Pregnancy Morning Sickness Demystified! Here Is Everything you should know about Nausea.

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Pregnancy morning sickness describes the typical nausea, which is a hallmark symptom of pregnancy. It’s reported as a wave of nausea commonly felt early in the morning, thus the name “morning sickness” even though it can hit a pregnant woman any time of the day.

More than 75% pregnant women experience morning sickness while about 25% pregnant moms are lucky enough to escape this queasy symptom.

Pregnancy morning sickness usually commences in the first trimester especially from pregnancy week 5. Moreover, it can happen earlier, around pregnancy week 4, and gets worse until the beginning of second trimester.

Almost half of expecting moms who experience nausea during pregnancy feel relieved by pregnancy week 14. However, there are a few instances of expecting moms with morning sickness throughout pregnancy.

What causes pregnancy morning sickness?

The primary cause of morning sickness during pregnancy is the biochemical changes that take place in a pregnant woman’s body as a result of certain pregnancy hormones. Some of the notable biochemical hormonal changes include:  

  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG):

The rise in the levels of the hormone gonadotropin during the early months of pregnancy is a primary cause of morning sickness during pregnancy.

It's quite surprising how this hormone, released by the placenta, contributes to nausea but an observed increase of its levels in the blood has been generally traced to increased severity of morning sickness.

Expecting moms carrying multiples are at elevated risk of developing more severe nausea and vomiting because multiple placentas release more pregnancy hCG.

  • Estrogen:

Estrogen levels surge drastically in the initial stage of pregnancy and so it’s believed to be one of the causative factors for nausea/morning sickness.

  • Enhanced sense of smell and sensitivity to odors:

This condition is commonly found in newly pregnant moms who feel overwhelmed by a sensitive sense of smell. In addition, morning sickness may become worse by gastrointestinal upset in case of moms with sensitive digestive systems.

What are likely complications of untreated morning sickness in mom and her baby?

Generally, mild to moderate morning sickness is harmless to you and your baby. However, severe nausea with prolonged vomiting may lead to increased risks of weight loss, dehydration, babies with low birth weight and small-sized.

When should I see my doctor on morning sickness?

  • Consult your doctor if you are experiencing severe nausea and vomiting or if you are developing signs of dehydration (if your urine is dark or if you’re passing extremely little amounts of urine).
  • Immediately report to your healthcare provider if your vomit contains blood and if you’re developing fever, abdominal pain or feeling weak.

About 1 in 200 pregnancies suffer from excessive vomiting during pregnancy, degenerating into a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. This is a serious condition that will require immediate diagnosis and treatment such as intravenous medications to avoid complication.

Why should you take your morning sickness seriously?

Morning sickness is a trivial symptom in most expecting moms. However, if an expecting mom is feeling recurrent and severe bouts of nausea or vomiting and diarrhea, to the extent of being unable to continue her normal daily nutrition, it may complicate her pregnancy.

Untreated and poorly managed severe morning sickness may lead to complications such as:

  • Dehydration: Dehydration alone may lead to low blood pressure and inadequate perfusion to the developing baby. In moderate or long-standing cases, it may lead to growth restriction, low birth weight and in severe cases; it may lead to fetal demise.
  • Weight loss is another common result of untreated morning sickness. When morning sickness degenerates into a situation pregnant woman is unable to feed properly, resulting malnutrition may cause complication in the baby.

Healthy tips to relieve your pregnancy morning sickness

Let us look at the possible remedies and measures you can take to sufficiently alleviate a mild case of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. The suggested remedies to minimize morning sickness include:

-          Instead of eating one big meal at a time, divide your meal in multiple small portions to avoid over-stuffing your stomach. Eat light foods, early, frequently and well. In the same vein, ensure you drink adequate fluids to keep you hydrated and compensate for any fluid loss.

 -           Moms like to take carbohydrates during pregnancy and carbs’ digestion could be generally queasy and so, eat only easy-to-digest carbohydrates. Avoid foods that are hard to digest such as cabbage, spinach, among others. Same is true for fried, fatty, spicy and greasy meals.

 -          Keep snacks by your bedside such as crackers. Crackers are light and help in relieving hunger without evoking any sense of heaviness before getting out of bed in the morning.

-          In case of saliva accumulation in your mouth, sucking lemon drop candies or taking ginger in the form of tea or tablets has been reported to be helpful for some moms.

 -          Make sure to identify and avoid triggers of nausea or vomiting that are peculiar to you. It may be a certain food or fragrance of a strong perfume, a warm, musty, overcrowded or stuffy place, a smelly taxicab ride or even the flickering of lights.

-          If you suffer morning sickness, lying down for about 20 minutes after each meal has been suggested as a helpful technique to prevent nausea.

 -          If you’re less than 6 weeks pregnant and prenatal multivitamin are making your morning sickness worse, you can take folic acid supplement rather than prenatal vitamin.

Compared to multivitamins, folic acid is less likely to upset your stomach and good for you in early pregnancy at the same time.

If you continue to feel nauseous despite dietary modifications, physical therapy or other alternative non-medication treatments such as acupuncture or acupressure wristbands, consult your doctor for possible medical help.

Though there are no approved medications to treat morning sickness, doctors usually suggest supplemental doses of vitamin B6. The mode of action of vitamin B6 in relieving nausea is not clear but in most pregnant women it provides relief.

The usual dose given to treat pregnancy morning sickness is 10-25mg thrice a day. Don’t take vitamin B6 more than you are recommended. If vitamin B6 fails to provide any relief, you can use other pharmacologic interventions with the prescription of your doctor.

Ensure you take multivitamins at the time of conception and folic during early pregnancy, it might be helpful. However, don’t take any medication without checking with your healthcare provider.

Pregnancy morning sickness is normal and can be managed as long as you know the appropriate steps to take.

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