8 TIPS FOR EXERCISING WITH MORNING SICKNESS
Morning sickness may be expected in the course of pregnancy for many, with up to 50-70% of women experiencing some level of morning sickness.
For most, it’s expected in the course of the first trimester with symptoms beginning to ease into the second trimester and beyond. For some women, it lasts into the second and third trimesters. For an unlucky 0.5-1% with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), the sickness is severe and lasts until the birth of your little one.
For me, morning sickness has always been mild-moderate; lasting into the middle of the second trimester. However, I have found with each of my 4 pregnancies that morning sickness goes away when I exercise at a low-moderate level (at least for the time I am exercising). You may be wondering - 'will exercise help my morning sickness go away?' Or 'Is it OK to exercise with morning sickness?' Or, frequently turning to Dr. Google to ask 'How can I ease morning sickness?' (been there, done that!)
Unfortunately, many women don’t have sufficient knowledge about safe prenatal exercises and often feel they are unable to exercise because of nausea and extreme fatigue - one might feel too sick to exercise during first trimester. If you are in the first trimester and struggling to exercise with morning sickness during pregnancy, here are my 8 top tips (health professional and 4x mum-approved!) to help get you through this period.
Tip 1: Listen to Your Body
Yep – a tough one, but more and more, I’m realising that pregnancy is about surrendering. It’s no longer just about you, it’s about another soul and you, interacting together to bring their life into the world.
As modern women, we are probably adept at how to “push through” with life when we aren’t feeling well, especially when we have a particular goal in mind. So perhaps you are wondering how to push through morning sickness? I’d say DON'T!
We need to slow down, rest, listen to our bodies, take on whatever nutrition we can, and know that we can resume training regimes when the morning sickness subsides. Balancing some gentle movement with rest and recuperation is essential.
Tip 2: Get Outside – Get Some Fresh Air and Gentle Exercise
If you can, get outside and experience some breeze and sunshine on your face. The light gentle motion of walking will often help abate your symptoms for at least a short period of time. Whether or not it’s due to distractions, getting some fresh air and gentle movement can be really helpful when you feel sick - so yes, exercise CAN help ease morning sickness symptoms, especially when you exercise gently.
Tip 3: Stay Hydrated
This can be hard when you aren’t feeling like taking much on. However, dehydration can actually make morning sickness seem worse – so it’s worth trying to take on regular sips of water over the course of the whole day. Natural electrolytes found in coconut water or a simple Hydralyte drink sipped on (or an icy pole) can help, especially if you have been vomiting. This helps to balance out your fluid levels.
Tip 4: Avoid Anything Too Intense In This Period
Instead of trying to push through with your normal activities, opt for gentler ones that you can maintain regularly. This way you aren’t left depleted for days.
Walking, modified yoga, weight training or body weight exercises are my go-to during the pregnancy period. For further information about the dos and don'ts about exercising during the first trimester, read this blog.
Tip 5: Have A Light Snack Before And After Exercise
Maintaining even blood sugar levels and avoiding getting into the “hangry” zone is key for managing morning sickness.
Something easy to digest like a banana or a piece of toast before, and something with a little bit of protein in it after exercising like yoghurt or a smoothie (or again, toast if that’s what you can stomach) can help to reduce the severity of your nausea and ease your mind about whether you should exercise with morning sickness or nausea.
Tip 6: Don’t Beat Yourself Up
If you are used to being physically active but struggling during this early period, or even throughout pregnancy in general, please give yourself a large dose of kindness.
We shouldn’t underestimate the enormity of what our amazing bodies are doing in creating a human life. Whilst I 100% advocate for an active pregnancy for so many reasons, all that we can do is do our best at the time.
I honestly can say from personal experience, that even a short walk outdoors – that some gentle movement – or doing breathing exercises for morning sickness can really help reduce the symptoms. If you can even manage a few short 10 min bouts during the day, then this is a great place to start. Try to remember that morning sickness won’t last forever, even though it can feel like it at the time!
Tip 7: Avoid Upside Down Yoga Poses
I highly recommend avoiding yoga poses like the Downward Dog or anything with your head in a head-down position. For obvious reasons, this can aggravate both morning sickness and reflux.
For more tips about morning sickness relief, read this blog (it includes yummy nausea-reducing smoothie recipes!) You might also enjoy reading our pregnancy nutrition article where Kimberley Wright, Clinical Nutritionist & Co-founder of Fit Fab Mum, goes into detail about what minerals and vitamins you need to have a healthier pregnancy.
Tip 8: Find Something That You Can Do Daily, and Enjoy
Consistency is the key to good health and wellbeing, and finding something that is achievable for you to manage exercise with morning sickness. It will also help you easily pick back ups when this period of your pregnancy has passed. My top picks are walking, light weights, prenatal yoga, and prenatal pilates.
Pregnancy is such an individual game. If there’s one thing I have learnt (through 4 pregnancies in 5 years!), it’s that we can’t compare ourselves to others. We often need to shift the bar for what we expect of ourselves and add a large dose of self-compassion.
In the end, surrendering to the changes going on in our body, pleasant and unpleasant, is a great training for motherhood and the journey to come. This will help you build resilience, surrender, and flexibility of mind.
P.S. If you are reading this and suffering from extreme morning sickness, any exercise you are planning to do should be undertaken in consultation with your caregiver.