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How to Cope with Morning Sickness

By Susan Peck, MSN, APN

How to Cope with Morning Sickness

Do you consider morning sickness is a pregnancy “rite of passage?” Here’s how to enjoy pregnancy when you’re not feeling well.

It’s no secret that nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is very common—and it can be morning-noon-and-night sickness that lasts the whole pregnancy!

Most pregnant women (50%–80%) experience nausea, and half experience vomiting. Maybe you take this as a good sign as some studies associate morning sickness with a healthy pregnancy—but that’s not always a comforting thought in the heat of the heaving.

Typically, nausea and vomiting in pregnancy isn’t dangerous for your baby. Even with the most extreme form of nausea and vomiting, as long as it’s treated early, most babies have no problems. However, some studies show that if a pregnant woman has hyperemesis gravidarum, her baby could be born earlier or may be smaller overall.

What Causes Morning Sickness?

It’s not exactly known, but the hormones hCG (the pregnancy hormone that makes pregnancy tests positive) and estrogen are said to trigger it. Stress doesn’t help, either. If your mother, sister or grandmother had morning sickness, you might, too.

How long does it last?

Nausea and vomiting can begin as early as 4 weeks of pregnancy; it usually peaks around 8 weeks. For most women, it subsides after the end of the 1st trimester (about 14 weeks). But for 10% of unlucky moms-to-be, it can last the whole pregnancy. Let your nurse or doctor know when you’re experiencing the symptoms; it may well begin before you have your first appointment.

How can I cope with morning sickness?

Avoid tastes or smells that may trigger your reaction. Try eating small, frequent meals and bland, dry foods and high-protein snacks. Ginger (in all forms) may help nausea.

Your healthcare provider may prescribe a medicine called Diclegis®. This is a Pregnancy Category A drug, which means it’s been studied in pregnant women with no increase in birth defects or pregnancy problems.

Could it be hyperemesis gravidarum?

If nothing relieves your symptoms and you aren’t able to even eat or drink, you may have hyperemesis gravidarum. Signs include severe nausea and vomiting several times a day, dehydration and dangerous weight loss.

This extreme form of morning sickness happens in up to 3% of pregnancies, but it’s the most common reason for hospitalization in early pregnancy. Women with twins or triplets or who have had hyperemesis gravidarum before and first-time mothers are more likely to have HG. Just like nausea and vomiting, hyperemesis gravidarum usually goes away after the 1st trimester but may continue for a very small number of pregnant women.

If you think you may have this extreme form, let your nurse know right away. You may need IV fluids and anti-vomiting medications.

Watch a video on what to do if morning sickness isn’t going away.

Susan Peck, MSN, APN, is an expert adviser to Healthy Mom&Baby.


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