Morning sickness in pregnancy: Do we finally have a solution?
Meet Priya, a vibrant and energetic soon-to-be mom from Bangalore, navigating the rollercoaster ride of pregnancy. As she prepares breakfast, the aroma triggers an intense wave of nausea. Juggling between the kitchen and bouts of queasiness, Priya's typical day revolves around finding ways to cope with this discomfort. Like many pregnant women, Priya is in search of practical solutions beyond the usual advice.
For many expectant mothers like Priya, their normal day to day routine is often disrupted by the unwelcome companion of pregnancy: nausea. If you're nodding in agreement, you're not alone. Nausea during pregnancy, commonly known as morning sickness, can be a challenging ordeal. Let's explore some research-backed tips to help moms like Priya manage nausea effectively.
Understanding Nausea During Pregnancy:
Before we dive into solutions, it's essential to understand the underlying causes of nausea during pregnancy. Research suggests that hormonal changes, particularly the surge in human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), contribute to morning sickness. Additionally, heightened sensitivity to smells, an empty stomach, and stress can exacerbate nausea.
The latest research: Scientists finally pinpoint a possible cause of morning sickness!
Researchers in the United States, United Kingdom and SriLanka have managed to get a breakthrough to understand the possible cause of morning sickness and thus find a cure for it. In the research paper published on December 13,2023 in the journal The Nature, scientists have confirmed prior research that had pointed to the hormone, called GDF15. The researchers found that the amount of hormone circulating in a woman’s blood during pregnancy — as well as her exposure to it before pregnancy — drives the severity of her symptoms.
According to research 7 out of 10 women suffer from morning sickness and approximately 2% of these women experience a very severe condition called Hyperemesis gravidarum, which causes relentless vomiting and nausea throughout the entire pregnancy. The condition can lead to malnutrition, weight loss and dehydration. It also increases the risk of preterm birth and high blood pressure in the mother. While morning sickness is considered a “normal” part of pregnancy, women are expected to “cope”. But the effects of this are physical and psychological.
The researchers also found that the severity of morning sickness a woman experiences depends on her sensitivity to the hormone GDF15,a hormone produced in the placenta that increases substantially during pregnancy. The sensitivity depends on the exposure to the hormone prior to conception.
“We now have a clear view of what may cause this problem and a route for both treatment and prevention,” says study co-author Stephen O’Rahilly, a metabolism researcher at the University of Cambridge, UK.
“I’ve been working on this for 20 years and yet there are still reports of women dying from this and women being mistreated,” said Dr. Marlena Fejzo, a geneticist at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and a co-author of the new study.
Lowering GDF15 is one way to potentially address pregnancy sickness—and the present study provides the first human evidence that it is likely safe to do so. Another way to reduce symptoms involves exposing women to GDF15 prior to pregnancy, to “prime” or prepare them for elevated levels of the hormone once they become pregnant.
It may even be possible to prevent the condition. Women who are at risk, such as those who experienced severe nausea and vomiting during a previous pregnancy, could be exposed to low doses of the hormone before becoming pregnant.
While the trials for a cure are underway, this research has opened up a very promising hope for a cure for morning sickness that expectant moms find debilitating.
While we wait for the cure lets dive into some research backed home remedies to manage morning sickness effectively!
Ginger Power: Numerous studies highlight the effectiveness of ginger in alleviating nausea during pregnancy. You can try sipping on ginger tea or munching on ginger-flavoured snacks throughout the day. It's a natural remedy that has stood the test of time.
Acupressure Wristbands: Research indicates that acupressure wristbands can help manage nausea in pregnant women. These bands apply pressure to specific points on the wrist, providing relief without any side effects.
Vitamin B6 Supplementation: According to studies, vitamin B6 supplementation can be beneficial in reducing nausea during pregnancy. You should consult your gynaecologist to determine the appropriate dosage, ensuring a safe and effective solution.
Practical Solutions Beyond the Obvious:
1. Frequent, Small Meals:
While the advice to eat small, frequent meals is common, research underscores its importance. You can incorporate this by planning mini-meals rich in protein and complex carbohydrates, helping maintain stable blood sugar levels.
2. Mindful Breathing and Relaxation Techniques:
Stress can amplify nausea. Research supports the use of mindfulness and relaxation techniques to manage stress levels.
3. Aromatherapy with Citrus Scents:
Studies suggest that citrus scents can have a positive impact on nausea. Priya can experiment with citrus essential oils or scented candles to create a calming atmosphere at home.
4. Hydration with a twist:
Dehydration can worsen nausea but plain water can seem unappealing. Infuse water with slices of citrus fruits or a hint of mint to make hydration more palatable.
Here are 10 foods that fight morning sickness in pregnancy!
Jeera (Cumin) Water: Cumin seeds have digestive properties that can help alleviate nausea. Boil a teaspoon of cumin seeds in water, strain, and sip on the warm jeera water throughout the day.
Fennel Seeds (Saunf): Fennel seeds are known for their soothing effects on the digestive system. Chew on a teaspoon of fennel seeds after meals or infuse them in hot water for a refreshing drink.
Tulsi (Holy Basil) Tea: Holy basil has antiemetic properties that can help in reducing nausea. Make a calming tulsi tea by steeping fresh or dried tulsi leaves in hot water. Add a touch of honey for sweetness.
Amla (Indian Gooseberry) Juice: Rich in vitamin C, amla juice can provide relief from nausea. Mix amla juice with a bit of honey and consume it in the morning on an empty stomach.
Buttermilk with Mint: A classic Indian remedy, buttermilk with a dash of mint can help in calming the stomach. The probiotics in buttermilk aid digestion, while mint provides a refreshing flavor.
Coconut Water: Coconut water is not only hydrating but also gentle on the stomach. Sip on coconut water throughout the day to stay hydrated and alleviate nausea.
Ajwain (Carom Seeds) Chews: Ajwain has digestive and antiemetic properties. Chew on a few roasted ajwain seeds or mix them with a pinch of black salt for a quick remedy.
Curry Leaves: Curry leaves are known for their digestive benefits. Chew on a few fresh curry leaves or add them to your meals to combat nausea.
Cardamom Tea: Cardamom has a soothing effect on the stomach. Prepare a cup of cardamom tea by adding crushed cardamom pods to boiling tea. Strain and sip slowly for relief.
Citrus fruits: Researchers have found that sniffing lemon scented aromatherapy reduces nausea in pregnant women.You can include lemons and oranges in your diet. Lemon infused water, sucking on lemon/orange candy or even a dash of lemon juice on your salad works great!
Pregnancy is a unique journey, and managing nausea requires a personalized approach. For expecting moms like Priya, the key lies in combining research-backed remedies with practical solutions that suit their individual preferences. By understanding the science behind nausea and implementing these tips, moms can reclaim control of their day, making the beautiful journey of pregnancy more enjoyable.