Tips to manage pregnancy sickness

According to NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in the UK) close to 80% of pregnant women experience sickness, with most conditions improving or stopping completely by around 16 to 20 weeks. 


What is pregnancy sickness? 

Pregnancy sickness refers to feelings of nausea and/or vomiting and an unpleasant taste in the mouth – sometimes described as 'metallic' or 'mouldy' – from the start of pregnancy, and, contrary to the popular phrase, 'morning sickness' can occur at any time of day. It can be quite debilitating whilst you are also managing work and life. 

What causes it?

Pregnancy sickness is often attributed to the increase of the hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) particularly in the first trimester as the levels are rapidly rising, then fall around 12-14 weeks when most sickness resolves. If you are carrying twins, hCG hormone levels are higher thus you may experience greater symptoms. 

Other potential causes of sickness include a drop in blood sugar and deficiencies in zinc and vitamin B6. 

If you are vomiting, then you will need to pay extra attention to rehydrating and replacing magnesium which is lost through vomit. 

Top tips to cope with pregnancy sickness

Food and diet 

Although you may not feel like it, it is important to eat or drink something in the morning when you wake up. Keep it simple and not too flavoursome as this may trigger your nausea/sickness. Then eat every two to three hours to keep your blood sugar level. This doesn’t have to be a big meal, keep good small snacks with you to nibble on such as fruit, veg sticks and crackers. 

Continually sip on water, and keep a bottle with you. Staying hydrated will help your body to cope with the hormone surges and help settle your stomach. Try adding some apple cider vinegar to your water, or ginger and lemon, which further help to ease nausea. Stay away from fatty foods, and ensure meals are high in protein. If you are suffering badly from sickness and struggling to keep food down, then try sucking on fruit lollies, ginger or lemon slices.

Finally, there is some great research on vitamin B6. Studies suggest that taking vitamin B6 for morning sickness greatly improves nausea, though not vomiting, for many people who are pregnant. There has been no sign of harm to the fetus with vitamin B6 use. A typical dose of vitamin B6 for morning sickness is 10 mg to 25 mg, three times a day. 

Foods high in vitamin B6

The best sources are beef, poultry, salmon and tuna with the best fruits from bananas and avocados. Particularly if you are vegetarian or vegan, you could consider supplementation at safe levels. 

Foods rich in magnesium 

  • dark chocolate 
  • avocados 
  • nuts - almond, cashews and brazil 
  • lentils, beans, chickpeas, soybeans
  • leafy greens 
  • fatty fish 
  • tofu 

A special nod to ginger 

Where possible, it is best to start with natural remedies and there is plenty of research and many years of experience from pregnant women all over the world to provide us with the knowledge to effectively help.

Ginger root is a traditional remedy because it helps the gastrointestinal tract, as well as its impact on the brain signals that control vomiting reflexes. The respected journal 'Obstetrics and Gynecology' recommends 1g per day of fresh ginger over four days, as studies showed a significant reduction in symptoms in women with mild sickness and also those who suffer extreme sickness, known as hyperemesis gravidarum. 

Finally, ginger also contains zinc which has also been linked to relieving pregnancy sickness. 

Sneak some ginger into your day... 

  • grated over food 
  • ginger chews - low to no sugar content 
  • fresh ginger and lemon tea 
  • pickled ginger 
  • add to curries, spag bol and other meals 

Physical health 

It is really important to get plenty of rest, particularly during the first three months of pregnancy as your body is coping with all the hormone changes. If you do feel nausea and sickness, then resting will help your body adapt to the pregnancy. A warm bath with magnesium salts will help replace salts lost through vomit and help your body recover. In between rest (or work), it is really important to get some fresh air. As little as a ten-minute walk outside will help you feel better.

It is important to manage your stress during this time as well, and although there may be work and life stresses pre-existing, try to prioritise yourself and your growing baby, ensuring you are relaxing where you can, and getting support from family and friends. The body is strong and it does a magnificent job throughout your pregnancy, but remember to appreciate all the hard work it is doing and allow yourself some time to de-stress, whichever way you can. Ten-minute meditations and focused breathing exercises work wonders and can be done anywhere. 

Holistic therapies 

Acupuncture, homeopathy and massage are all helpful therapies that can ease pregnancy sickness symptoms.

Acupuncture can help to desensitise your response to food smells and triggers that can heighten nausea. In the journal 'Birth', 593 women were tested with acupuncture at less than 14 weeks pregnant with symptoms of pregnancy sickness. Significant results concluded that those in the acupuncture group had eased symptoms of nausea and dry retching. 

Acupuncture can also recommend herbal remedies and, along with homoeopathy, treatment should be sought from fully qualified professionals. 

Massage therapy will help to ease stress and anxiety which can exacerbate symptoms of sickness. Easing tension in the muscles can also help reduce nausea associated with pain and discomfort, helping you to feel better, sleep better and move better. It is important to give yourself time to rest and let the body settle from the surge of hormones, therefore setting yourself time to have a massage will help your body achieve this enabling you to cope with the changing hormones, and regulate blood sugar and circulation. 

If you're experiencing pregnancy sickness and you'd like to find out more about how holistic therapies, including massage, can help, feel free to get in touch and we can discuss the options available. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Therapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Northolt UB5 & Uxbridge UB8
Written by Laura Dalby, Portable Wellness Room Ltd
Northolt UB5 & Uxbridge UB8

I have a BSc in Injury rehabilitation, a level 5 diploma in sports massage and am qualified in acupuncture, cupping and pregnancy massage. I have seen the industry evolve over my 10 years practicing and would like to show you how soft tissue treatments can improve your body and mind.

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