Discomforts of Pregnancy: Morning Sickness

Nausea and vomiting can be one of the first signs of pregnancy, and usually begins around the 6th week of pregnancy. It can occur at anytime of the day, and for most women it seems to stop at the 12th week of pregnancy. Morning sickness is not harmful to you or your baby, but if you experience excessive vomiting and cannot manage to keep your food down, you may have hyperemesis gravidarum. Hyperemesis gravidarum can be harmful to you and your baby if severe and left untreated, due to the possible lack of nutrients and electrolyte imbalances. The most important thing is to inform your doctor when these symptoms appear and discuss possible options for treatment.

Morning Sickness

More than half of all pregnant women experience morning sickness. Morning sickness refers to the nauseated feeling you get during the first trimester of pregnancy. Morning sickness can be, but is not always, accompanied with vomiting. The nausea is a result of the increased hormones in your body. Many doctors think morning sickness is a good sign because it means the placenta is developing well.

There are a number of do's and don'ts you can try to help elevate your symptoms.

Helpful Do's and Don'ts

Do:

  • Eat small meals often
  • Drink fluids 1/2 hour before or after a meal, but not with meals
  • Drink small amounts of fluids during the day to avoid dehydration
  • Eat soda crackers 15 minutes before getting up in the morning
  • Eat whatever you feel like eating, whenever you feel you can
  • Ask someone else to cook for you and open the windows or turn on fans if the odor bothers you
  • Get plenty of rest and nap during the day
  • Avoid warm places (feeling hot adds to nausea)
  • Sniff lemons or ginger, drink lemonade, or eat watermelon to relieve nausea
  • Eat salty potato chips ( they have been found to settle stomachs enough to eat a meal)
  • Exercise

Don'ts:

  • Do not lie down after eating
  • Do not skip meals
  • Do not let this condition go untreated
  • Do not cook or eat spicy food

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a condition characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and sometimes electrolyte disturbance. Mild cases are treated with dietary measures, rest and antacids. More severe cases often require a stay in the hospital so that the mother can receive fluid and nutrition through an intravenous line. DO NOT take any medications to solve this problem without consulting your doctor first.

You should contact your doctor:

  • If you are experiencing excessive nausea and vomiting that prevents you from keeping any food down
  • If vomiting is accompanied by pain or fever
  • If nausea and vomiting persists well into the second trimester (after 12th week)

Reprinted with permission from American Pregnancy Association.