Q: I feel nauseated all the time now that I'm pregnant. Is this morning sickness? What can I do to feel better?
A: Morning sickness is most likely the cause of your nausea, but as you know all too well, the name is somewhat misleading since it can occur at any time and last all day. If it's any consolation, know that up to 80 percent of women feel nauseated at some point in their pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. Most experts believe that morning sickness is due to skyrocketing levels of the hormones estrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in early pregnancy. Even bouts of constipation (a common pregnancy complaint) can trigger nausea. The good news is that even though you feel lousy, morning sickness can be a sign that your baby is doing well, since it indicates increasing levels of important pregnancy hormones. (But on the flip side, some women get it worse than others, and a lack of morning sickness doesn't automatically mean that something is wrong with your baby.) So what can you do about morning sickness?
- Eat small meals throughout the day, since going too long without eating can make symptoms worse. Keep a stash of saltines or pretzels with you to nosh on throughout the day when your stomach starts to feel empty. - Avoid spicy, fatty foods (and especially fast food). - Steer clear of odors that trigger nausea, like the aromas produced by cooking protein-rich foods such as red meat, chicken, and fish. (Got a coworker who's addicted to tuna sandwiches? Take a walk when she's eating lunch at her desk). - Try natural remedies like ginger candy (ginger has been a nausea remedy for centuries) or motion sickness bands, which isolate nausea-relieving pressure points in the wrists. You can also try carrying a tube of peppermint or lemon hand lotion and sniffing it when you feel a wave of nausea, since the fragrance has been found to settle the stomach.
Although you may feel totally sidelined by nausea, it's very likely that you'll feel better soon. Most women notice a big improvement in their symptoms between weeks 12 and 14, and even the most severe cases generally subside by week 20. Of course, if at any point you vomit blood, can't keep down fluids at all, or show signs of dehydration (like dark-colored urine, dizziness, or a pounding or racing heart) then give your doctor a call.