Morning sickness, as Kate Middleton now knows, is not a very accurate label for the condition women are likely to experience in the early stages of pregnancy as the hormonal balance of their bodies undergoes enormous change. For most the symptoms will be nothing more than mild nausea, but for others it can be more severe, with an inability to hold down food throughout the day and often lasting for weeks if not months. The good news is that usually the symptoms pass quickly, and if you follow my simple practical tips, can be kept under control.
I am lucky enough to have taught thousands of women yoga over the last decade and to have seen them cruise through their pregnancy and birth, thanks to the excellent physical and mental preparation pregnancy yoga provides. Yoga helps you feel more energetic, healthy, calm and reduces the aches and pains normally associated with pregnancy. It helps you prepare for labour and get back to shape after your baby is born. It is not at all surprising to me that more and more doctors are encouraging women to take up yoga during pregnancy.
So what do I advise for morning sickness? The first thing is to take it easy, and get plenty of rest. Your hormones are all over the place as they prepare your body for growing your baby and you will probably be feeling exhausted. It is not a good idea to do physical exercise before 14 weeks is up and you have had the all clear from your doctor.
- Drink lots of Ginger tea. Not only does it taste zingy and delicious (I love it with a little Manuka honey) but also it is one of nature's best remedies for nausea. Ginger biscuits are a must-have bed-side snack.
- Eat little and often. Balancing blood sugar levels with frequent small snacks will help keep sickness at bay. I used to have a small bag of nuts or a piece of fruit in my handbag for emergencies.
- Take vitamin B supplements, which have been shown to help with morning sickness.
- Try wearing acupressure wrist bands. These help by activating the 'Inner Gate' point which, according to Chinese medicine, will help eliminate nausea and bring on a feeling of calm.
- Regularly practice calming breathing exercises. Here is a simple one that I always teach at the beginning of my classes: Sit comfortably on the floor with your legs crossed. Notice the floor beneath you and become aware of the support it provides you. Let any tightness you feel in your body melt away. Breathe in and out deeply through your nose. Focus your awareness on the sound and rhythm of your breath. Now try to slow down and deepen your breath. Enjoy the feeling of it moving in and out of your abdomen. After a few minutes you will notice how much calmer you feel.
- Make sure you have some quiet time every day. I recommend lying on your back on a rug or yoga mat on the floor for 5-10 minutes at least once a day. If you find this uncomfortable try lying on your side with a cushion between your knees. Feel all of your muscles releasing tension as you let go and relax. Imagine your body melting into the floor and welcome this feeling of release.
Here is a link to a breathing exercise on my Pregnancy Health Yoga DVD: