Top Tips for Coping with Morning Sickness

Top Tips for Coping with Morning Sickness

Pregnancy is an exciting time and unfortunately for some the euphoria of the happy news can be halted when morning sickness rears its ugly head!

What is Morning Sickness?

Morning sickness is a very common pregnancy symptom and also a very misleading name, as it can occur at any time of the day or night!  but nausea and vomiting are more common in the morning due to the stomach being empty.

Although it is not fully understood, it is believed that the sickness or nausea is caused by hormonal changes that occur due to the implanting pregnancy; symptoms might start occurring at about 6 weeks and symptoms usually start to recede from about 12/14 weeks, although some can experience it for longer and for a small number of women it can continue throughout the pregnancy.

Although feeling nauseous and/or vomiting is miserable, it is thought to be a sign of a well established pregnancy.

Morning sickness won’t harm the baby, but if the sickness becomes severe then you need to get checked out by your Midwife or Doctor, to make sure you are not suffering Hyperemesis gravidarum, which is an uncommon condition which occurs in less that 1% of pregnancies, but can result in dehydration and malnutrition due to the excessive vomiting, and medical intervention may be necessary to replace lost fluids.

Here are some tips that can help you minimize the effects of morning sickness:-

1. Eat small, but frequent meals throughout the day – having an empty stomach can make the symptoms worse.

2. Eat a high protein meal or snack before bed, protein takes the longest to digest so you won’t wake up in the morning so empty.

3. Cut a lemon, place the wedges in a plastic bag and inhale the lemon scent as needed to help reduce nausea.

4. Try drinking ginger ale or ginger tea.

5. Other teas that can help is peppermint, spearmint or chamomile.

6. Wear “Sea Bands” all the time, these are motion sickness bands, with a plastic button pressing on acupressure point Pericardium 6.

7. Snacking on unsalted crackers on waking can stave off hunger in the morning, or get your partner to bring you breakfast in bed :).

8. Avoid fatty, rich and acidic foods.

9. Vitamin B6 supplements has helped some women, so make sure you taking a good prenatal vitamin tablet to make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals.

10. Get plenty of rest, stress and tiredness can make pregnancy sickness worse

11. Complementary therapies can help reduce symptoms, such as Acupuncture and Reflexology.

Have you suffered from morning sickness? What helped reduce your symptoms?

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Cramp during Pregnancy

Hands up who has suffered cramp?

This is an often incredibly painful and annoying condition, and cramp during pregnancy is very common. It tends to start during the second trimester and can affect the buttocks, thighs, calf’s and feet.

Cramp attacks tend to occur without warning and usually during periods of rest/sleep or first thing in the morning.

cramp during pregnancy

The cause of cramp during pregnancy is unknown, but it is thought that it is either by the increased weight from the pregnancy causing the muscles to fatigue, thereby causing spasm and pain or the expanding uterus putting pressure on the nerves and the blood vessels that return blood from your lower body.

It is also a theory that calcium deficiency and electrolyte imbalance can be a factor of cramp, but there has been no proven science that this is the case.

So to be on the safe side make sure you eat a balanced diet including lots of whole grains and leafy vegetables to make sure you are not deficient.

Also avoid carbonated drinks as this may interfere with the absorption of electrolytes.

How to Prevent Leg Cramps

  • Massage is extremely beneficial for relaxing and reducing the tension in muscles that cause spasms and increases the circulation to tired muscles
  • Avoid standing and sitting for long periods of time as this causes pooling of the blood in the vessels in the calf’s
  • Gentle stretches taught at pregnancy yoga can be very beneficial, especially prior to bed
  • Calf stretches prior to bed to stretch out your muscles
  • Support stockings during the day maybe helpful for some

What to do if I get Cramp?

When a cramp attack arrives, gently raise your toes up towards you to stretch your calf muscle, or you can do this by using a towel behind your toes and gently stretch towards you and this should relieve the cramp, the pain may increase, but then should ease off.

After the pain has gone, gently massage the area to relax and soothe the muscle.

Seek Further Advice

If the pain does not relieve itself or if you get swelling, heat or redness in the area, please see your G.P. or Midwife immediately to rule out other underlying clotting problems.


Gestational Diabetes Mellitus

Gestational DiabetesGestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)

This usually develops during the 2nd trimester (usually from around weeks 24-28), but if found in the first trimester, this is usually because diabetes was un-diagnosed prior to pregnancy.

It can affect up to 4% of pregnancies and Gestational Diabetes usually arises because of lack of insulin to meet the extra needs of the pregnancy.

It is a manageable condition, where you will be referred to a dietitian who will advise you about what foods you should and shouldn’t eat to keep your blood sugars in check.  If they can not be controlled then you may need to take tablets or insulin injections to treat the diabetes.

Usually Gestational Diabetes will go after the baby is born, but you are more likely to get it with subsequent pregnancies and there is a 30% chance that you will develop Type 2 Diabetes later in life (general population is 10%).

Diagnosis is with a Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT), where it involves a blood test prior to breakfast after having fasted between 8 – 12 hours, then again 2 hours after a sweet glucose drink, to measure your blood glucose levels.

The results of a OGTT:

For people without diabetes: 

  • Fasting – Under 6mmol/L
  • After 2 Hours – Under 7.8mmol/L

People with Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT):

  • Fasting – 6.0mmol/L to 7.0mmol/L
  • After 2 hours – 7.9mmol/L – 11.0mmol/L

Diabetic levels:

  • Fasting – Over 7.0mmol/L
  • After 2 hours – over 11.0mmol/L

Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes:

Normally you will not notice any symptoms with gestational diabetes, this is why you will have a routine check at around 24-28 weeks of your pregnancy.  But occasionally you may notice some of the following:-

  • Increased thirst
  • Urinating more than normal
  • Increased tiredness

But these symptoms are also associated with pregnancy and will most probably not be caused by GDM, but if you notice them, please tell your Dr or Midwife, so they can arrange for you to be checked.

Complications of Gestational Diabetes:

When Gestational Diabetes is uncontrolled it can lead to the following:

  • Pre-Eclampsia
  • Premature labour – prior to 37 weeks
  • Increased baby weight – as the higher blood sugar levels may make the baby put on extra weight – which could make labour and birth more difficult or increase the chances of a Caesarean.

Causes of Gestational Diabetes:

  • Being overweight or obese increases your chances of GDM
  • Previously had GDM in other pregnancies
  • Family history of Diabetes
  • Have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Previously had a large baby over 4.5kg/9lb 15oz

Pregnancy and Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP)

What is Pelvic Girdle Pain?

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP), which used to be known as Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD).

PGP/SPD is a debilitating condition during pregnancy that causes pain, discomfort and mobility problems.

The Symphysis Pubis is the fibro-cartilaginous joint between the 2 pelvic bones at the front, but PGP can also be caused by instability with the sacroiliac joints at the back of the pelvis.

Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction
Source: http://www.piaaustralia.com/_what_is_pgp.html

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During pregnancy your body produces a hormone called Relaxin that softens the ligaments around the pelvis, which allows the baby to pass through the birth canal as easily as possible.

Unfortunately this can allow your ligaments to move too much causing the joints to become increasingly mobile which leads to the pelvis becoming unstable and “grind” together, causing pain and inflammation.

This may not present a problem to a lot of pregnant women, but for some the movement can be unbearable and treatment needs to be   to help ease the pain.

The symphysis pubis gap in a non-pregnant woman is 4-5mm, but can move 2-3mm in pregnancy. Symphysis diastasis is when the gap is more than 10mm wide and can be diagnosed by X-ray, MRI or ultrasound.

What causes SPD/PGP?

SPD/PGP is caused by a combination of hormone changes during pregnancy and body movement, plus the extra weight of the baby putting pressure on the pelvic bones.

Other risk factors that can increase your chances of getting symphysis pubis dysfunction is women who are hyper-flexible when non pregnant, also women that have over stretched the joint prior to pregnancy i.e. ballet dancer/gymnast’s etc.

Women with pre-existing pelvic injuries with uneven strain of the symphysis pubis can mean there is uneven pulling on each side.

Weak abdominal and/or pelvic floor muscles, possibly due to lack of movement in sedentary modern lifestyles i.e. sat at office desks and driving around rather than walking.

When can PGP/SPD occur?

PGP/SPD can occur any time in the pregnancy, during labour or postnatally.  In the first pregnancy it can appear from the 3rd trimester and usually starts earlier in subsequent pregnancies.

When it occurs in labour, it is usually because of being in stirrups for a long time.

What are the symptoms of PGP/SPD?

The main symptom of PGP/SPD is pain and this can be anywhere on the pelvic region either at the front with the symphysis pubis or the back along the sacro-iliac joints.

Pain can also be felt around the coccyx, one or both hips, lower abdomen, groin and inner thigh.

The types of pain that can be felt is either a bruised feeling, burning sensation, aching, sharp or simply heavy feelings of muscle fatigue.

The pain can be mild to severe, intermittent or constant chronic pain.

Other symptoms that can be associated with PGP is:-

  • Clicking or grinding
  • Bladder dysfunction
  • Waddling gait

Assessment of PGP

Assessment is usually based on pain and limitation of movement and the condition is referred to instability or dysfunction.

The signs are groin pain when:

  • Walking
  • Turning over in bed at night
  • Getting in and out of the car
  • After doing stretches or during doing stretches which involve abduction
  • Standing on one leg getting dressed/undressed
  • Lifting one leg at a time i.e. going up stairs
  • Weight bearing/lifting

Treatment

The treatment you receive will depend on the severity of your symptoms, but can include some or all of the following:-

  • Painkillers – prescribed by the GP
  • Physiotherapy – They will give you exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, give you advice on what you should avoid doing and information on how PGP might impact your labour.
  • Massage – help with relaxing and loosening up tight muscles around lower back, hips and thighs
  • Osteopath/Chiropractor – to help relieve symptoms – see a registered practitioner who is trained and experienced in working with pregnant women
  • Pelvic support belt – to give quick relief

Are there any self help tips?

  • Pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the muscles
  • Try not to move your legs apart, imagine you have a band around your legs keeping them together
  • Take care getting in and out of cars, beds and baths, move legs together
  • Rest to give your joints time to heal
  • But move little and often, you might not get the pain until later or when you have gone to bed
  • Go up steps slowly, one step at a time.
  • Know your limits, do not push through the pain!

Will having PGP/SPD affect my labour?

It does not stop you having a normal vaginal delivery, but having PGP/SPD will mean that your birth plan will need careful planning with your midwife or consultant, i.e. avoid stirrups if at all possible, giving birth in all fours position or the position that you find most comfortable.

Make sure everyone looking after you is aware that you have PGP/SPD, especially when it comes to examinations and the pushing phase so that you stay within your comfort level.

Any time you have pain, do not suffer in silence, get checked out by your Midwife or Consultant, as the quicker you get treatment the quicker you will be pain free!