What is morning sickness?
Morning sickness refers to nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Despite its name it can occur at any time of the day or night. It occurs in about 50% of pregnancies, usually between the sixth and sixteenth week, but is the most intense at 8-12 weeks.
Is it serious?
The main concern is dehydration from vomiting, when hospitalisation might be necessary to receive intravenous fluids. This acute state is medically known as hyperemesis gravidarum - suffered by the Dutchess of Cambridge during her first pregnancy.
What causes morning sickness?
Morning sickness is generally thought to occur because of the massive change in hormones, although fatigue, stress or emotional factors can also contribute.
Vitamin B6 deficiency is thought to be another possible cause, and evidence suggests B6 could relieve symptoms. Although it is safer to take through a healthy balanced diet which includes: wholemeal bread, brown rice, oatmeal, cod, milk, fresh vegetables and fruit, rather than vitamin supplements.
Conventional treatment for morning sickness?
Your GP or midwife will give lifestyle advice to cope with morning sickness, including drinking lots of fluids, eating small, frequent meals and getting plenty of rest.
There are some anti-sickness medications (antiemetics) which might be recommended if lifestyle changes don't make a difference.
How do I treat morning sickness?
I muscle test for foods that might be sensitive for you - although this is often not necessary - you are more than aware what are problems for you! Particularly strong smelling foods.
I will test if there is any pathogen - candida, bacteria, virus or parasite that might be exacerbating your symptoms.
Acupuncture is my main modality for morning sickness, and I find it effective, but it does need regular treatments.
During the early stage of pregnancy, huge energetic changes are going on in the body and acupuncture can help at that energetic level - so the nausea subsides, vomiting (if there was any) or belching fade away, the sense of smell becomes manageable, and energy and emotions return to balance, for mum-to-be to enjoy her pregnancy.
I do not use many pins, and the treatment is entirely safe to the pregnancy.
The pins help you relax from the stress of morning sickness, and some patients go to sleep. Generally the nausea and other symptoms will resolve from the beginning to the end of treatment - sometimes it can take a little longer. In the beginning it often comes back, but with a few sessions it is possible for mum-to-be to return to a "normal" life.
I recommend the following schedule of treatment:
Treatment 1 - first appointment
Treatment 2: 4 days later
Treatment 3: 1 week later
Thereafter weekly as required.
- For specific symptoms - we will tap on sickness or other negative symptoms
- Can be used for any emotional issues, either due to the pregnancy or due to other life events - which often get to you more at this time.
Effectiveness of treatment:
In my own clinic I see rewarding results for “morning sickness”. It doesn’t work in every case – perhaps at least 80%, but where it does, it’s truly miraculous and allows the mum-to-be to get back to feeling normal again.
I can find no BAcC research to support the effect of acupuncture for morning sickness, however the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises that acupressure on the wrist may be effective in reducing symptoms of nausea in pregnancy. Acupressure involves wearing a special band or bracelet on your forearm. Some researchers have suggested that putting pressure on certain parts of the body may cause the brain to release certain chemicals that help reduce nausea and vomiting.
Each case is slightly different, so to discuss your symptoms further call 020 7370 4693 or email.
A case study from my clinic
Katie, 32 years, 7 weeks pregnant.
Katie had found out she was pregnant one week earlier. She felt really nauseous and when she started to throw up 2 days earlier - it was the trigger to book an appointment (she has seen me historically for allergies). Her energy levels were terrible, her sleep was broken. Her work as a social worker was affected, she found it difficult to concentrate and felt very irritable. The first time I saw her her nausea was about 7/10 and she felt really teary.
As soon as I put in the pins, the nausea subsided to 0/10, and she actually fell asleep.
I saw her 4 days later she had been better, and she felt better in herself, but there was still nausea (variable intensity) and tiredness.
At the next weekly treatment, symptoms were initially better for some days after treatment: her energy levels were good for the first part of the week, then worse, her mood was better, but she'd been teary the last few days. Her sleep was better. Her appetite was poor. She had a little back ache.
After her next weekly treatment, there was no nausea, energy levels were much better, she was feeling better in herself - although she did get back ache with walking.
I continued to treat her weekly until week 11 of her pregnancy - this meant her bouts of nausea were infrequent, emotionally she felt more balanced, and she was able to continue with her work - which was a priority for her.
Lifestyle advice for morning sickness
- Try to drink a little warm water very regularly. If this is difficult soup can be a good way to take in liquid. Peppermint tea may be another good source of fluids.
- If belching relieves the nausea, carbonated drinks with ginger may help
- Try apple 1 tbsp cider vinegar with boiling water and honey to taste, chamomile tea, ginger tea (grate ginger root in boiling water) - but limit to 2 cups a day
- Small regular snacks will keep blood sugar levels stable (every 1-2 hours) eg. almonds, fruit
- Eat a low GI diet, avoiding sugar - to keep balanced blood sugar levels
- Consider eating a diet that a young child could digest - so keeping foods simple: baked vegetable, cooked and raw fruits, well-cooked grains, soups
- Get lots of rest - and avoid over-work (your body is making tremendous changes, even though at this stage there is little to show for it). Take naps and go to bed early - even if that means 7pm!
- Oil burners can relieve the sensitivity to odours - peppermint oil, carrying a lemon can be helpful - while on the move