Managing Morning Sickness
One of the least pleasant parts of pregnancy, morning sickness is somewhat misleadingly named, as it’s often an issue at any time of day. As many as three quarters of pregnant women have the nausea or vomiting symptoms we call morning sickness -- also known as “nausea and vomiting of pregnancy”, or NVP -- and for most it’s at its worst from about 4 to 14 weeks into pregnancy.
What Causes Morning Sickness With all of the physical changes taking place in your body during pregnancy, doctors aren’t sure what the exact cause of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is. It’s likely to involve a combination of factors, which explains why not every woman is affected to the same degree. Some of the most likely causes include the surge of hCG and estrogen hormones in early pregnancy, stress, and sensitivity to smells that can trigger even an iron-stomached gag reflex.
How Can I Manage Symptoms
For women who are trying to work or parent during the early stages of pregnancy, nausea and vomiting can make even the simplest of tasks feel monumental. Because every woman and her potential causes of morning sickness,is different, it may take time to figure out which of these methods works best for you:
If you’re sensitive to smells, hot food is usually the worst offender. Try to make as many of your meals include cold or room temperature food, and get rid of anything that overwhelms your smell receptors.
Instead of filling your stomach and then letting it empty completely, eat several small meals or snacks throughout the day, and ingest them as slowly as possible.
Try to remain upright after eating, as lying down or napping can slow the digestion process.
Avoid popping out of bed in the morning with an empty stomach by keeping simple snacks (like crackers or rice cakes) on your bedside table.
Keep up your fluid intake between meals, and consider adding in a sports drink to replace lost electrolytes if you’ve been vomiting frequently.
Get fresh air by taking a walk or opening a window if you feel too nauseated to leave the house.
After eating, brush your teeth and rinse your mouth to eliminate lingering tastes that may trigger nausea later on.
Many people report ginger as being helpful with managing feelings of nausea, and you can incorporate this into hot drinks like tea, or cold carbonated ginger ale.
What About Medication If these non-medical options aren’t providing you with relief and your symptoms are interfering with your daily life, it’s a good idea to talk to your health care provider about medication options. There are a variety of antihistamines and prescription nausea medications that are considered safe to take during pregnancy, and can make a world of difference during this often trying time.
For some women, nausea and vomiting are so persistent during pregnancy that they are unable to keep any food down. This condition is called hyperemesis gravidarum, and can cause dehydration and weight loss as a result of vomiting multiple times every day. If you think you may be suffering from this condition, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible, as hospitalization and IV fluids are part of the typical treatment course.
For many women, morning sickness is among the most inconvenient side effects of early pregnancy. Try to pay attention to what your body needs (or doesn’t need) during this time, and don’t hesitate to contact your health care provider if you’re concerned what you’re experiencing is more than routine morning sickness.