When you ask women about their pregnancy related experiences, most of them say that while they were happy and excited on being pregnant, certain health related issues kept them from enjoying that time to the fullest and made their lives difficult. Feeling sick in the initial days of pregnancy is very common and even normal. It can be attributed to a lot of physical as well as emotional changes a person goes through during that time. Getting tired easily, feeling sleepy at odd hours, mood swings, being unable to stand for a long time, queasiness, craving for specific foods, heartburn and constipation etc are few things which can disrupt a pregnant woman’s normal life and routine.
Nausea or morning sickness in pregnancy is one such issue which more than 50% of pregnant women face. It may vary from person to person. It is usually experienced by most of the people in their first trimester and vanishes after that but for some it may stretch till end. Its severity and time of the day when one experiences it may also be different from case to case basis. While vomiting during pregnancy and especially during initial days is considered normal, severe nausea may lead to dehydration, low blood sugar and low BP which is not good. Besides this long no eating and drinking spells due to nausea during pregnancy may lead to a weak baby with a low birth weight. I clearly remember that in my case it was prolonged till end, was severe in my 2nd trimester and at one point of time I had to be hospitalised for a drip treatment due to this. Thus, I have tried to enlist a few tips and tricks which can help expectant mothers to cope better in this condition.
Rest: Taking ample amount of rest is recommended not only at the onset but also during the whole duration of pregnancy and the good part is that it also helps in relieving nausea. Mornings are usually a busy time for most of us and we have several chores to finish but if you always feel giddy just after getting up, delay your time of getting up by say 15 minutes to half an hour. Get up slowly and instead of rushing for work, take a deep breath and try to go in fresh air for 5 minutes. Close your eyes and give yourself 5-10 minutes to get up, breathe and stretch a little. Also if mornings are not the time when you feel nauseated, and it happens during afternoons or evening time when you are at office or at home working on something, just leave everything, sit back, close your eyes and try to smell something which relieves you. There will be times when you will puke for sure but that’s normal. Initially it will be difficult but in a few days time you will be able to recognize a pattern in how nausea affects you. Learning to change your routine and getting adjusted to it by keeping things that relieve you handy will help so don’t worry too much.
Smells: It is really interesting that pregnancy related nausea is linked with certain smells. Some of them make your stomach churn while others give you a lot of relief. I remember one incidence from my time wherein I had cooked beans for dinner, but once the dish was ready I couldn’t bear the smell and had thrown up. According to many people the smell of normal Indian tadka, chapattis, a certain vegetable etc made them feel giddy whereas smelling citrus fruits, or a particular soap relieved them. Staying away from smells that aggravate your condition and being near to smells that relieve you is the best way out. I always tried keeping things which gave me relief handy at my home and office and even kept a few things in my purse to avoid discomfort while travelling. I remember that during my pregnancy, I had discontinued using every strong smelling thing which I earlier used like a perfume or incense sticks at home and had replaced them with something that was soothing to my nerves.
Food & water Intake: Little and often is the key word as far as food and water intake during this time is concerned. In this condition one may not be able to drink 8 glasses of water a day but taking little water at regular intervals will save you from getting dehydrated. Not consuming water is not the solution as it may be harmful for both the expectant mother and her baby. One has to keep in mind that our body needs a minimum amount of water for activities like digestion, maintaining the amniotic fluid, proper urination( to avoid a risk of any urinary tract infection which is common in early pregnancy) and even smooth bowel movements. If you don’t like drinking plain water, you can take other fluids like fresh juice, coconut water, lemonade prepared at home, chaas, hot or cold soup as per the season, ginger lemon tea (ginger is said to be good at this time) etc. Drinking too much tea or coffee (caffeine) should be avoided as it is harmful.
Food Intake: As far as food intake is concerned remaining empty stomach for long hours is not good. Low blood sugar levels may lead to a low BP condition and also aggravate your nausea. You may keep some whole wheat or multigrain biscuits, nuts, fruits etc or anything you like handy and even eating something before sleeping at night helps. It not only keeps your sugar level intact during night but also helps avoid nausea in the morning. Even if your next morning’s breakfast gets delayed due to vomiting it keeps you going. One must try and take small meals at frequent intervals during the day and avoid too much oily and spicy food. Though one feels like eating spicy and sour food a lot, one should always depend on home cooked meals as outside food may cause acidity, stomach infection or food poisoning which is very difficult to handle in this condition (you are pregnant and can’t be given antibiotics or heavy medicines). You eat what you are craving for but try to cook it or get it cooked at home. During this time a balanced diet including fruits (citrus fruits, seasonal fruits), carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and vitamins help. Even if you don’t like eating roti-sabji or rice, light dishes like dalia, poha, upma, curd rice, khichdi-dahi, bland items like toast without butter, a plain dosa etc can be consumed. One trick is to eat food which is not too hot so that the smell emanating from it doesn’t irk you. Sometimes it is also seen that though initial nausea has subsided after one or two trimesters, heartburn and acidity related issues crop up during the last trimester as the uterus size increases and pushes other organs including diaphragm and stomach which caused breathlessness, indigestion and related nausea. So, one must try and satisfy ones cravings but always keep the oil and spice content low in their diet.
Home Remedies: It is not scientifically proven anywhere but it is said that consuming ginger in some way helps reduce pregnancy related nausea. Including some ginger juice in your lemonade or green tea or lemon tea can help a lot. Also smelling some fruits like lemons and oranges give relief. As I had severe nausea, I grated lemon and orange skin for their rind and stored the contents in a bottle. I smelled it whenever I felt uneasy. I could also carry it to office and while travelling, and replaced the contents after 3-4 days to keep it fresh. My grandmother told me about a fantastic churan like powder which I licked sometimes and it kept me from puking. The method is to take juice of 6-7 lemons in a plate with edges and keep it in the sun for few days. It will reduce to solid powder like consistency. To this one can add some black salt, dry roasted powdered carom seeds, a pinch of aestofoedia, dry roasted cumin seed powder and a pinch of powdered pepper. This not only helped me in digestion after meals but also was sour enough to prevent me from puking. I also tried eating prunes (dried alubukhara) at this time as they are sour in taste and good for health. You can also carry them with you.
Last but not the least: There are a few other things one can try. It is said that acupressure can give relief but should be carried out in expert supervision. Also distracting oneself by listening to light music or reading something or walking in fresh air and being stress free helps. Severe nausea is sometimes caused due to magnesium or potassium related deficiencies so getting it checked and taking diet rich in these minerals can solve the issue.
Thus these were a few tips and tricks which I feel can help someone in need. Even after doing everything if at all you feel that your condition is prolonged and severe and is in some way affecting your health and your unborn child’s health it is best to take medical advice as there are safe medicines which when given can deal with the issue. In the end as I always say that becoming a mother is a life changing experience for a woman and pregnancy is just the beginning of a long journey. Taking good care of oneself since beginning is imperative to avoid many problems cropping up at later stages.
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