"I literally woke up and was sick all day long. I couldn't eat. I lost a bunch of weight…I just stayed in bed all day."
She is feeling great now, and back to work filming the next season of This Is Us. But the first months of her pregnancy were difficult. In an interview with SiriusXM, Moore spoke about her struggles with significant pregnancy nausea. She said, "I was really sick in the beginning… super sick."
She feels lucky that she was able to stay home during that time, noting that she doesn't know how women do it. "I literally woke up and was sick all day long. I couldn't eat. I lost a bunch of weight…I just stayed in bed all day."
Moore joins the 70 to 80% of people who experience morning sickness during pregnancy—or, as those 70 to 80% of people know, 'all day every day, why do I feel soooo gross?' sickness.
Pregnancy nausea and vomiting are thought to be caused by the hormones of pregnancy, and of course, all of the changes the body is going through to support the new little embryo inside it. For example, a pregnant body processes glucose (sugar) differently and that can have a big impact on how one's tummy feels (this is why we suggest frequent snacking as a way to stave off nausea—but more on that in a moment).
It is possible that this change to how we process glucose helps our babies develop. As I share here, "Anthropologist Kari Moca writes that morning sickness may exist to help the embryo develop. When you are nauseous and vomiting (and therefore eating less), your body burns fat stores. This generates more ketones in your body, which are awesome brain-developing-fuel for your baby."
Some experts also think that there was once a protective aspect of pregnancy nausea; if our pregnant hunter-gatherer ancestors were nauseous, they'd be less likely to pick up and eat an unknown (and possibly poisonous) plant—and this was a good thing for the continuation of the species.
How to help pregnancy nausea
If you are in the throws of pregnancy nausea, you know first hand how tough it can be. Here are some of my favorite ways to combat pregnancy nausea, as shared in The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama:
Acupressure Wrist Bands: In most pharmacies, you can find elastic wristbands with plastic knobs that apply pressure to a specific area in your wrist. While they are marketed for decreasing seasickness, research has found that they can be very effective at decreasing pregnancy-related nausea.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture has not had a ton of evidence to support that it works for morning sickness. However, many women swear by it, so it may be worth considering. You can also ask about acupressure.
Eating often: Many times women find that they get nauseated just as they are also getting hungry. To avoid this, keep crackers (or something else that you enjoy that is easy to eat) with you at all times, in your bag, your bathroom, your bedside— everywhere. Try to graze on the snacks all day (and in the middle of the night when you get up to pee) to keep that yucky tummy at bay.
Ginger: Ginger comes in many forms and can help with nausea. You can add ginger to your food or find capsules, candy or (real) ginger ale (just beware of the high sugar content).
Mint: Peppermint candies and mint tea can be awesome for nausea. Smelling mint can also be lovely: You can get a few mint leaves and grind them up to release the smell, smell a bag of mint tea or add a few drops of mint essential oil to a diffuser if you have one.
Tart food: You may find that tart food (like a lemon or lemon-flavored candies) makes you feel better. (I used to suck on lemon slices.) But make sure you are keeping up with your dental care. Citrus fruits are not great for the enamel of your teeth. Simply smelling lemons can help as well.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): This vitamin has helped women lessen their nausea. It can be purchased over the counter, but it's best to talk with your provider about it first because it is already in your prenatal vitamin. (You can also get a prescription for it.) Vitamin B6 can be found in milk, sunflower seeds, salmon, eggs, sweet potato, bananas, beans and many cereals.
Prescription medications: There are a number of prescription medications available to help, so be sure to talk with your provider about them if you are interested.
When does pregnancy nausea get better?
For most people, including Moore, nausea and vomiting do get better (usually around the beginning of the second trimester). Moore said, "I know that sometimes it can persevere for the entire pregnancy, so I'm lucky that that kind of trailed off and I feel much better now."
Moore is referring to hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition in which people experience severe nausea and vomiting throughout their pregnancy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is rare, but for those that have it, it is truly debilitating.
If you are nauseous all day long without reprieve, throwing up often, unable to drink or eat for 24 hours, or just feeling super gross, reach out to your provider right away. This can become dangerous, and it's important to get treatment quickly.
My hope for you is that like the Matriarch of the Pearson family, you start to feel better soon. Until you do, please remember that you are not alone—and you can get through, I promise.
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