Q: My wife is two months pregnant and is nauseous pretty much all day long. Isn’t morning sickness supposed to be in the morning? Is there anything I can do to help her calm her stomach? Will her morning sickness last throughout the pregnancy? Does morning sickness hurt the baby?
A: About half of all pregnant women experience morning sickness. Despite the name, the nausea, heartburn, and vomiting can strike at any hour of the day. No one’s quite sure what causes morning sickness. Some suggest that it’s a reaction to the pregnant woman’s changing hormone levels. Others, such as researcher Margie Profet, suggest that morning sickness is the body’s natural way of protecting the growing fetus from “teratogins” (toxins that cause birth defects) and “abortifacients” (toxins that induce miscarriage). Either way, for most women morning sickness disappears after about the third month. Until then, here are a few things you can do to help your partner cope:
- Help her maintain a high-protein, high-carbohydrate diet.
- Encourage her to drink a lot of fluids-especially milk. You might also want to keep a large water bottle next to the bed. She should avoid caffeine, which tends to be dehydrating and she might want to start the day with a small amount of a juice or flat soda; the sweet flavor will probably encourage her to drink a little more than she might otherwise.
- Be sensitive to the sights and smells that make her queasy-and keep them away from her. Fatty or spicy foods are frequent offendors.
- Encourage her to eat a lot of small meals throughout the day-every two or three hours, if she can-and to eat before she starts feeling nauseated. Basic foods like rice and yogurt are particularly good because they’re less likely to cause nausea than greasy foods.
- Make sure she takes her prenatal vitamins.
- Put some pretzels, crackers, or rice cakes by the bed-she’ll need something to start and end the day with, and these are low in fat and calories.
- Be aware that she needs plenty of rest and encourage her to get it