Updated: Mar 1, 2019
Morning sickness effects more than 50% of all pregnant women. Despite its common name, many women experience the symptoms of nausea and vomiting at any point during the day. Generally these symptoms begin around week six and subside by week twelve. Though some experience symptoms as early as week four, and others lasting through week fourteen. It has become a common thought that morning sickness is normal and just a part of pregnancy. But it doesn’t have to be!
There are a number of theories regarding the cause of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. TCM has two perspectives on why morning sickness occurs. Either there is an excess build up of of Qi causing a blockage which then creates rebellious Qi to flow upwards. Or a deficiency in the digestive system which in addition to the nausea and vomit can leave a woman with additional symptoms such as fatigue, loose stools, a feeling of heaviness in the limbs or edema. Western medicine speculates that a spike in Human chorionic gonadtropin (HCG) is the main cause and seems to correlate. Estrogen rising is another offender, though there is no clear research providing this to be true. Western treatment provides temporary relief with OTC’s or prescription drugs which all have known side effects. TCM practitioners will find the root cause and organ imbalance and use a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine as a safe and natural alternative.
A few common Chinese herbs used for Morning Sickness:
Ginger (Sheng Jiang): Who doesn’t love ginger? It is amazing and so versitile. It’s warm, acrid and releasing. Dispersing in nature, ginger warms the spleen and stomach and transforms phlegm and effectively relieves nausea and vomiting. This is an easy addition to most meals or snacks. There are even ginger candies that work wonders when you are on the go.
Cardamom (Sha Ren): Aromatic, transforms dampness, promotes the free flow of Qi, warms the middle, improves appetite, relieves nausea and vomiting.
Patchouli (Huo Xiang): Aromatic, transforms dampness, harmonizes the middle jiao and alleviates nausea.
Your provider will prescribe a Chinese herbal formula suited to treat your individualized diagnosis and will discuss possible dietary or nutritional supplements based on your constitution.
What can I do at home?
Freshly grate or press ginger (I use a garlic press), or prepare an entire tuber of ginger and store in a small jar for 2-3 days. Add 1 tsp. ginger to boiling water and drink as needed throughout the day. Add fresh ginger to smoothies or juices but be careful not to eat too many cold foods as it can further upset your digestive system.
Many women successfully reduce their nausea and vomiting by eating small meals very regularly. Remember to eat foods rich in nutrients: cooked veggies and meat, bananas, berries, yogurt(preferably very low in sugar), soups, and stews. Consider eating pumpkin, squash, oatmeal and whole grains rather than processed, difficult to digest flours and pastries. Many women find they need to eat every hour or two. Keep in mind easy digestible foods since the little human growing inside you is eating what you are eating and their digestive system has not fully developed.
Avoid foods high in sugar, processed foods, fried foods, caffeine and soda.
Eat fat. Coconut oil, avocado, soups and stews with slow cooked meat and veggies are very nourishing to our body. Animal fats aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins and are necessary as the building blocks for neurotransmitters and a healthy gut.
Many women find relief when incorporating B6 with their prenatal vitamin. Talk to your provider about this.
Research your prenatal vitamin. What is its bioavailability? Are there any reviews from other mama's? Many multivitamins are made in a way that our bodies simply can not absorb.