By Tan Yi Lin
Morning sickness – is the bane of early pregnancy, when the receipt of good news is quickly followed by feeling nauseous and dizzy. While not all pregnant women may suffer from morning sickness, it often causes much discomfort to those who do.
While there is no known cause of morning sickness, this uncomfortable condition is usually attributed to the increase in the level of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) during pregnancy, which could slow the digestive system and generate excess stomach acids. Some women also become more sensitive to odours when they conceive, which in turn triggers off feelings of nausea more easily and more frequently.
One of the best ways to ward off morning sickness is to get sufficient rest. But if you are a working mum-to-be, there’s no avoiding having to rise and shine early in the day – usually when the nausea is at its worst – to go to work.
So how else can you cope with morning sickness while in the office?
1. Ride Easy
For some women, getting to work may be a challenge in itself. Avoid driving or squeezing onto the MRT or bus with the morning rush-hour crowd if you are feeling ill. Arrange for your husband, family member or friend to drive you to work. Stash some air-sickness bags (or any plastic bag that is opaque, strong, sealable and has no holes) near the passenger seat or in your handbag within easy reach.
2. Adjust Eating Habits
Eating may be the last thing on your mind when you’re feeling nauseous. However, avoiding an empty stomach and drinking plenty of fluids can help to reduce the symptoms of morning sickness.
Keep blood sugar levels up by munching on dry snacks such as crackers. Adjust your meal schedule and portions so that you eat small, frequent meals throughout the day to prevent stomach discomfort.
Certain foods like lemons and ginger may help alleviate nausea so squeeze some fresh lemons into your water or have some ginger tea on standby in the office. Nibbling on a snack of dried orange peel may make you feel better too.
Keeping your breath fresh throughout the day can also help. You can either brush your teeth more frequently or keep breath mints by your side and pop a couple when needed.
3. Get Comfortable
Tightening waistbands and bra straps due to a growing tummy and chest can augment feelings of nausea and breathlessness associated with morning sickness. Slip into dresses or looser, flowing blouses instead of your usual fitted shirts and pencil skirts. Consider getting extension hooks for your bras. Wear flats or shoes with low heels to accommodate swollen and tired feet.
Some women find that donning acupressure wristbands used by travellers to combat motion sickness can also help alleviate nausea and dizziness. If you are not yet ready to share the news of your pregnancy with your colleagues, do remember to wear garments with long sleeves that cover the bands.
4. Get Out
A simple way to manage morning sickness at work is to just step out of the office for some fresh air. Spare a few minutes a day to take a quick stroll outdoors, feel the wind blowing in your face and breathe in deeply. Aaahhhhh…… feeling better already?
5. Seek Help
Speak to your boss about flexible working arrangements. If you are feeling too terrible to start work on the dot at 8.30am every day, ask if you can arrive and leave an hour later instead until your morning sickness becomes more manageable later on in the pregnancy.
If you have informed your colleagues about your pregnancy, seek their cooperation not to eat their packed lunches at their desks but to consume all food in the pantry instead, so that wafting food odours can be contained in one part of the office. If you are currently seated near the pantry and find the smell of people’s lunches unbearable, consider asking your boss to temporarily relocate you farther away from the pantry.
As a last resort, if it is getting really difficult to cope with morning sickness at work, you can see your doctor for prescribed remedies to see you through the first trimester. However, symptoms of morning sickness tend to magically disappear after the 12th week of pregnancy, so take heart – there is an end in sight!