Following the news that The Duchess of Cambridge has been hospitalized due to severe morning sickness (otherwise known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum), we enlist the help of the UK’s leading women’s health expert and nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD and Russell Bowman, expert nutritionist at The Nutri Centre to shed light on this rare condition and give us their top tips on keeping morning sickness at bay
In the first three months of pregnancy, more than 90% of expectant mothers will suffer some level of morning sickness – which despite its name, doesn’t occur only in the morning.
So what are the causes?
‘Morning sickness is due to the changes in the female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone which women experience early in pregnancy’, Russell Bouwman, Nutritionist, The Nutri Centre.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of morning sickness don’t just include nauseas and sickness. Marilyn says ‘Symptoms can include cramps, heart-burn, cravings, intense hunger, a metallic taste in your mouth and feeling of weakness and tiredness. Morning sickness may also be related to the increased sensitivity to odours that pregnant women experience, which can trigger nausea. Unfortunately this is all just part of being pregnant, and your doctor won’t be able to prescribe you anything to relieve the symptoms, which are usually confined to the first trimester of pregnancy. But its not all bad news, according to a study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the USA, women who vomit during pregnancy are more likely to carry all the way to term and deliver healthier babies’
The Royal Sickness
Kate Middleton is suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, an acute and potentially dangerous form of morning sickness. For most women, the symptoms of morning sickness are mild to moderate but for an unlucky few, (on average 1 in 50 expectant mothers), morning sickness occurs in its most severe form. ‘If you suffer from this condition, you may vomit so much that you are unable to keep any food or drink down and hospitalization may be necessary in order to be intravenously fed fluids. This condition can also be dangerous for you and your baby, so if you’re vomiting so much that you can’t eat or drink, it’s essential that you consult your doctor immediately’ warns Marilyn.
Mother Nature to the Rescue -
9 natural remedies to help you achieve a morning sickness-free 9 months
Apple Cider Vinegar – ‘Apple cider vinegar is pH neutral, so it can help settle the stomach acid which causes nausea. Add 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar to a cup of warm water first thing in the morning to help keep nausea at bay’ advises Marilyn. Try Higher Nature’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, £6.50 from www.nutrientre.com.
Almonds – ‘Almonds are a great source of protein and calcium, both of which can settle your stomach.’ Take Marilyn’s sickness-busting tip and soak 10 almonds (unroasted) over-night, peel off the skins in the morning before eating.
Water – drinking water is essential to compensate for the fluids lost during vomiting. Marilyn suggests you ‘keep a pint of mineral water by your bed with the juice of half a lemon and a pinch of salt. The lemon juice makes the water more alkaline and this seems to settle he stomach.’
Vitamin B6 – Some experts believe morning sickness is caused by high levels of oestrogen in the system. Marilyn explains ‘oestrogen can build up when the liver isn’t efficiently flushing away the excess. ‘Vitamin B6 can help clear away excess toxins by optimising liver function.’ BioCare’s Vitamin B6 is a water soluble B vitamin which is yeast free and suitable for vegans. Biocare’s Vitamin B6 is £8.80 for a 2 months supply and is available from www.biocare.co.uk.
Ginger – Ginger supplements have been proven to ease nausea by helping food to pass more rapidly through the digestive system, as well as reducing the stimulation to the part of the brain that prompts a burst of nausea or vomiting. Russell says ‘Ginger can be helpful in preventing nausea and morning sickness, and research suggests that it can be effective. Ginger contains many active ingredients including phenols, which can improve gastroduodenal motility and reduce the sensations that cause nausea’. Ginger can affect certain heart and blood medications, so speak to your GP if you are taking these’. Russell recommends:
Ginger People’s Ginger Chews Original, £1.55 from www.nutricentre.com. Containing fresh ginger this is a handy remedy to keep in your handbag on the go or by your bed ready to take first thing in the morning.
BioCare’s Gingerdophilus (Ginger and Probiotic Combination), £20.40 for a months supply from www.biocare.co.uk. This product combines powdered ginger with the benefit of probiotics, which can assist in digestive complaints as well as the nausea associated with morning sickness. 3 capsules provides 900mg of ginger which can be effective for short term use (4-5 days at a time).
Lemon therapy – ‘Lemon juice can help to relieve nausea, even by just inhaling its fragrance. Cut a lemon in half and rub the juice on your hands, then hold your hands to your face and take a deep breath whenever you feel nauseous.’ advises Marilyn. To replenish fluids try Pukka’s Lemon Green Tea, a light blend of smooth green tea with a subtle twist of Sicilian lemon and fragrant lemon verbana. Available from www.pukkaherbs.com for £2.25
Homeopathy – Marilyn advises you take the most appropriate in a 30c potency, 4 times a day for 3 days:
Arsenicum – is best if you have a sense of constant nausea, some vomiting and if you feel exhausted or faint.
Ipecac – for morning sickness that isn’t relieved by either vomiting or stress
Nux vomica – if you feel nauseous, but better if you actually vomit
Sepia – if you feel constantly nauseous, but a little better if you eat little and often.
Acupressure - One study showed a 60% improvement in morning sickness in women who used acupressure. The acupressure point for nausea is at the base of your wrist, about 5cm fro the crease of your wrist on the inside of your rm. Press on this point for several seconds each time you feel nausea coming on. Alternatively you can buy acupressure bands to do this job for you.
Aromatherapy – Try putting a few drops each of rosewood and lavender essential oils onto a tissue or handkerchief and inhale during the day.
Russell Bouwman gives us his top tips on avoiding morning sickness
- Become a protein grazer – Eat small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day so your stomach is not too empty or too full at once. Research suggests that high-protein foods were more likely to ease symptoms.
- Snack attack – keep simple snacks such as ginger biscuits or crackers by your bed. When you first wake up, eat a small amount and then rest for a while longer before getting up. Snacking may also help you feel better if you wake up nauseated in the middle of the night.
- Take it slow – Getting up slowly in the morning, by sitting on the bed for a few minutes rather than jumping right up may also be helpful.
- Smell the roses, or not – Try to avoid foods and smells that trigger your nausea. Due to your heightened sense of smell, you may find that certain foods that you enjoyed before you fell pregnant may make you feel queasy now. If so, you could try sticking to more bland smelling or tasting foods for the short term.
Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD is the UK’s leading nutritionist specialising in women’s health. She is the author of 10 internationally bestselling books, including the recently re-launched Getting Pregnant Faster and The Natural Health Bible for Women. Marilyn practices in her clinics in Tunbridge Wells (Kent), St John’s Wood (London), Kensington (London) and Rathmines (Dublin). For more information on specific health problems see Dr Glenville’s website www.marilynglenville.com.