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Experts Corner

Nutrition

Morning Sickness
By Mediconsult's Nutrition Services

Q. What can I do about morning sickness?

A. Nausea and vomiting is an unpleasant side effect of pregnancy. This nausea, or "morning sickness," occurs in two-thirds of all pregnancies with half of these experiencing vomiting as well. Despite its common name, morning sickness can occur at any time of the day. Nausea is usually limited to the early weeks of pregnancy, disappearing by 12-14 weeks after a woman's last menstral cycle. Researchers have developed theories about why it occurs, but to date no specific cause has been identified. Some suggested causes include hormonal changes and the stress and anxiety of becoming pregnant.

Although uncomfortable, most cases of morning sickness are easily treated with small dietary manipulation. The nausea experienced during pregnancy is one of the few that is relieved by having food in the stomach. Below are some tips to help you reduce nausea and vomiting by making changes in your diet.

Morning sickness infrequently affects the health of the fetus. If nausea and vomiting are persistent, severe, and prolonged, medical treatment may also be necessary. This condition, also known as hyperemesis gravidarum, can result in electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, and nutrient deficiencies which can affect your pregnancy. It is important to quickly report severe nausea or vomiting that affects your ability to eat to your physician.

Coping With Nausea
  • Eat and drink slowly.

  • Use smaller, more frequent meals eating every 2-3 hours.

  • Drink cool, clear beverages between meals, rather than with meals.

  • Eat dry, bland foods. (crackers, dry toast)

  • Avoid offensive foods which can include garlic, onion, acidic fruits and vegetables, and/or spicy foods.

  • Avoid fatty or fried foods as these are slow to digest and keep food in your stomach longer. This increases your chances of vomiting.

  • Minimize food odors by eating cold or low odor foods in well-ventilated areas.

  • Shorten food preparation time or have someone else prepare the food.

  • Caffeine-containing foods and beverages can speed up gastrointestinal motility. They contribute to dehydration and should be avoided.

  • Do not lie flat for at least 2 hours after eating.

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