Have you tried eating a ginger biscuit?

Before I got pregnant, I had no idea of how awful ‘morning’ sickness can be. I was about 8 weeks pregnant with my eldest, when the nausea hit… hard! It floored me. Completely. One day I started feeling queasy, the next day I was lying in bed and just turning my head would make me (want to) throw up. I was nauseous every single minute of the day and night. Being sick would give me a couple of minutes’ relief. Then the nausea was back. I felt miserable, fed up and lonely. Very different to how I imagined pregnancy to be… I was really lucky to not end up in hospital and by around 22 weeks the nausea started to ease. A couple of weeks later it was gone completely.

I know people meant well, but the question “Have you tried eating a ginger biscuit?” would make me want to punch someone in the face. (I’m not a violent person otherwise!) Yes. I tried eating a ginger biscuit. It made me throw up. In fact, any type of food or any drink other than water, made me nauseous and sick.

If you are suffering from sickness in pregnancy, my heart goes out to you! I understand what you’re going through – it’s awful and it might seem never ending. I will share with you ideas and tips (which hopefully you’ll find useful) and I will discuss how hypnobirthing can actually help with nausea too. Don’t worry – I won’t mention a certain type of biscuits. (although for some women ginger might actually help!)

Almost 90% of women experience some sort of sickness or nausea in their pregnancy. For most women however, this goes away after the first trimester. Sometimes, unfortunately it lasts longer and occasionally can persist until birth. A very extreme type of morning sickness is Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Our poor Duchess of Cambridge, Kate, suffered from this awful condition during her pregnancies. It isn’t exactly clear what causes morning sickness, but the following are commonly believed to have an influence on sickness in pregnancy: - tiredness - an increased production of the pregnancy hormone hCG, produced by the planceta, during the first trimester. This leads some people to believe that morning sickness is a sign of a ‘healthy pregnancy’ with a well-functioning placenta.

- lack of vitamin B6

- having twins or triplets

So what can you do to help alleviate the nausea and sickness? As with most things in life, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach. I would often get my hopes up, trying something new like Sea sickness armbands, to then feel massively disappointed when they didn’t work. But I know some friends who swear by them, so I’m afraid it really is a case of trying things out until you find something that works for you.

My top tips:

- Rest up as much as you can. Tiredness can make the nausea worse. Don’t feel guilty about not being able to do everything you normally do. Prioritize!! Whatever isn’t crucial, can wait. I know it can seem impossible to get some rest if you’ve got older children running around. All I can say is… don’t feel bad about letting them watch (a lot of!) TV!

- Accept help! It’s not always easy to accept or ask for help (we don’t want to inconvenience others, we feel ‘weak’ not being able to do every day things, etc.) It’s also trickier to rely on other people with everything going on in the world at the moment. (I’m looking at you, Corona-virus!)

- Don’t worry about eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. What matters is that you keep something down. One of the only things I could somewhat stomach during my pregnancy with my youngest, were chicken nuggets. (I would never eat chicken nuggets before that) If all you want is a dry cracker or a slice of toast… go for it! Some believe that foods that are high in protein cause less nausea than carb heavy foods, but again this differs from person to person.

- Drink lots of water. If even having a glass of water makes you sick, try having a sip every half an hour or so. Little and often will go a long way.

- Carbonated drinks like ginger ale, coke or lemonade might bring you some relief.

- Have a pack of dry crackers or biscuits next to your bed. I found that going a whole night without food made me a lot worse. So whenever I would wake up in the night to go to the toilet (another lovely pregnancy symptom) I would try and eat a biscuit. When you wake up in the morning, have a cracker before you get up.

- Open the windows and let in the fresh air.

- Certain smells like peppermint, lemons and yes, ginger, can help with queasiness.

- Acupressure bands, aka sea sickness band, are bands that put pressure on certain areas of the body. They are said to help relieve sickness and nausea.

There are also alternative therapies that some women find helpful, but as I mentioned before, it all comes down to a bit of trial and error… and luck! Reflexology, acupuncture and acupressure can be helpful in easing the nausea or even tiredness. I myself tried reflexology and it was incredibly calming and relaxing. Even if it doesn’t help with sickness, you could still enjoy the relaxation. Make sure that you research your options and find someone who is qualified and insured for treating pregnant women.

How can hypnobirthing help with morning sickness?

You might recall a recent podcast ‘Happy Mum, Happy baby’ where the Duchess of Cambridge described how she used hypnobirthing to help her cope with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. She talked about hypnobirthing helped her realise the power of the mind, and how it helped her during pregnancy and with giving birth.

Hypnobirthing is all about deep relaxation – a relaxed body will birth a baby more easily as the muscles are able to do what their supposed to do, without resistance. This state of deep relaxation, similar to daydreaming, means the mind will accept positive suggestions (e.g.: your body can do this, trusting your instincts) far more easily. You are able to change your thinking and go from anxious and scared to confident and excited. These positive suggestions come in the form of relaxation scripts, which you just listen to. Pretty easy, isn’t it? There are specific relaxation scripts that are aimed at morning sickness. And listening to them can really help with: - Feeling less nauseated by smells and the sight of certain foods - Increase your water intake - Better quality of sleep - positive influence on the digestive system, which can help reduce nausea.

On top of listening to the guided relaxations, it’s also worth practicing specific breathing techniques. By focusing on your breathing, you’re (trying) not to think about the sickness. That in itself can sometimes bring relief. One of the breathing techniques that I teach my clients specifically for morning sickness is the following: Get as comfortable as you can and close your eyes. Turn your attention to your breath. Don’t change your breathing, just tune in to how you’re breathing. Take a few deep breaths in, and out. Inhale through the nose for 4, then exhale slowly through pursed lips for 6. Repeat this for as long as you want. Doing this in the open air, always feels even more beneficial to me. Luckily my morning sickness days are over, but I still get car sick at times. I always turn to this breathing when it gets bad and although it doesn’t always help, more often than not it helps the nausea to settle a bit. Enough for me to not be sick!

If you’re struggling with morning sickness or even Hyperimeses Gravidarum, and you are feeling lonely or would like to speak to someone who has experienced something similar… do get in touch! I’m always here to offer support and a listening ear. And remember that although this is a horrible, horrible thing to go through, it WILL end. If you're looking for hypnobirthing classes in Melksham, Chippenham, Trowbridge or the surrounding areas, get in touch! I'd love to hear from you.

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