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Morning, Noon and Night Sickness

morning sickness
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Mayonnaise on white bread, doughnuts from the vending machine, and good old saltine crackers: Nearly every mom has a solution, complaint or story to tell about morning sickness.

The best part is that it usually lasts just for the first trimester, although it may continue through month four for some women, and some others suffer the nausea throughout their pregnancies.

The worst part? Well, it really can strike any time of day. The name is a misnomer, although many women do find that the nausea goes away as the day moves on. About 80 percent of pregnant women experience some type of morning sickness, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (www.aafp.org).

For me, the morning was OK, but an empty stomach was not. My most embarrassing moment was heading to teach a class one afternoon before we had announced the pregnancy. I was already hungry a few hours after lunch and I thought the nausea would win. I stopped at the vending machine and the only item that looked edible to me at that moment was a pack of tiny doughnuts.

As I walked down the hall, I ripped open the package and shoved one doughnut in my mouth. I managed a second and then stuffed a third in my mouth as I pushed open the door to class. As the students turned to stare, I wondered what they thought of their pastry-popping professor. Of course, by the end of the semester they knew: Those doughnuts weren’t just for me.

Shelly Reifke of Oswego swears by mayonnaise smeared on white bread. She says it fixes her nausea caused by almost anything except the flu or a virus. Her mother told her the success of her solution was all in her head, but some tips for reducing morning sickness from the National Institutes of Health back her up.

The NIH endorses healthy snacking, and first on its list is saltine crackers or dry toast. For true morning sickness, eat the crackers or toast in bed, first thing, before your feet touch the floor. One friend of mine did that religiously and downed the crackers with flat ginger ale. Nothing worked until month four of the pregnancy arrived.

Ginger has been found to help morning sickness for some. Ginger tea, ginger ale soda (flat, so it doesn’t contribute to gas) and ginger candy are suggested by the NIH.

The exact cause of morning sickness remains unknown, according to the NIH. “It may be caused by hormone changes or lower blood sugar during early pregnancy. Emotional stress, fatigue, traveling, or some foods can make the problem worse.” Not that we would experience any stress or fatigue during pregnancy, right?

If morning sickness can occur in a woman pregnant with one baby, what about those carrying twins or triplets? My friend Heather Scanlon of Syracuse said her morning sickness definitely was worse—and lasted most of the day—when carrying her twins compared to carrying her singleton.

“I tried to find something to comfort me,” she recalls. “I recommend trying to find that thing that you crave. For me it was Pepsi (with or without caffeine) or a french fry or a potato chip, stuff that wasn’t so good for you.”

At one point during the six months of “day” sickness with the twins, the thing she craved was Thai food, “the hotter the better,” she says. “So we had to eat out a lot,” she says, laughing. “It was about a month and then it wouldn’t do.” She tried to never let her stomach get completely empty. “You don’t feel like eating, but it’s good to nibble on something.”

Certain smells also could turn her stomach, which is a common pregnancy complaint. To avoid bad odors during my first pregnancy, I stopped emptying the kitchen garbage. Somehow I’ve never gotten back into that chore and my husband apparently has forgotten why.

Drinking plenty of water keeps nausea at bay for some pregnant women. Kathi Dutton, of Oswego, says, “I would sip on water and I didn’t drink soda or juice or anything that would upset me.” She was lucky her morning sickness truly ended by afternoon. “I would eat something plain and light for breakfast and then not again ’til early afternoon.”

She planned her work tasks around her queasiness, too. “I was doing accounting work for a fast food company that did subs,” she explains. She didn’t work in the sandwich shops, but she did have to handle the receipts. She would save that task for afternoons when the smell of tuna fish and grease wouldn’t bother her stomach as much. And then she “prayed for month four to come fast.”              

Eileen Gilligan, a mother of two, lives in Baldwinsville.

© Family Times: The Parenting Guide of Central New York