There’s no sure-fire way to prevent morning sickness, but these tips from doctors and mums will help you feel better.
1 / 9Load more
2 / 9 Keep eatingLoad more
You might find it hard to stomach this fact, but food is your friend. Don’t let your tummy go empty, as it can set off nausea. Instead of three square meals, Dr Tan Wee Khin, obstetrician and gynaecologist at WC Cheng and Associates at Thomson Medical Centre, recommends eating five to seven small meals throughout the day.
Avoid going hungry, especially in the morning, says Dr Ben Choey, specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology at SBCC Women’s Clinic (Clementi). Keep some biscuits by your bed so you can nibble on them before you get up. Or get a family member to make you a cereal drink to stabilise your blood sugar. When you’re out and about, keep a stash of snacks with you at all times to stave off hunger pangs.
When you find a food that works for you, don’t be surprised if you want it all the time. Stay-home mum Sangeetha Gardiner craved the Vietnamese noodle soup, pho, early in her pregnancy, but by the 16th week, it was nasi lemak with sambal ikan bilis, she says.
Julie Tan, founder of a human resources services company, recalls taking food notes when she was pregnant. She would pen down which foods made her feel worse, so she could avoid them.
3 / 9 Stay hydratedLoad more
The gulping motion of drinking might get your gag reflex going, but it’s important to take in lots of fluids, especially in our hot climate. Dehydration can affect you and your baby’s health.
Dr Tan says you should aim for eight glasses every day – and it doesn’t just have to be water. Milk, juices and soup can count towards your fluid intake. (But make sure not to drink milk within three hours of taking your prenatal pills. This interferes with your body’s ability to absorb iron, an important mineral during pregnancy, adds Dr Tan.)
Lisa Chiang, a stay-home mum, preferred freshly pressed juices and coconut water.
Stay-home mum Judy Chin found that cola drinks helped settle the stomach while pregnant with her two boys, now three years old and two months. While carbonated drinks do provide temporary relief to nausea, Dr Choey cautions: “These are high in calories and sugar, and lack nutritional value.” Take them in moderation.
(Also read: C-section: How many can a mum safely have?)
4 / 9 GingerLoad more
This has long been used to aid digestion and soothe an upset stomach. Many expectant women swear by it and have found relief from snacking on ginger sweets and pickled ginger.
Or try making your own ginger tea: Boil four to six slices of fresh ginger in two cups of water for 10 minutes. Remove slices and add honey to taste.
(Also read: What should you eat just before giving birth?)
5 / 9 Seasickness bandsLoad more
If you normally suffer from motion sickness, then seasickness bands (or anti-nausea bands) are probably familiar to you. They are acupressure bands with plastic studs fitted on the inside that you wear around your wrist. Some pregnant women, like Sangeetha, find that they provide a cost-effective and drug-free way to help ease nausea. “I will probably have permanent indentations in my arms at the end of the pregnancy,” she jokes, “but they continue to work.”
You can get them at any pharmacy and they don’t require a prescription. Unfortunately, they don’t come in an array of colours; most of them are dull blue or grey.
(Also read: Dizziness during pregnancy: What to do)
6 / 9 Take a napLoad more
Don’t underestimate the importance of rest. Listen to your body. Liza Price, a stay-home mum, shares: “I found that if I did not rest when I was tired, it would trigger my nausea and I was more likely to vomit.”
Stay-home mums should catch up on much needed R&R while their children nap, if possible. The housework can wait, especially during the first trimester. If you’re a working mum, make the most of your lunch break. It’s important that you take time to rejuvenate. If you usually run errands during this time, pick a day or two to do them, and use the others to relax so that you can face the afternoon without being overtired.
7 / 9 Sniff a fresh scentLoad more
Morning sickness usually starts six weeks into pregnancy. Also around this time, your sense of smell heightens and that can bring on queasiness.
“Air fresheners in taxis would make me nauseous,” remembers Liza.
When you can’t escape from the whiff, Dr Choey suggests sniffing a fresh lemon – just carry a wedge in a plastic bag at all times. You can also carry a bottle of citrus scent to mask the offending smell.
8 / 9 Traditional Chinese MedicineLoad more
Like their Western counterparts, TCM practitioners believe that morning sickness is caused by pregnancy hormonal changes. As senior physician Zhong Xi Ming, who practises at Eu Yan Sang TCM Centre for Reproductive Health at Paragon, puts it: “There is a disharmony in the yin and yang in the body.”
Herbs can help alleviate the condition. Usually, they are prescribed to calm the liver, spleen and stomach, says senior physician Zhong. It depends on the individual’s constitution and there isn’t one formula or prescription that can help all.
While acupuncture can also be used to aid in alleviating morning sickness, usually traditional Chinese herbal prescriptions will do the job. “Sometimes, it’s easiest to just stay away from the things that make you nauseous and giddy,” she says.
(Also read: Ginseng during pregnancy: What you should know)
9 / 9 MedicineLoad more
Many mums want to stay away from medicine during pregnancy, but there are some circumstances where medication is the only way to maintain some semblance of a normal lifestyle.
Sangeetha, who was diagnosed with severe morning sickness (hyperemesis gravidarum) and hospitalised due to dehydration, says: “I was scared at first when the doctor recommended medication to help me retain food and drink, but I was more worried about what dehydration would do to my baby.”
Talk with your doctor if you find that you’re unable to retain food or drink, or if you can’t carry on with your days normally. Ask him about vitamin B6, which is known for its anti-nausea properties. Take only medication approved by your doctor.