About half of all pregnant women experience morning sickness. Despite the name, the nausea, heartburn, and vomiting traditionally associated with morning sickness can strike your partner 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, fortunately 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. She might want to start the day with a small amount of 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 offenders.
- Encourage her to eat a lot of small meals throughout the day; every two or three hours, if possible and to eat before she starts feeling nauseated. She should try to eat basic foods like rice and yogurt. These are particularly good because they are 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.