How to Survive Morning Sickness

If you are pregnant and struggling with nausea and vomiting, also known as morning sickness, you are not alone.  According to the Cleveland Clinic, 70% of all pregnant women experience morning sickness during pregnancy.

No one really knows what causes morning sickness, but it is thought that hormones (hCG or estrogen) are the culprit. Things like stress, sensitivity to certain foods or smells, and motion sickness can also cause nausea and vomiting. And despite the name, morning sickness doesn’t always just occur in the morning. Often, it will begin in the morning and last all day. Morning sickness can start as early as 6 weeks and can last throughout the entire first trimester (12 weeks). Sometimes it can even last throughout the entire pregnancy. 

While this isn’t great news, here are some things you can try that might help alleviate your morning sickness:

  • Eat 5 to 6 small meals a day instead of 3 large meals
  • Drink fluids between meals (not with meals) and avoid drinks high in caffeine
  • Suck on peppermints or ginger candies 
  • Avoid spicy or fatty foods
  • Eat bland foods, such as crackers, toast, bananas, eggs, or rice
  • Drink hot tea with ginger, peppermint, or lemon
  • Avoid foods or odors that trigger nausea and vomiting 
  • If prenatal vitamins are the cause, consider taking them with a small snack or at bedtime

If these home remedies don’t help to alleviate your morning sickness, you can talk with your doctor about medications that are safe to take during pregnancy. Your doctor might recommend taking an over the counter vitamin B-6 supplement. Other medications might include antiemetics (such as Zofran or Phenergan), antihistamines, or anticholinergics. You will need a prescription for these medications.  These medications can sometimes make you feel more sleepy, but taking them in the evening often helps with that. 

It is important to note that although morning sickness is a common symptom of pregnancy, severe nausea and vomiting are not.  Hyperemesis gravidarum is an uncommon disorder, which in extreme cases causes persistent nausea and vomiting occur during pregnancy.

This can lead to dehydration, which can be dangerous for a pregnant woman and her unborn child. Symptoms might include: vomiting 3 or more times a day, weight loss of 10 pounds or more, increased heart rate, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, an inability to keep food or fluids down, and dehydration.  If you are experiencing these symptoms, please contact your doctor. 

Some of the recommended treatments are the same as that for typical morning sickness, such as eating small frequent or bland meals, taking medication, etc. However, if a pregnant woman becomes dehydrated due to hyperemesis she may need to be hospitalized and given IV fluids. Severe or untreated dehydration in pregnancy can lead to neural tube defects, low amniotic fluids, inadequate milk production and even premature labor. 

While morning sickness can range in severity and affects women differently, the good news is that it doesn’t last forever!  Your body is working hard to give your baby all of that it needs to grow and develop properly.  For more information and ideas about what to eat and what to avoid during your pregnancy, check out our blog posts: Eating for Two and Five Things to Avoid While Pregnant.

 

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