Nausea and vomiting are common complaints during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. This is often called "morning sickness," although it can occur at any time of the day. Most cases of nausea and vomiting are not harmful. But when nausea and vomiting are severe and persist, they can affect your health. Morning sickness is very real and very different for every woman. Don't ignore it, or wait until you're desperate to seek help. Stay in contact with your provider.
WHAT CAUSES NAUSEA?
While you are pregnant, nausea and vomiting can occur as your body goes through many changes. Although no one is certain what causes the nausea and vomiting, rising levels of hormones during pregnancy may play a role. In most women, symptoms of nausea and vomiting are mild and go away after the middle of the pregnancy. But some cases of nausea and vomiting are severe and can lead to loss of weight and body fluids. Having morning sickness does not mean you are unhealthy. In fact, doctors estimate that between 50 and 90% of women experience some degree of morning sickness as part of their normal, healthy pregnancies.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Until the nausea and vomiting go away, there are some things you can do that might help you feel better:
- Get up slowly in the morning and sit on the side of the bed for a few minutes.
- Eat dry toast or crackers before you get out of bed.
- Get plenty of fresh air. Take a short walk or try sleeping with a window open.
- Suck on a piece of hard candy.
- 100 milligrams of Vitamin B6 (over-the-counter) in the morning and 100 milligrams at bedtime along with 1/2 tablet of Unisom (over-the-counter) at bedtime, may help.
- Ginger may help calm your stomach. Try ginger snaps, ginger cookies, or ginger tea. Teas made with red raspberry, lemon, spearmint, peach or chamomile may also help your upset stomach.
- Saliva often seems to make nausea worse. Instead of swallowing your saliva, carry a washcloth with you and spit into it. Tart food and drinks like lemon drops or lemonade sometimes help.
- Drink fluids often during the day especially when your stomach is queasy but not while you eat food. Sip liquid slowly or thru a straw. Herbal teas and cold drinks that are bubbly or sweet may help or add fresh lemon to your water.
- Liquid will help keep you hydrated and avoid constipation. Watermelon is also a great way to keep you hydrated. Also try broth, clear juice, 7-up, gatorade or cola.
- Eat five or six small meals each day. Try not to let your stomach get empty, sit upright after meals, and rest for awhile.
- Delay brushing your teeth first thing in the morning if you find that it makes you sick. Instead, wait to brush until your stomach feels more settled later in the day.
- Prenatal vitamins and iron may cause nausea, especially when taken during the day. Try taking your vitamins with food at the end of the day - or switch to a children's chewable vitamin with folic acid.
- Slow down and allow for rest periods during your day. Don't try to maintain the same schedule or level of activity as you did before your pregnancy. Rest when you can in a cool, dark, quiet room with plenty of fresh air.
- Try wearing motion sickness bands, which work by applying pressure at a special point in your wrist. You can buy these bands at most pharmacies.
If your nausea and vomiting are severe, you may need medical treatment. If you are dehydrated, your provider can give you fluids through an intravenous line (in the office), if necessary. You also may be treated with anti-nausea medications.
Call Your Provider If:
- You have a small amount of urine and it is dark in color
- You can't keep liquids down for more than 12 hours
- You are dizzy or faint on standing up
- You have a racing or pounding heart
- You vomit blood