The lovely Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, is suffering from another bout of extreme morning sickness. Kate is dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), a condition that causes extreme nausea, vomiting, and weight loss and sometimes requires hospitalization. And yes, as you've probably read, it can be a sign that she and Prince William are expecting twins. Goodness, I can already picture her pushing a pristine navy double pram around London!
Women like Kate have it extra rough, but most of use do experience some form of morning sickness, especially during the first trimester. In fact, morning sickness can actually hit you any time of the day. It's caused by a surge in pregnancy hormones, several of which are on the rise during early pregnancy, including human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), cholecystokinin, estrogen, and progesterone. Levels of hCG start to increase as soon as you become pregnant—it's hCG that turns that pregnancy test pink or blue. It's necessary for getting the embryo to successfully implant in your uterus, and it's also what makes you have to pee every half hour.
Feeling green while you're at work can be extremely tough to hide, which is a challenge for moms-to-be who aren't ready to share their news yet. Remember to eat breakfast (morning sickness is worse on an empty stomach), and eat small, regular meals.
When the queasies do strike, here are my tips for dealing with them. I tested them during my own two pregnancies and shared them with readers in my nutrition guidebook for pregnant moms, Feed the Belly. If you're out there and suffering through those first few months, I hope some of these ideas might help you!
I always kept containers of the following items in my purse and gym bag to keep nausea at bay:
• Reed's Ginger Beer. You might also try popsicles made from ginger beer.
• Saltines. Barbara's makes Wheatines, which are whole grain and low sodium.
• Graham crackers.
• Dry cereal.
• Low-sodium seltzer water with lemon juice.
• Gin-Gins. These great little hard ginger candies from the Ginger People are fantastic because they're individually wrapped.
• Pretzels. I'm a huge fan of Snyder's Snaps.
• Brown rice.
• Tapioca or rice pudding. Kozy Shack makes a nice all-natural one.
• Applesauce (go organic).
• Preggie Pops and Preggie Pop Drops. These lollipops and candies are made with small amounts of essential oils including mint, lavender, ginger, lime, etc. Many women say they work like a charm.
• Lemons. Suck on a lemon slice, drink some lemonade, or even give fresh lemons a sniff. This citrus fruit seems to help in many ways.
Sometimes that yucky feeling can't be alleviated by all the ginger in the world. It's likely that you will get sick at some point, so keep these items on hand for a quick recovery:
• Mouthwash. Let's face it: It helps get rid of that post-puke taste.
• Bottle of water.
• Sugar-free gum.
• Sachets and wipes. Taking a whiff of a pleasant smelling herb sachet (filled with rosemary, lavender or mint) can help bring relief. I'm also a big fan of individually wrapped wipes from Herban Essentials-they come in lavender, lemon and peppermint. All are great for freshening up and masking unpleasant smells. They're especially handy on subways, trains, and buses, where stinky air often lurks. They saved me on many steamy, gross days on the New York City Subway and in taxi cabs that reeked from cologne mixed with onion. Eww.
• Ziplock baggies. When there's no place else to turn, these are a lifesaver.
What else can help?
A study by the Center for Complementary and Alternative Health Medicine in Women's Health at Columbia University found that acupressure, ginger, and vitamin B6 were the only alternative methods that helped alleviate nausea and vomiting. Always check with your doctor before taking supplements. Your prenatal vitamin should have enough vitamin B6 in it already.
Also, make sure to stay hydrated—even when the thought of drinking water makes you want to heave. To rehydrate, try something like Pedialyte, diluted fruit juice, or water with added electrolytes, such as SmartWater, which help you hydrate faster. Eating foods rich in potassium, like bananas, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and dried apricots, will also help you rehydrate.
Here's the good news: The fact that you're feeling sick means that your pregnancy is progressing. By the time your first trimester is over, your hormone levels even out, and that nauseous feeling should be replaced by a ravenous appetite. Congrats!
Hungry for more? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions, concerns, and feedback.
Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, is a best-selling author and nationally recognized health expert, and the former Food and Nutrition Director at Health magazine for nearly eight years. Prior to that, she was part of the editorial team at the Discovery Health Channel and was managing editor at FoodFit.com. Frances is the author of Feed the Belly: The Pregnant Mom's Healthy Eating Guide and co-author of the best-selling The CarbLovers Diet and The CarbLovers Diet Cookbook. Frances earned her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and completed her dietetic internship at Columbia University in New York.