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Pregnancy sickness: What’s the best dietary treatment

Pregnancy sickness is commonly known as morning sickness. However, the term morning sickness does not accurately describe the condition. Because the condition can occur during any time of the day. However, its more common in the morning. The morning sickness condition involves nausea and vomiting.

Pregnancy sickness is a common pregnant disorder. It occurs mainly during the the first trimester of pregnancy or early pregnancy. And in some cases it occurs throughout pregnancy. Whilst most of the times the condition is mild, in some cases the condition is severe. As a result, it can affect your daily life. Under normal conditions this condition dissappears after about 16 to 20 weeks.

Where does pregnancy sickness come from?

Pregnancy sickness is more common in the morning but it also occurs during day.
Morning sickness by Pixabay from Pexel Photos

So, lets start with the basic questions. Where  does pregnancy/morning sickness come from? Why does it occur and how?

Well! Let me just give a brief explanation of the basics.

Pregnancy sickness occurs when the body tries to adapt to the new pregnancy condition. The body undergoes a lot of physical changes to compensate for the nutritional needs of the foetus. As a result, changes occur in the digestive system. These include reduced bowel movement, reduced food transit time, reduced digestion speed and food absorption. The hormonal levels in your body will also change. And these lead to changes in the rythymic activities of the digestive system.

So, what do we do about this?

Well, unfortunately there is no single solution that works for all. This is because each pregnancy is unique and different. And also the pregnant people always have different genetics so they will be affected differently. The best available intervention is through dietary adjustment.

There are to forms of pregnancy sickness. These include the mild and the severe form.  Whilst mild morning sickness is said to be natural and favourable, the severe one can be a nightmare.

The more severe form of pregnancy sickness is called hyperemesis gravidarum.

Extreme pregnancy sickness: hyperemesis gravidarum

This condition is a severe form of pregnancy sickness. It is usually harmful. Hyperemesis gravidarum results from severe nausea and vomiting. Extreme pregnancy sickness only affects a small number of pregnant women. And it has serious adverse health effects. If left untreated, hyperemia gravidarum can cause serious harm both to the foetus and the mother.

The severe nausea and vomiting can lead to fluid shortage in the body as well as malnutrition. And this  can lead to a lot of other adverse health effects.

Effects of hyperemesis gravidarum/ extreme morning sickness

Here are some of the negative effects that occur due to extreme morning sickness:

  • It can interfere with your liquid and food intake. This usually results in poor nutrition. And it also causes nutritional deficiencies in your body.
  • Extreme pregnancy sickness causes electrolyte and acid imbalances. This is not good for optimum health.
  • If it affects you, you can end up losing 5% of your pregnancy weight. And of course, this has many negative health effects.
  • Weight loss in pregnancy is due to malnutrition, and malnutrition can seriously damage the fetus.
  • Some of the defects that develops in the fetus are irreversible.
  • The excessive vomiting in severe pregnancy sickness results in ketonuria.
  • And it also results in vitamin and mineral deficiency.
  • This can negatively affect overall health and resistance to diseases.

More effects of excessive pregnancy sickness

  • Excess salivation is also a serious occurrence in hyperemesis gravidarum.
  • The condition can also impair the digestive system. This results in poor food digestion, absorption and ejestion. And this usually leads to malnutrition, even though adequate food is available.
  • Extreme pregnancy sickness can also cause liver dysfunction and acute kidney injury.
  • Wernicke’s encephalopathy and psychological distress are also some of the side effects.
  • Extreme morning sickness is also known to increase risks of cognitive, behavoural and  emotional disorders.
  • Sufferers have increased risks of post traumatic stress disorders and depression.
  • The condition also affects neurological and brain functions.
  • If unattended, it can lead to your hospitalisation.
  • Newer studies show that, hyperemesis can affect the health of the offspring. In their adulthood.
  • Low birth weight for children
  • Increased risks of preterm deaths
  • Fetal death
  • Giving birth to babies that are small for gestational age.

All this shows the dangers you will be in, if extreme pregnancy sickness is not attended to earlier.

Hypemeresis gravidarum can be prevented by preventative vitamin supplements. And also you can minimize the effects by effective electrolyte monitoring and correction.

Dietary treatment for pregnancy sickness

These dietary measures are the initial therapy to alleviate the discomforts caused by pregnancy sickness. They help reduce the negative effects of morning sickness. However, you should try several measures to see which works best for you. Why? Because each case of morning sickness is different from the other.

  • Take small quantities of food several times a day rather than less frequent large single meals.
  • Settle for bland tasting and low fat foods. Fatty foods stay in your stomach longer so they further delay gastric/bowel emptying.
  • You must also reduce cooking and eating spicy foods and seasonings. These may trigger nausea which leads to vomiting.
  • Eat protein rich foods that are low in carbohydrates. These are easier to digest and they reduce transit time through the gut.
  • Eat more fluid based foods because they can also improve irregular bowel movements (Gastric dysrrythmias).
  • Drink small volumes of liquids between meals. Also include beverages to boost your electrolytes. Eg. weak teas

NB. Never drink coffee!

Additional dietary treatment methods for morning sickness

  • If hot foods are triggering your nausea, eat cold foods. Make sure they are safely stored to prevent microbial spoilage and food poisoning.
  • Eat ginger, in food or even take it as a tea. Ginger is highly recommended because it reduces and treats nausea. It also helps treat gastric hypomotility (poor gastric movement).
  • Ginger contains compounds that enhance bowel movement. As a result they fuel bowel movements.
  • Ginger also prevents growth of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori in the digestive system. This bacteria is also responsible for pregnancy sickness and also ulcers.
  • Ginger, however, is not good for patients under anticoagulant medications since  it may also inhibit their functions.
  • Acupressure and acupuncture reduce nausea and vomiting and retching. They help in reducing the risks of pregnancy sickness.
  • Clinicians can use thiamine supplements. These improve maternal morbidity and Wernicke’s encephalopathy.

Please also check: 13 Healthy eating habits for your family

Conclusion

Pregnancy sickness also called morning sickness is a very uncomfortable condition that may affect your daily life. However, understanding these dietary measures can help you overcome these discomforts.

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