Morning Sickness
Nausea And Hyperemesis Gravidarum During Pregnancy

Feeling sick


Morning Sickness


What Is Morning Sickness?
What Causes It?
Treatment And Remedies
Anti-Nausea Medications

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Pregnancy Symptom List

What Is Morning Sickness?

Morning sickness is also known as pregnancy nausea/vomiting. Symptoms can appear within one week of conception, but are more common around week six. Medical studies show that nearly 75 percent of pregnant women experience some form of nausea or vomiting during pregnancy. Morning sickness is one of the first early signs of pregnancy, but fortunately usually ends by week 12, the start of the second trimester of pregnancy. That said, some women experience symptoms throughout their pregnancy - particularly those who are pregnant with twins. Despite the word 'morning', nausea and queasiness may in fact last throughout the day and night. Morning sickness does not harm your baby; in fact, many experts believe that it indicates a well developing placenta. The only time to worry is when morning sickness is accompanied by excessive vomiting (a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum), as this can result in dehydration, weight loss and vitamin deficiencies. Fortunately this is a relatively uncommon condition affecting only in 1 percent of pregnancies. If you have any concerns, your OB/GYN will be able to discuss possible treatment options.

What Causes It?

Hormones Rushing Around The Body: Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a pregnancy hormone which stimulates the secretion of estrogen. An increase in the level of estrogen is one possible cause of morning sickness. Interestingly, similar levels of nausea are reported in women who take the contraceptive birth pill or estrogen replacement therapy which act by increasing levels estrogen in the body. Additionally, increased levels of the hormone progesterone, necessary to relax the muscles and ligaments in preparation for delivery and childbirth, may also cause raised levels of stomach acid and acid reflux by relaxing the stomach muscles.

Low Blood Sugar Levels: Also called hypoglycemia: Resulting from a growing placenta which steals the mother’s blood stores of energy. This has not yet been confirmed by scientific studies.

Sensitivities: Increased sensitivity to smell and taste may over stimulate the body, triggering nausea. See metallic taste in mouth.

Defense Mechanism: Scientists are currently investigating whether morning sickness is an evolutionary trait, a way to protect the growing fetus from toxins. First trimester development is the most critical time for a baby as it is when fetal abnormalities or birth defects are most likely to occur. Even small dosages of toxins, which are unharmful to adults, can be fatal for fetuses. Nausea caused by exposure to smells or foods, may be a way of putting the mother off substances which although may be harmless to her, could be injurious to the fetus.

Treatment And Remedies

Unfortunately there is no 'cure' for morning sickness so natural remedies typically just aim to reduce the bouts or severity of an episode. Some home remedies and prevention tips include:

Eat Little and Often: this will help to regulate your blood sugar and stomach acid levels. Avoid having an empty stomach. This tip is also useful to women experiencing dizziness while pregnant.

Ginger Syrup: Take 250mg, 3 times a day. Studies show that ginger syrup is particularly effective, you need to take about 4 tablespoons a day.

Vitamin B6 Supplements: These may reduce nausea and vomiting. Most prenatal multivitamins contain B vitamins, but the dosage of B6 might not be high enough. Check with your doctor about taking an additional B supplement. See also prenatal care guide.

Morning Sickness Magic: One popular treatment is the herbal remedy Red Raspberry Leaf, which contains B6, ginger and folic acid. One capsule is recommended 4 times a day. Manufacturers claim pregnant women should see an improvement in symptoms within 5 days. Check with your healthcare provider before taking any herbal remedy.

Iron supplements: May cause nausea, but check with your doctor before changing your dosage.

Avoid: Spicy and fatty foods and drinking liquids with your meals. Also avoid drinking tea, coffee and citrus juices.

Exercise: Fresh air and movement will help keep your system from turning sluggish. Many birthing centers offer prenatal exercise classes which may be worth checking out.

Alternative Therapies: Acupuncture and hypnosis can help relieve symptoms in some cases, and may help those experiencing pregnancy cravings.

Acupressure Wristband: Placed over the forearm (called the P6 point) may alleviate symptoms. Bands are available at most pharmacies and marine supply stores. Sold under brand names such as Sea Bands.

Anti-Nausea Drugs

If symptoms are severe enough and where hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) has been diagnosed, your obgyn may prescribe medication. Hospitalization with bed rest and IV fluids is a last resort and can sometimes be avoided by switching to a diet of clear liquids and bland food rich in carbohydrates.

Severe symptoms are considered: several episodes of vomiting a day, most days, during the first trimester of pregnancy. This may lead to dehydration, electrolyte disturbances, nutritional deficiencies and weight loss.

Although drugs are discouraged and few are considered completely safe during pregnancy, your healthcare provider will evaluate the situation against the potential pregnancy complications which may otherwise arise. Serotonin antagonists and cortisone/corticosteroids are the most commonly prescribed types of drugs used for treating HG - including Compazine, Tigan, Phenergan and Reglan. Unfortunately, despite treatment, hyperemesis gravidarum may still last throughout pregnancy, varying in severity.

Many women experience a range of pregnancy symptoms when expecting a baby, yet others seem to sail through without any side effects at all. The good news is, just because you experience something in one pregnancy, does not mean you automatically will in the next one.

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For more prenatal guidance, see the following:

Constipation in pregnancy
Back pain while pregnant
Stretch marks
Pregnancy varicose veins

Other topical areas of interest:

PUPPS rash: Third trimester itchy skin.
Waterbirths: Pros and cons.
Pregnancy books: Week by week guides.

Return to Homepage: Womens Health Advice

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