“Morning” sickness is a common compliant I see in my practice. Many women can go through the dreaded experience of nausea and vomiting during the first trimester and unfortunately, it is not just associated with the morning. Morning sickness can come on at any point of the day and in some cases can last all day. In rare cases, if vomiting is so severe, it can require hospitalization to prevent dehydration and electrolyte disturbances.
While there is not a clear understanding of the causes of morning sickness, some theories are as follows:
- Nausea and vomiting may protect the fetus by preventing the mother from consuming harmful substances, particularly at a time when she may not know she is pregnant, and when the growing fetus is at a crucial point in development.
- High levels of stress can affect digestion and appetite because so much of the nervous system resides in the gut. Pregnancy also heightens the senses which can increase the experience of stress.
- Symptoms of morning sickness may be related to a vitamin B6 deficiency.
- Morning sickness may be a result of hormonal changes in the body including increased estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid hormone, which may affect smooth muscles in the digestive tract, leading to nausea and vomiting.
- Nausea may be related to fears of being pregnant or difficulty accepting the pregnancy.
Naturopathic medicine has many tools to help aid in the treatment of morning sickness including:
- NDs can work with patients BEFORE they become pregnant to optimize health and wellbeing and to promote healthy detoxification so that the body carries less toxic burden.
- Nutritional counselling to optimize nutrient intake to relieve nausea.
- Specific vitamin and herbal supplementation to calm and nourish the digestive tract.
- Acupuncture to relieve stress as well as nausea and vomiting.
- Helping patients develop effective relaxation techniques to promote stress reduction and integrate fears they may have.