Pregnancy is a wonderful gift and every woman deserves to enjoy the experience.
Unfortunately, nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, commonly called “morning sickness” despite the fact it can occur throughout the day, affects a large majority of pregnancies.
Up to 70 per cent of women report nausea and 30 to 50 per cent of women go through the dreaded experience of vomiting in the first thee to five months of pregnancy.
Although most cases are mild and resolve by the 20 week stage of a pregnancy, for some, it can last the entire nine months, which is clinically known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG).
HG is characterized by persistent nausea and vomiting that results in dehydration, ketosis, electrolyte imbalances and weight loss.
Morning sickness may be caused by the large hormonal shifts that occur during the first few months of pregnancy.
This includes increased estrogen, progesterone and thyroid hormone.
Estrogen can be 70 times higher and progesterone 10 times higher than pre-pregnancy levels.
These hormones may affect smooth muscles in the digestive tract, leading to nausea and vomiting.
Other potential causes include poor nutrition, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, low blood sugar and high levels of stress.
Stress can affect digestion and appetite because so much of the nervous system resides in the gut.
Pregnancy also heightens the senses which can increase the experience of stress.
Naturopathic medicine has many tools to help aid in the treatment of morning sickness including:
NDs can work with patients before they become pregnant to optimize fertility and promote healthy detoxification to reduce toxin loads.
Nutritional counselling to optimize nutrient intake and relieve nausea.
Specific vitamin and herbal supplementation to calm and nourish the digestive tract.
Acupuncture and vitamin injections to relieve stress as well as nausea and vomiting.
Helping patients develop effective relaxation techniques to promote stress reduction and manage fears.
Because it can often be difficult to keep down prenatal vitamins with even a little water during the first three months, I offer all my pregnant patients intramuscular vitamin injections to manage morning sickness.
This helps to ensure proper neural tube development for the growing baby.
Personally, I’m not sure I would have made it through my first four months of pregnancy, without getting weekly shots.
This is a good alternative if you have adverse feelings about taking prescription medications during pregnancy.
These medications (ie. Diclectin) at four pills a day, do not always prevent the symptoms and can be very expensive, $120 to $150 for a one month supply.
Other considerations for treating morning sickness inlcude ginger tea or 250mg ginger root powder in a capsule three to four times a day (avoid more than one gram per day); choosing the right prenatal as some prenatals may cause nausea; avoiding processed foods, fried foods and foods high in sugar; eating every two to three hours and eating protein with every meal.
Have a protein rich snack before going to bed and moderate exercise can also help.
Surround yourself with support during a pregnancy.
There are wonderful family doctors, naturopathic doctors, midwives, chiropractors, massage therapists and more to draw on.
We are all available and happy to assist you in having a healthy and enjoyable pregnancy.