You’ve just heard those words that you have been hoping for. You are pregnant! Not only are you over the moon with joy, but you may be experiencing a queasy stomach. Morning sickness or sickness caused by pregnancy is quite common (about 50% of pregnant women). It can cause you to feel poorly and disrupt your everyday life.
Some women experience a more severe type of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum that does require medical attention. We will discuss this in more detail later in this article.
What is Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness is characterized by nausea with or without vomiting experienced during pregnancy. Even though it’s called “morning” sickness, it can be experienced at any time of the day. It typically begins at about six weeks of pregnancy and goes away by the second trimester, but not always. Some women, unfortunately, experience it for the entire term of their pregnancy.
What Causes it?
The exact cause of it is unknown. However, certain factors may be contributors:
- Low blood sugar
- Lack of sleep
- Motion sickness
Preventing and Treating Morning Sickness
While you may be unable to entirely prevent morning sickness, that are some things that you can do to help treat the symptoms and decrease your likelihood of developing it. This includes:
- Taking a prenatal vitamin prior to conceiving can reduce symptoms.
- Drink plenty of water, a small amount at a time.
- Track what you eat and make notes of certain foods that seem to trigger sickness more than others
- Avoid smells that may trigger symptoms.
- Eat foods containing ginger, or sip on ginger tea.
- Avoid napping or sleeping right after eating.
- Adjust meal times and size – take in less at a time, and eat something every 1-2 hours.
- If morning symptoms are significant – have a few bites of saltine crackers before you even get out of bed.
- Smelling a fresh-cut lemon can help reduce waves of nausea.
- Make sleep a priority.
- Consider using Sea Bands (anti-nausea bands) available at your pharmacy.
- If needed, over-the-counter medications can be beneficial: take Vitamin B6 25mg three times per day and Unisom at bedtime.
When to Seek Treatment
As we mentioned above, there are rare instances where pregnant women may become excessively ill and need to seek medical treatment. Symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum include:
- Weight loss
- Vomiting 3-4 times daily
- Feelings of dizziness and lightheadedness
- Excessive saliva production
- Headaches and constipation – caused by dehydration
- Extremely heightened sense of smell
This extreme type of morning sickness will rarely harm your baby. However, we recommend seeing your physician to determine the best treatment options.