One of the most common symptoms of pregnancy is nausea and vomiting, and it is often the very first sign a woman gets that she is pregnant. It is most frequently experienced in the initial three months of pregnancy, and in the majority of cases it is unpleasant but manageable.
Pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting is often referred to as “morning sickness,” but that is a misnomer since it is neither contained to the morning, nor is it a sickness. A better understanding of why these symptoms occur in pregnancy often helps women cope more effectively with the resulting discomfort.
What Causes Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy?
Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is not usually a sign of illness and it is not harmful to the baby. It is a normal, if uncomfortable, physical response to the many changes the body endures in order to support a pregnancy.
Around 80 percent of all pregnant women suffer from some degree of nausea and/or vomiting during their pregnancies, and the cause is thought to be related to a hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG). The body begins producing HCG at conception and it plays a crucial role in facilitating healthy fetal growth and the successful progression of a pregnancy.
In most cases, pregnancy-related symptoms of nausea and vomiting are mild and they decrease as hormone levels change near the end of the first trimester. However, there is no reason women should suffer unnecessarily. There are many effective methods that can help women manage nausea and vomiting symptoms safely.
Managing Nausea, Queasiness & Vomiting Symptoms
In an effort to cope with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, it is useful to articulate what triggers the symptoms. For instance, many women are more sensitive to particular smells during pregnancy or experience sudden aversions to flavors. If queasiness is caused by certain odors or foods, it is best to avoid them. However, if eating anything at all induces sickness, try to consume smaller portions or snacks several times throughout the day instead of the traditional three larger main meals. Smaller and more frequent meals are often easier to digest and keep down, and it is always best to avoid heavy dishes and rich, greasy, or highly processed foods, but it is especially helpful if trying to manage nausea.
Maintaining adequate hydration has many benefits during pregnancy and it can also suppress feelings of nausea and vomiting. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink 10 cups of liquid a day, or about two and half liters. In addition to easing the nausea itself, staying hydrated also helps to prevent other pregnancy symptoms such a headaches or cramping that can make nausea symptoms worse.
Morning Sickness Remedies
There are many remedies women can try that may help to further allay feelings of nausea and vomiting. Smelling or ingesting lemons or ginger in herbal tea or hot water can mitigate queasiness, as can sucking on peppermint candy or wearing motion sickness acupressure wrist bands. Some studies have also indicated that acupuncture is a useful method for coping with nausea and vomiting.
Another option for dealing with nausea is to take 50 milligrams of vitamin B6 up to three times per day. However, if taking vitamins of any kind, including prenatal vitamins, increases queasiness or vomiting, do not stop taking them outright. Prenatal vitamins are a very important part of a healthy pregnancy. To alleviate nausea or vomiting caused by swallowing pills, try to take them at night right before bed and always avoid taking vitamins on an empty stomach.
Severe Sickness During Pregnancy
In less common instances, nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is severe to the point of becoming physically debilitating. This condition is called Hyperemesis Gravidarum and it can cause exhaustion, weight loss, extreme dehydration, and an electrolyte imbalance. Women who suffer from Hyperemesis Gravidarum may have to go to the hospital for intravenous (IV) fluids. In such acute cases of nausea and vomiting, doctors may prescribe medications to help manage symptoms and protect the health of the mother and baby.
You Will Get Through This
Nausea and vomiting can be a very unpleasant part of pregnancy, but it is helpful to remember that in the vast majority of cases, the queasy feelings are normal, manageable, and temporary. Women should discuss their symptoms with their obstetricians so that they can enjoy every stage of pregnancy while remaining comfortable and productive in daily life.