safe motherhood



Nearly 80% of women experience pregnancy sickness - and not just in the morning. Some women will just feel a bit nauseous. Others will feel sick every day and may actually vomit. An unlucky few will be so unwell that they need to take time off work. The good news is that most women start to feel a lot better at about 14 weeks.

Hormonal changes may be the cause: the pattern of sickness seems to follow the ebbs and flows of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), the hormone that orchestrates the production of other pregnancy hormones. Levels rise rapidly during the first six weeks, peak at eight to 10 weeks, and begin to fall at 11-13 weeks.

Some people believe that pregnancy sickness protects your baby from harmful substances, this may be why so many women can't bear coffee, alcohol, cigarette or petrol fumes at this crucial time.

Snacking can help reduce morning sickness. Some women are really helped by sucking lemons or peppermints, others swear by crisps, bananas or breakfast cereals. Nibble something at night if you wake up. It may stop you feeling so sick in the morning.

Homemade, day-old popcorn is said to reduce nausea. Keep crackers by the bedside to nibble before you get up in the morning. Try ginger biscuits or ginger ale, or make ginger tea by infusing a little grated ginger root with boiling water in a teapot. You can add lemon or honey to taste and drink hot or cold.

Ask your midwife or GP about taking a supplement of vitamin B6 with magnesium. This may help if you are vomiting a lot. Foods rich in B6 include cereals, bananas, baked potatoes, lentils and tinned fish.

Consider using sea sickness acupressure bands, which are available from pharmacies.

You should also try to rest as much as you can. Acupuncture may also help. (See Looking after yourself/Complementary therapies).