Friday, 25 January 2013
Anyone who has suffered with morning sickness will tell you how absolutely awful it can be. It is a very odd time for women as the elation and excitement of being pregnant is often subdued by the intermittent or, often non-stop feelings of nausea, low energy, dizziness and vomiting. There is no magic pill that will take it away and none of natural remedies are guaranteed to work. It is something that you know you just have to put up with, in the knowledge that at some point (for most it is around 12 weeks, but for others it can continue longer) it will stop.
No one really understand what causes morning sickness, but it is believed to be triggered by a combination of hormonal, physical and emotional changes that take place when a woman becomes pregnant.
Some say it may be nature’s way of preventing the mother from eating foods that are not helpful to her or her baby for example women completely go off things like tea, coffee, wine and, believe it or not, even chocolate! However in research studies, far more women went off foods that are recommended as being good for her baby such as fish, eggs or meat. This is particularly interesting as in a study comparing anthropological reports of 27 societies[i], the seven societies for which morning sickness was completely unknown rarely ate animal products, relying instead on corn, rice, tubers, and other plants.
Most websites and pregnancy resources will tell you that morning sickness is considered a normal part of pregnancy quoting that up to 80% of women (in our society) will get it. However there is considerable research, including a study that came out in Germany this month (January 2013), which has shown that psychosocial variables have a clear influence on incidents of morning sickness including levels of stress, social support and emotions relating to being pregnant.[ii] Stress in particular has been shown to increase the incidence and severity of morning sickness[iii],[iv] as an Increase in cortisol (stress hormones) leads to highs and lows of blood sugar which bring on the bouts of morning sickness.
Another theory is that it may also be nature’s way of getting a mum to slow down, to take better care of herself, and to begin her journey to becoming a mother by ensuring that she begins to be more aware of the effect her actions have on her baby.
Which ever view you hold, morning sickness is something that is very common, and in most cases is considered to be a positive element of pregnancy - statistically morning sickness reduces the likelihood of miscarriage, pre-term birth, low birth weight and perinatal death.
However, if you are suffering from morning sickness you probably do not really care what the theories are or why you have it – you probably just want ideas on how to reduce or get rid of it.
There are several natural ways to help reduce morning sickness including acupuncture, acupressure, taking ginger, peppermint, eating bland foods and grazing rather than eating big meals. Another way that has helped many women, including the Duchess of Cambridge is by using hypnotherapy.
So what is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy (ie using the state of hypnosis for a therapeutic outcome) involves listening to a therapist in person or on a CD, who will use calming, relaxing words, imagery and often music to guide you into a relaxed state. Once in this relaxed state (when you are in fact still aware of your surroundings and could, if you wanted to open your eyes and interact) you listen to specific positive suggestions to help you reframe or change the way you currently respond to things. All things in life have a cause and an effect, for example you hear your name so you respond, you feel hungry so you eat, you stuck in traffic so you feel stressed etc. The suggestions given when you are in this relaxed state are based on the premise that you can not usually change the cause but you can change how you respond. Because the conscious part of your mind (the critical, analytical part of you) is resting, you become very open and accepting of these positive suggestions and they become a new way for you to deal with the difficulties you were facing before.
So how can hypnotherapy help a woman experiencing symptoms of morning sickness?
As already discussed, stress can play a significant part in the onset and severity of morning sickness. However, reducing stress consciously or on demand is a difficult thing to. Hypnotherapy helps you do this on several levels. Firstly the simple fact that you are taking time out (usually about 30 mins) to relax and switch off means that you are reducing the body’s levels of stress hormones, calming your thoughts and focusing on positive feelings. Secondly whilst in a deeply relaxed state you are listening to positive suggestions about releasing any tension or stress and replacing them with calmer, more positive feelings. And thirdly whilst in hypnosis you take on new ways of dealing with the stress once you are out of hypnosis and dealing with your daily life (called a post hypnotic suggestion). By being calmer, more relaxed and less stressed the symptoms of morning sickness will reduce.
The second key factor is to help you reframe your thoughts and feelings about food and smells giving you positive suggestions to change your response such as imagining (and so having) a minty or lemony taste in your mouth which replaces the unpleasant sensations and to be attracted to foods that feel and are good for you. According to the latest reports on the Duchess of Cambridge 'The hypnotherapy is taking away any negative thoughts connected with food from the morning sickness, and replacing them with cravings for healthy, nutritious food”.
Whilst in hypnosis you also learn an easy and quick to use technique to bring about feelings of positivity, energy, and a fresh lemony taste when you going about your daily routine. This can be a really useful tool to instantly feel better at any time of night or day. Additional positive suggestions for overcoming morning sickness would include: better quality sleep; more comfortable digestion; more effective use of energy; feeling/being calmer when dealing with every day issues; and increasing water intake.
This form of Hypnotherapy is not just for the rich and famous, my “Overcome morning sickness” CD (£11.99) helps pregnant women to deal with nausea and morning sickness through by listening to the cd in their own home. A survey carried out in conjunction with Pregnancy and Birth Magazine, found that 10 out of 10 mothers would recommend this CD to a friend and 9 out of 10 felt significant benefit from using it. Second time Mum Mandy said: "After listening to your CD I stopped being sick after meals. The nausea only comes back very occasionally, and my appetite has improved almost back to normal! I wish I'd known about it for my last pregnancy, as I suffered really badly until about 18 weeks. I'll certainly recommend the CD to my friends."
[i] http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/May00/morning.sickness.hrs.html - Morning sickness is Mother Nature's way of protecting mothers and their unborn, Cornell biologists find
[ii] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17905253 Relationships between nausea and vomiting, perceived stress, social support, pregnancy planning, and psychosocial adaptation in a sample of mothers: a questionnaire survey.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23232775 Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy: Prevalence, Severity and Relation to Psychosocial Health
[iii] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17207743A comparison of different severities of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy relative to stress, social support, and maternal adaptation.