Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, jointly known as “morning sickness,” affect approximately 80 percent of all pregnant women. Morning sickness usually begins around the sixth week of pregnancy. Although common in the morning, it can happen almost any time of the day. The majority of women will start feeling much better by the 12th week of pregnancy. Some women will continue to suffer for longer than 12 weeks, and some of these will feel its effects for the duration of their pregnancy.
About 1 percent of pregnant women will experience excessive nausea and vomiting (hyperemesis gravidarum). This condition can cause weight loss, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance. It is usually treated with Reglan, Zofran, or Phenergan, all Class B medications that are safe if needed in pregnancy. In some cases, hyperemesis gravidarum is so severe that hospitalization is required. Intravenous fluids are usually administered to restore hydration, electrolytes, vitamins, and nutrients.
If the above medications are not working in pill form and you would prefer not to be admitted to the hospital, the use of Reglan and Zofran can be administered at home through a micro-infusion pump. Receiving these medications in this manner can be more effective in certain patients that do not get relief from using these drugs in pill form.
The exact cause of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy remains unknown. The most widely accepted reason is from the buildup of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) in your body. This is the hormone produced after the embryo implants, which will level off by the second trimester. Estrogen is another hormone that rises rapidly in pregnancy and could play a role. Some women may have an underlying gastric condition, such as gallstones or small bowel disease, that is exacerbated when pregnant.
Whatever the reason, morning sickness isn’t harmful to your pregnancy but can be quite an uncomfortable side effect of it.
Steps to try to make the experience more manageable:
Eat small, frequent meals during the day so that your stomach is never empty.
Avoid fatty foods, which are harder to digest.
Stay away from spicy, fried foods and acidic foods that can irritate your stomach.
Do not lie down right after a meal. Give yourself some time to digest.
Munch on crackers throughout the day.
Eat starchy foods, such as pasta, rice, or potatoes.
Take your prenatal vitamin with food.
Ginger-this remedy is thought to help settle your stomach and ease nausea.
Try acupuncture bands or the Relief Wrist Band.
Take 100 mg of vitamin B6 each day.
Be sure to rest or nap during the day.
You should always try non-medicinal remedies first. If nothing you have tried has worked, talk with your healthcare provider about over-the-counter remedies and medications that can be prescribed.
NEXT: What Do Those hCG Levels Mean?