Morning sickness is a well-known symptom of pregnancy, especially during the first 12 weeks. Morning sickness is the term for nausea in pregnancy, which is often prominent in the mornings upon waking. What surprises lots of mothers, though, is that it is not only nausea in the morning; for many, it is all day and can be triggered by the most unusual things.
Although morning sickness is a common symptom, there may very well be a way you can feel better and improve any discomfort you are feeling. It can vary greatly in severity of symptoms, from mild and intermittent nausea to all-day nausea and some vomiting. It can really affect us in our day-to-day life, such as work, sleep, and mental outlook, so I want to bring your attention to the helpful effects of yoga to relieve these symptoms.
How can I calm my morning sickness while pregnant?
Because we don’t know exactly what causes morning sickness, it is hard to say what the solution could be. As you have probably guessed, there isn’t a clear solution for everyone. It mostly resolves itself after 12 weeks gestation and may only happen occasionally after that.
You can calm your morning sickness by ensuring you eat regular small meals, especially a simple snack upon waking in the morning, as that is often when nausea can feel worse. Simple foods are often better tolerated, such as rice crackers, bread and fruits.
It’s usually not possible to maintain the most well-balanced diet in the first trimester. I recommend you don’t worry so much about the perfect diet – instead, aim to do the best you can with the quality of the foods you can tolerate, e.g. sourdough bread instead of simple, refined white bread, buy the best quality fresh produce such as organic fruits and vegetables, and try mung bean pasta instead of wheat pasta. Mix it up and do what you can. You will likely be able to broaden and maintain a much more well-rounded diet once you hit the second trimester.
Another good tip is to be well hydrated, but only take frequent small sips of water instead of drinking a full glass of water several times per day. Adding mint, cucumber or pineapple to your water may also further help the queasy feeling. Additionally, the classic ginger tea or ginger iced tea can be very soothing.
Spending time in the fresh air, such as a walk in nature, a local park or on the beach, can give you a sense of freshness and offer some relief. Another reason this may be helpful is that you are moving your body. Gentle movement does seem to help, but it’s important to keep it simple as your energy levels may also feel a bit low.
Can yoga help morning sickness?
Yoga is one of many tools you can use to improve morning sickness and feel better. Yoga can help reduce nausea by improving your body’s internal balance, postural alignment, digestion, minimising or eliminating constipation (also a common symptom of early pregnancy), helping reduce stress and further brightening your mindset.
Can you start yoga in early pregnancy?
As with any type of exercise in pregnancy, it is recommended that you seek advice from your healthcare provider as to what is safe for you to do. However, these yoga positions I will share with you are simple stretches that are safe for most pregnant people.
Generally, yoga is recommended by many doctors, midwives and obstetricians as it is low impact, gentle and a practice that you can tailor to your needs by using props such as blocks, bolsters, chairs and straps, so no one has to be uncomfortable or do anything that feels unsafe – but you can still get the benefits of stretching and gentle movement.
Staying active in pregnancy has numerous benefits and is strongly encouraged to improve the health of both the mother and baby. The most important thing is to listen to your body and not do anything that feels unsafe, painful, too strenuous or uncomfortable.
What positions are best for morning sickness?
1. Supta Baddha Konasana: This pose is both relaxing and actively opening and expanding the chest and diaphragm. Hold this for 5-15 minutes. This can be very helpful when we are feeling exhausted and sick. In a relaxed way you can fully surrender to your bolster (or blankets) and allow gravity to do the work for you.
For this posture I recommend several blankets and a pillow for your head so your neck and spine is long and extended. Then allow your arms and side armpit-chest to softly drop to the floor which will help you open your chest and ribcage. It is important to feel that your head is comfortably supported to avoid holding any tension in your face or neck. You should not feel any discomfort in your lower back, ensure you extend yourself slowly onto the bolster and imagine making your spine long as you lower down vertebrae by vertebrae.
2. Parsva Sukhasana: This side stretch is helpful to more dynamically open up your rib cage and lengthen your side torso. Often in pregnancy we can get a bit misaligned and when we feel unwell, tired and nauseated our posture is often more hunched over. This posture will help you keep your spine and chest open and extended. It can help digestion, and allow for your breath to flow more easily – something that can be both preventative and also relieving of nausea.
Repeat this pose on both sides, and hold for 90 seconds each. You want to press your hips evenly into the floor, and then lift up tall through your spine before leaning to the side. As you lengthen to the side you want to imagine that you are also getting longer through the crown of your head, to avoid just bending sharply in your side torso. Ensure your chest and collarbones are softly reaching to the sky, not towards the floor. This side stretch is about being long, tall and then leaning and opening to the side.
3. Salamba Balasana: This supported child pose can feel so nourishing. It offers a beautiful way of feeling held. This can help you completely relax your body and go inwards, an especially lovely way to end this short morning sickness sequence where the focus has been to open up and create more space in your body.
You can do this with several firm pillows with a final layer of a blanket to create an even, well supported surface to rest onto. You can have your arms alongside your body (pictured here) for a more deeply restorative feeling or have your arms extended towards your head. Whatever feels best for you.
Benefits of Yoga
There isn’t much that yoga can’t help with. Yoga can loosely be translated to yolk or union. This means it is a practice through breath and postures (asanas) that brings together our individuality (body and mind) with the broader infinite consciousness and spirituality.
It is a practice that can help us feel more grounded, more spiritual and more flexible both physically and mentally. After doing just a few asanas, most feel more relaxed, restful, and aligned in their body, which leads to overall feeling lighter and happier.
Studies have shown that yoga improves overall health once we have a better posture. Additionally, yoga is recommended to help us during pregnancy to keep a good anatomical alignment as our body expands to make room for the growing fetus. It also helps to make more space in our pelvis to help the fetus get into the best possible position for labour and birth.
As with so many things in pregnancy, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution to fix any ailments that may arise. Morning sickness is dreaded by many, and I hope you will be able to find a healthy balance between lifestyle, diet, sleep, supplements and body and mind practices that can help you feel your best possible. Even on days when you feel like doing nothing at all, I hope you can be reminded that doing something simple to help you stay healthy and in tune with your body is both beneficial for your mindset and the health of your growing miracle.
Perhaps a daily ritual of a few yoga postures, fresh mint water and nourishing, simple food can be just what you need to feel your very best. Above all, listen to and honour your body. It is built for this amazing job of growing your sweet baby.