When she was expecting, Vanessa Tan, 28, never thought it would mean four months of not being able to eat and worse, stomach her favourite foods. She says, “I couldn’t stand the smell and taste of garlic, onions and mushrooms! Which means I couldn’t even enjoy simple Chinese food!”
Nor did it help that her neighbour used a good amount of aromatics in their cooking. Because of her persistent morning sickness, Tan’s diet went from tasty to pretty bland. She recalls, “I had to stick to bread and tau huay (soy bean pudding) and eat in small portions, so as not to puke.”
Other things she could eat included cheese pancake, corn soup, French fries, hotdog buns and hard-boiled eggs. She adds, “I went from live to eat to eat to live and I was really depressed.” Tan’s hubby not only had to follow her restricted diet, he had to brush his teeth after eating out. He was also forced to ditch his body wash as she couldn’t bear its smell.
“I went from live to eat to eat to live and I was really depressed.”
Tan isn’t alone in having to deal with this pesky pregnancy problem. As many as 50 per cent of expectant women experience some form of morning sickness, says SmartParents expert Dr Christopher Chong, an ob-gyn at Gleneagles Hospital. “The severity of vomiting and nausea depends on the individual and their tolerance levels.” Don’t be deceived by the name either ― morning sickness can occur at any time of the day during any meal.
What causes morning sickness?
Morning sickness usually begins in the first trimester of pregnancy because of a surge in hormones like human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Tan’s morning sickness began seven weeks into her pregnancy. Dr Chong adds, “Other causes of morning sickness also include middle ear, urinary and vaginal infections and thyroid hormone problems.”
How long will it last?
The good news is that most women take this condition in their stride, and the symptoms largely disappear by 16 weeks. Dr Chong notes that less than 5 per cent need to check into hospital. When you are admitted, the main purpose is to rehydrate your body. Dr Chong explains that dehydration can be especially detrimental to the health of the foetus, affecting the foetus’ nutrition, oxygen supply and growth.
As the hospital, you’ll be given intravenous fluids containing anti-vomiting medication to hydrate you, as well as create a break in the vomiting cycle. This barfing breather gives you the chance to eat nutritious foods.
Get expert tips on handling your morning sickness like a pro…click on
Even though her doctor prescribed medication, Tan was apprehensive, “I think too much medication is bad for my baby.” Dr Chong assures skittish mums-to-be that doctors would only give a short course of medication, so as not harm the baby. “Take the medication where necessary. There is no need to suffer. In fact, [your morning sickness] may well be easily resolved!” Dr Chong notes. He also suggests other strategies that’ll ease nausea:
Include some sour foods Consuming tart stuff stimulates the palate and salivary glands, so try prunes or plums. You could also sniff or lick a wedge of lemon ― the refreshing scent and taste should calm the stomach.
Load up on fluids Remember? Dehydration can lower the oxygen supply for your growing baby and even slow his growth!
Know your triggers and avoid them Be observant and take note of what triggers your vomiting. It can be a particular smell or food, such as oily or fried stuff.
“Although the journey was tough, to be able to see her grow day by day is more rewarding than I could have imagined.”
Eat small amounts of food throughout the day This way, you’ll make sure that your stomach isn’t empty.
Take antacids This remedy can reduce reflux, while providing relief from the heartburn or indigestion that excess stomach acids causes.
Stay active Regular exercise can help you combat acid reflux and gas, while taking your mind off all that nausea and vomiting, Dr Chong stresses.
If you are down with morning sickness, Dr Chong advises that you regard it as a good sign that your pregnancy is progressing well. Indeed, looking back at her ordeal while carrying Sarah, her now 7-month-old daughter, Tan says, “Although the journey was tough, to be able to see her grow day by day is more rewarding than I could have imagined.”
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