Pregnant women probably have been experiencing the nausea and vomiting of morning sickness in early pregnancy for centuries.
Some of the time it is a relatively minor, though very uncomfortable, annoyance which does not inhibit the mother from eating,
and which causes no harm and resolves itself by the end of the first trimester. But there are times in which the nausea and
vomiting cause the mother so much distress that she is unable to get in enough food to stay healthy. And there are also some
times when the mother's nutrition is so compromised by the nausea and vomiting that even her life, her pregnancy, or her baby's
life is threatened. It is at these times that the midwife, doctor, doula, or prenatal class teacher must take aggressive
actions to help the mother stop the nausea and vomiting enough that she can get adequate food into her system to preserve
her health and that of her baby.
I also encourage these teachers, doulas, midwives, and doctors to pay close attention to any form of nausea
or other digestive disorders that their clients might experience, and to treat them aggressively with homeopathy, herbs, nutritional
adjustments, acupressure, acupuncture, hypnosis, or whatever resources are available. The lack of food that the mother experiences
during these times could be enough to throw her into the beginnings of a pre-eclampsia process.
The risk we undertake in ignoring a mother's morning sickness is that her inability to eat adequately will interfere with
one of the primary needs of every pregnant body--increasing the blood volume by 60% (and more than that for a multiple pregnancy).
This increase is needed because the maternal lake of blood behind the placenta needs to continue to grow as the placenta grows,
and because the placenta itself needs a growing supply of blood as it grows. Without this increase in blood volume, the mother
is at an increasing risk of shallow placental implantation, placental hypoxia, blood clots forming behind the placenta, rising
BPs, pathological edema, pre-eclampsia, HELLP, IUGR, premature labor, and of having a baby with a low birth weight.
One of the handicaps that all of these childbirth professionals are dealing with is that none of us can know from the outset
which of the mothers are going to have a mild form of morning sickness, which will not inhibit her ability to eat enough food
to remain healthy (i.e., continue growing her blood volume at a healthy rate), and which of the mothers will experience a
severe enough form of nausea to impair her ability to eat an adequate amount of food--a daily minimum of 2600 calories, salt
to taste, and 80-100 grams of protein, in addition to good amounts of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. So it behooves
all of us to treat all forms of nausea from the beginning of pregnancy with at least some of the following suggestions.
If you are a mother who is without adequate support from a childbirth educator, doula, midwife, or doctor, I encourage you
to try all of the following suggestions that you possibly can. In addition to alleviating your discomfort, the goal is to
try to keep your nutrition at an adequate level to keep your blood volume expanded in a healthy way, so that you can help
your body to avoid beginning a process which might evolve into a pre-eclampsia syndrome by the time your pregnancy is 20 weeks
May the following suggestions bring you much relief, as you work to preserve your health and your pregnancy, protecting your
body from the low blood volume which could trigger an early pre-eclampsia process.
There are several homeopathic remedies that can be helpful for morning sickness in pregnancy. These include Nux vomica, Pulsatilla,
Sepia, and Ipecac, depending on what kind of nausea and vomiting that you may have. You can see the following link for a
description of which kinds of morning sickness would fit with each remedy.
"Homeopathic medicines are safe for your growing baby because only a minute amount of the active ingredient is used in
their preparation(1). They work by stimulating the body’s own healing powers."
The above is quoted from the website for the Society of Homeopaths, and the page titled "Pregnancy and Childbirth",
which you can read through the following link.
See here for more information about some homeopathic remedies which can help in pregnancy
One of the possible causes of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is a B-Vitamin deficiency.
It's very easy to have a B-vitamin deficiency in pregnancy, according to Adelle Davis, nutritionist and author of Let's
Have Healthy Children, because the body's need for B-vitamins "increases immediately after conception" (Let's Have
Healthy Children, p. 45). Unfortunately, most prescription prenatal vitamins have very low levels of B-vitamins. Most
of them have less than 5 mg of most of the B-vitamins, while most pregnant women need 50-100 mg or more of the B-vitamins,
varying from B vitamin to B vitamin, and varying from woman to woman. For example, in order to help alleviate the nausea and
vomiting of pregnancy a pregnant woman is advised to take "10-25 mg of B6 every hour or two for a day or longer" (Let's
Have Heatlhy Children, p. 47). Taking extra B-vitamins can also help with insomnia, anemia, and hemorrhoids in pregnancy.
If you do decide to switch from your prescription prenatal vitamins to a health-food-store brand, the "Whole Foods" brand
of prenatal vitamins is one brand that contains more adequate levels of B-vitamins than the prescription brands do, in my
opinion. However, if you decide not to switch away from your prescription brand, you can still supplement your
prescription prenatal vitamin by taking that prescription multi-vitamin with breakfast, and adding a B-vitamin Complex supplement
Also, if you would like to add an extra B-Vitamin supplement with your lunch, be sure to find a brand of B-complex vitamin
which has all the B-vitamins in the proper balance. I suggest that you avoid the "B-25" or "B-50" or "B-100" vitamins, in
which all the B-vitamins are at the same level, since that is not a safe way to take B-vitamins. According to Adelle Davis,
the proper proportion of B-vitamins is as follows: "For every 3 mg of vitamin B1, there should also be 3 mg of vitamins B2
and B6; 18 mg of pantothenic acid, niacin amide and PABA; 600 mg of cholin and inositol, and 9-15 micrograms of vitamin B12
and biotin respectively." (Let's Have Healthy Children, p. 191)
In my opinion, one of the "Whole Foods" B-Complex preparations is apparently balanced in a fashion similar to Ms. Davis' description.
It should also be noted that it is important to not take either the multi-vitamin or the extra B-vitamins after 3 PM, because
the B-vitamins in them may interfere with sleep if taken at that time of day, while they can help alleviate nighttime insomnia,
if they are taken before 3 PM. However, if you are working on alleviating nausea and vomiting with extra B6 supplements, you
can try continuing to take the B6 by itself every hour or two after 3 pm, and see if your sleep is affected when you do that.
It seems to me that one of the biggest problems with the consumption of caffeine during pregnancy is that caffeine destroys
B-vitamins, which are essential vitamins in pregnancy. According to Adelle Davis, "Since the B vitamins dissolve in water,
they are readily lost in urine. The stimulating effect of coffee and caffeine-containing soft drinks causes them to be washed
through the body." (Let's Have Healthy Children, p. 98) She also says that a deficiency of Vitamin B6, one of the B-vitamins,
can cause or exacerbate nausea and vomiting, bad breath, headaches, dry, scaly skin, intestinal cramps, aches and cramping
in the legs (especially at night), nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, irritability, dandruff, difficulty concentrating, hemorrhoids,
anemia, and lowered resistance to infections. She found that all of these symptoms disappeared within 2 weeks of the volunteers
being given the level of B6 that they needed (Let's Have Healthy Children, p. 46).
The bottom line is that one of the main dangers of consuming caffeine--in coffee, tea, sodas, or chocolate--is in the fact
that caffeine destroys B-vitamins, which are important nutrients in pregnancy. So even if you have only 1 cup of coffee a
day, it can be destroying some of the B-vitamins that you're paying good money to put into your body, at the same time that
your body's need for more Bs has increased because of the pregnancy.
I recommend that you get a copy of Adelle Davis's book, Let's Have Healthy Children, from your local library,
or through inter-library loan, and find out more about B-vitamins in pregnancy. I also recommend that you consult with your
midwife regarding your questions about caffeine and B-vitamins.
The judicious and careful use of ginger can be a great help for morning sickness in pregnancy.
The trick about ginger is that too much of it might cause bleeding and miscarriage, although one of my pregnancy herb books
suggests that the mother can take up to 25 capsules of ginger a day safely.
One of the main causes of the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy is low blood sugar, but it quickly becomes a vicious cycle
when the nausea makes you feel unable to eat, and the lack of eating causes low blood sugar, which causes more nausea. So
the ginger should not be used as a cure by itself, but more as a way to break the vicious cycle so that you can get some food
in. The primary goal is to get some food in, and the ultimate result will be the lessening of the nausea/vomiting.
I often suggest that mothers buy some Jamaican ginger beer. It is a very strong, non-alcoholic form of ginger
ale, and it has real ginger in it, rather than just ginger flavoring, which is what you find in most of the common ginger
ales. It is often found in the "International" or "World Market" section of the grocery store. For morning
sickness, I suggest that you take a couple of swallows, or something like 1/8 to 1/4 cup of the ginger beer about 2-5 min
before you try to eat anything. That should settle your stomach enough for you to be able to get some food down. If you
want, you could also try taking a small sip or two of the ginger beer after eating, as well.
I suggest that with the help of the ginger beer you eat something every hour, including a snack at bedtime, and a snack at
your bedside table for whenever you wake up during the night. You could start with whatever food might appeal to you, in
very small amounts. If you can't think of anything that might go down well, I suggest that you start with baked potato (as
much of the potato as you can take)--plain, with some salt, but with no butter or sour cream or anything else on it. If you
can tolerate it, another thing you could try would be peanut butter (or some other nut butter, like almond) on whole grain
toast (with no cow's butter), with possibly a little honey.
This strategy should also be used in conjunction with the B-vitamin supplementation, since a large part of the nausea/vomiting
comes from the B-vitamin deficiency as well. Adelle Davis suggests that once the vomiting has started the mother needs to
take 10-25 mg of B6 every hour until the nausea subsides. So if the mother finds that the ginger beer is helping enough for
her to get some food down every hour, then she could also add 10 mg of B6 with that hourly food, and if that stays down, she
could up that dose to 25 mg with that hourly food.
If you can't get this Jamaican ginger beer in your area, then can you can use ginger capsules. For capsule use you could
try taking 1/2 to 1 capsule of ginger about 2-5 min before each hourly dose of food, taking care to not use more than 25 capsules
of ginger a day.
The following is quoted from "Acupuncture fights morning sickness", on the BBC News, Health, Thursday, 28 February,
2002, 10:25 GMT.
"Acupuncture Fights Morning Sickness"
Acupuncture helps relieve morning sickness for pregnant women, a study shows....
"Our results have shown that as little as one acupuncture treatment can significantly change the way these women feel," said
research co-ordinator Dr Caroline Smith.
The study involved nearly 600 women who were less than 14 weeks pregnant with symptoms of nausea or vomiting.
They were given weekly 20-minute sessions of acupuncture for four weeks.
About 50-80% of all pregnant women experience nausea or vomiting in early pregnancy, which can be severely debilitating.
Dr Smith, from the Women's and Children's Hospital and Adelaide University said: "We found that traditional acupuncture reduced
nausea throughout the trial with dry retching being reduced from the second week.
"Women now have an additional option to manage their morning sickness".
The following is quoted from the website "Hypnobirthing with Persephone: Sharing the Secret of Blissful Birth".
Hypnosis for hyperemesis gravidarum and morning sickness
Simon & Schwartz (1999) recommend the use of hypnosis in cases of both morning sickness leading to a more comfortable pregnancy
and healthier foetus as well as preventing full-blown hyperemesis gravidarum.
See the following books for more information about the use of herbs and other ideas for morning sickness. You can find these
books in your local library, or through inter-library loan, or through Amazon.com....
The following is the one official Brewer suggestion on this page. It is a portion of "Chapter 1", reprinted from Eating
for Two, by Isaac Cronin and Gail Sforza Brewer, 1983.
"The Complete Pregnancy Diet: Meeting Your Special Needs", by Gail Sforza Brewer (p.1)
Agnes Higgins, past president of the Canadian Dietetic Society and director of the Montreal Diet Dispensary [as of 1983],
has developed a procedure for estimating calorie and protein requirements in excess of the pregnancy levels we've already
established as a baseline. She emphasizes that any of the following factors increases a mother's nutritional needs:
As a corrective allowance, Mrs. Higgins and her staff counsel mothers to add twenty grams of protein and two hundred
calories to their basic daily pregnancy diets for each condition listed above (an individual mother
may be experiencing more than one of these stress conditions).
See here for information on ways to adapt the Brewer Diet to fit the unique needs of your pregnancy and your lifestyle