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Nausea is a common complaint in pregnancy. More commonly known as ‘morning sickness’, nausea, vomiting, lethargy and tiredness can clear up by the end of the first trimester, or for some women, may persist throughout the entire pregnancy.
More rarely, severe vomiting that does not stop, a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) requires urgent medical attention and affects about 0.5% – 2% of Australian women during pregnancy.
Although the causes of nausea in pregnancy are not yet known, the following have been suggested as contributory factors:
- low blood sugar,
- low blood pressure,
- hormonal changes,
- emotional ambivalence about the pregnancy,
- food deficiency (in particular of vitamin B6 and iron),
- an excess of refined, spicy, or greasy foods,
- and pressure on the stomach from the growing uterus in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
Research has uncovered another possible cause of morning sickness: genetics.
Dr. Marlena Fejzo of the University of Southern California-Los Angeles, author of this interesting study explains that women were more likely to experience a serious form of morning sickness if their mothers or sisters did as well. Specifically, HG was studied and it was discovered that women with sisters who had the condition were 17 times more likely to also develop it. HG causes unrelenting, excessive nausea and vomiting that puts the pregnant woman at risk of malnutrition, dehydration and significant weight loss.
Dr. Fejzo explained “the degree of heredity is very exciting because it suggests genes are involved, and when we find those genes, we may finally understand the cause of severe nausea in pregnancy and be able to make new treatments that are designed to treat the cause rather than the symptoms.“
The level of nausea in pregnancy also incorporates non-genetic factors, such as carrying a female or multiple foetuses, according to some studies.
Naturopathic treatment of morning sickness aims to alleviate nausea and discomfort by correcting nutritional imbalance and supporting the expectant mother with a herbal, homeopathic or nutritional treatment specific to her case.
Some natural tips to help avoid and treat morning sickness are:
- Homeopathy, according to individual symptoms, however common remedies include Nux vomica or Ipecacuana
- Acupuncture and cranial osteopathy
- Deep breathing, meditation and yoga
- Eating protein with every meal and snack and keeping a protein-rich snack on hand to maintain blood sugar levels. Eating small regular meals helps to maintain blood sugar levels
- Raw almonds and almond milk contain some fat, some protein, and are high in B vitamins and can be eaten between meals
- An infusion of grated ginger root may bring relief while you are feeling nauseous
- Keeping foods such as crackers or almonds by your bed to eat during the night or first thing in the morning
- Increase the iron-rich foods in your diet, such as beef, sardines, eggs, dried fruit and green leafy vegetables
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