Morning sickness is a bit of a misnomer; while morning is the most common time to experience feelings of nausea, morning sickness can be experienced at any point in the day – especially if you are carrying twins. Researchers aren’t entirely sure what causes morning sickness, but there is a general consensus that morning sickness is at least partially related to hCG, (human chorionic gonadotropin), a hormone produced during pregnancy. During a multiple pregnancy, hCG levels are higher than in a singleton pregnancy which explains why episodes of morning sickness tend to be elevated in twin pregnancies. This leaves many moms asking how to cope with morning sickness.
So much stuff happens while you’re pregnant and after you give birth, sometimes it feels as though aliens have taken over your body! Listed below are a few common pre and post natal side effects, and foods that help to alleviate the symptoms.
Constipation: this uncomfortable side effect of pregnancy and birth is all too common. Make sure you seek out fiber rich foods and whole grains. Oats also have a mild laxative effect.
Include more quality omega 3 oils to help lubricate the digestive system. Foods like flax, fish, raw nuts and seeds, as well as fiber rich foods, legumes, fruits (such as pears, blueberries, prunes, figs), and veggies like cauliflower. Olives are also known to help stimulate peristalsis and parsnips helps to improve bowel function.
Low energy/fatigue: whether you’re pregnant or a run-off-your feet parent, chances are you’re tired to minimize these effects, be sure you consume complete proteins either from animal products (fish, eggs or a combination of vegetarian sources, like whole grains combined with beans or legumes), ion rich foods including dark green leafy veggies as well as avocados (which are known to prevent anemia) and beets (which act as a blood builder), and complex carbs, and finally whole grains are great too – but make sure to prepare them properly by soaking the grains to eliminate phytic acid, which inhibits nutrient absorption.
Lack of breast milk: quinoa helps stimulate milk flow, as well as dark green leafy vegetables. Avoid sage, as it slows down milk production.
Postpartum depression: fluctuating hormones and lack of sleep can cause a roller coaster of emotions that all mothers can relate to, but sometimes these lows can be longer lasting and more intense then the regular ‘baby blues’. It’s always important to talk to your doctor if you suspect you may be experiencing post partum depression. It is also known that increasing foods high in omega 3 fatty acids, such as nuts, seeds, fish (mackerel) also helps to balance hormones. Increase intake of foods containing B vitamins like nutritional yeast, eggs, whole grains and green leafy vegetables. Foods with slow release sugars such as whole grains, legumes and starchy vegetables will help ensure that your sugar levels are not constantly peaking and crashing.
Morning sickness: who ever named it ‘morning sickness’ clearly was never pregnant. For many people, ginger can alleviate the symptoms, it may also help to increase vitamin B6 rich foods – such as millet, buckwheat and oats.
Tissue healing: omega 3 rich foods (salmon, walnuts and flax seeds) which are anti-inflammatory can help with tissue healing after giving birth. It’s best to avoid the night shade family (peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes etc.) which are pro-inflammatory. Also do your best to include more antioxidant rich foods (cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower etc., whole grains, berries etc.) in your diet.
Colicky baby: when you’re breastfeeding, the foods you consume go right through to your breast milk and can affect your baby. Avoid gas-promoting foods like garlic, onions, beans, legumes, and vegetables from the cruciferous broccoli, cauliflower family. Brown rice helps with colic when given to both baby (as rice water) and mother.
Heartburn: this is a common affliction amongst pregnant ladies, even those who had not experienced it before. Try to increase consumption of complex carbs, which are less likely to increase acidity. Heartburn is caused when stomach acid is washed back into the esophagus. eat foods like broccoli, brown rice, winter squash, and potatoes. Also include foods rich in vitamin B5, which helps break down fats, carbs and proteins, and helps to convert them into useable compounds. Examples of vitamin B5 rich foods include avocados, yogurt, sunflower seeds, salmon & mushrooms. Digestive enzymes can also be quite helpful, both papaya and pineapple are full of enzymes which will help aide digestion. Be sure to eat small meals throughout the day and be sure to chew thoroughly.
If you are not one of the lucky few who feels great during the first trimester, read on. As hormones shift in early pregnancy, morning sickness, nausea and vomiting can wreak havoc on daily life. For morning sickness rememedies you may have tried preggo pops, tums and dry crackers, but there are a few other options as well. Motherisk is run through Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and provides excellent support for pregnancy and parenting. The phenomenal Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy (NVP) forum is great.
Here are some morning sickness remedy tips:
- Ice cold drinks can calm the stomach.
- Complex carbohydrates are best.
- Eat every 2 hours.
- Limit straight milk.
- Talk to a health provider about Diclectin, a drug that can help.
- Ginger settles the stomach.
- Freezing Gatorade in ice cube trays can help keep you hydrated and replace electrolytes.
- Grab an essential oil that calms you (grapefruit is amazing).
- You can try this old home remedy: 1T pure apple cider vinegar, 8oz. filtered water, and 1T pure honey
- Take some Vitamin B6
- Sea Bands can help by using acupressure on the inside of the wrist
- Licorice (tea or candy) has been said to help greatly
And if that doesn’t work, go buy yourself a comfy Juicy tracksuit, get a massage and get some firefighters to fan you with palm leaves. It’s worth a try.
Motherisk Nausea Hotline: 1-800-436-8477
Some women breeze through pregnancies with no trouble at all, or at least they weather the symptoms with few complaints. Some women, however, have a harder time of it. There are many reasons why you could have a difficult pregnancy (as in, one rife with negative stuff), such as twins or other physical issues, but doctors honestly don’t know what a lot of them are! Regardless of the why, here are some tips on the how of managing a difficult pregnancy.
Morning Sickness…Afternoon Sickness…Night Sickness…
Most of us experienced some nausea during our pregnancies; I know during my first, with my daughter, I felt like I was carsick all the time: completely and utterly miserable, the idea of food gagged me…but I couldn’t actually vomit, which might have brought on some relief. The only thing I could manage to eat were baked potatoes, with nothing on them but a little sour cream. Then, I hit the second trimester and it changed overnight, and I could eat whatever I wanted…and I did. With my sons, I had nothing but a little nausea, nothing serious. However, some women have a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, where they can’t choke anything down for extended times, and it can extend throughout the pregnancy. This can be dangerous, because your body and that growing baby need lots of fluids and nutrients, and persistent nausea can mess with your electrolyte levels, leading to serious complications. How to deal with it?
See your doctor. He or she will probably try to let the nausea run its course for a little while, but if you’re unable to keep fluids down, persist and don’t let the doc blow off your symptoms. They will have to put you on IV fluids and nutrients for a little while, and may prescribe antiemetic drugs to see if that reduces the vomiting. Hyperemesis gravidarum usually resolves itself by 20 weeks.
Some babies just want to come out early. Perhaps you have twins, or an “incompetent cervix” or are just prone too pre-term labor. You get confined to bedrest, maybe only a few months into your pregnancy. What do you do?
Keep busy, and obey the doctor. I know from experience, bedrest sucks. Sure, you think at first enforced naptime is awesome, but then the cabin fever sets in. You may get uncomfortable if you’re further along or carrying twins (amazing how lying down can cause the back and hips to ache). You begin randomly Googling your condition, then move on to the topic of problems in pregnancy, then into the scary realm of birth defects and such…and then you’re freaked out. The only thing to do is to give yourself something constructive to do.
- Write, read, sketch, try to work from home if you have that option.
- Limit your internet usage—ban sites on pregnancy and anything health-related.
- Do exercises for the bed-bound (approved by the doctor, of course), such as leg lifts, ankle circles, bicep curls, etc., to keep busy and keep fit.
- Pick up a new hobby that keeps your hands busy: cross-stitching, knitting, and crocheting are excellent; puzzles; you can even try your hand at making models, which your hubby and boy children would love to help with.
- Play games: keep your phone and laptop handy for solo gaming; invest in a deck of cards, a set of dominoes, and some board games to play with your family.
- Watch movies and TV—but try to keep it lighthearted.
This is a catch-all category that encompasses all manner of difficulties, such as:
- Try to be careful when you go to the bathroom, meaning, don’t strain.
- Sit on a pillow (yes, you may need to invest in one of those donut pillows; all the moms will understand
- Sitz baths, hemorrhoid creams, and witch hazel soaked pads are all tremendous reliefs
- Lie on your left side with a pillow between your knees, or sit leaning to one side or the other, not directly on your rear end.
- It sounds like a simplistic suggestion, but it’s the most effective: don’t eat spicy foods or those that can cause indigestion, like too much citrus or acidic stuff like tomatoes or onions. Some women find that milk products aggravate their indigestion, too.
- For gas and indigestion, avoid too many high-fiber foods that may cause bloat and gas, such as broccoli and whole grain cereals, although these are good for helping with constipation.
- Don’t eat at night. When you eat and lie down acid can easily escape the stomach, owing to the hormones your body is secreting to relax your connective tissues.
- Take OTC remedies like Tums, which also give much-needed calcium
- Lie on your left side with a pillow between your knees. This not only improves circulation, it also helps with digestion.
- Lie on your back but with a pillow in the small of your back, propped up, so the excess acid doesn’t have the opportunity to use a prone position to creep up your esophagus.
Q: Are there any vitamins that will help with morning sickness?