,” Hewlett advised.

4. Medication

Healthcare providers may recommend anti-nausea medications if dietary and lifestyle changes do not provide relief.

5. Acupressure and alternative therapies

Some women find relief through acupressure wristbands or alternative therapies like acupuncture.

6. Prenatal vitamins

Taking prenatal vitamins as prescribed by a healthcare provider is essential to ensure the mother and baby receive crucial nutrients, Hewlett believes.

7. Ginger and lemon

Ginger and lemon are known for their soothing properties.

“Sipping on ginger tea or adding a slice of lemon to your water can provide relief from nausea,” Hewlett recommended.

8. Aromatherapy

Certain scents, such as peppermint or lavender, can help alleviate nausea.

“Consider using essential oils or scented candles for relaxation,” said Hewlett.

9. Stay cool

Avoid getting too hot, as heat can trigger nausea. Hewlett suggested for pregnant women experiencing morning sickness to stay in well-ventilated areas and to use fans or air conditioning when needed.

10. Distraction

Morning sickness sufferers should consider activities that take their mind off nausea, such as reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to calming music.

11. Support system

Lean on your support system, whether it's your partner, family, or friends, Hewlett recommended to pregnant women.

“Their understanding and assistance can make a significant difference during this time.”

12. Avoid trigger foods

Identify foods that tend to worsen your symptoms and avoid them.

“Sometimes, spicy, greasy, or highly seasoned foods can be triggers,” Hewlett said.

13. Herbal remedies

Some herbal remedies, like peppermint, rooibos, or chamomile tea, may relieve nausea.

14. Keep a journal

Keeping a journal to track when and what triggers your nausea can help you identify patterns and make necessary adjustments to your routine, Hewlett suggested.

15. Maintain good oral hygiene

Nausea can sometimes lead to bad breath or a metallic taste in your mouth, Hewlett said, suggesting that regularly brushing your teeth and using mouthwash can help combat this.

When to seek medical help

While morning sickness is generally considered a normal part of pregnancy, severe symptoms can lead to complications such as dehydration and weight loss, Affinity Health noted.

“If you experience severe nausea and vomiting, consult your healthcare provider,” Hewlett said.

“They can provide guidance, recommend treatments, and ensure the health and well-being of both you and your developing baby.”