Morning Sickness

Health Writer

Morning sickness refers to feeling nauseas or vomiting during pregnancy. Although commonly referred to as "morning" sickness, it actually occurs at any time, but seems most prevalent in the morning hours.

Not all women experience nausea or vomiting but most do feel nauseas at some time during the first few months of pregnancy. About one third of all pregnant women have vomiting. Morning sickness can begin anywhere from the second to fourth week of pregnancy and is normally gone by between the 12th and 14th week of pregnancy. For a few women, morning sickness continues throughout the pregnancy.

Although the exact causes of morning sickness are not known, the rapid increase in hormones is considered the most probable reason. Low blood sugar levels, especially in the early part of pregnancy, may contribute to morning sickness.

Morning sickness does not harm either the mother or the fetus. However, if vomiting interferes with your ability to keep down fluids for more than 24 hours, you should contact your doctor.

The National Institute of Health suggests a woman should contact her doctor for the following reasons:

  • Morning sickness does not improve, even when home remedies are used.
  • Vomiting continues past the 4th month of pregnancy.
  • You have lost more than 2 pounds.
  • You have vomited more than 3 times in one day and cannot keep any liquids or foods down.
  • You are vomiting blood.
  • If vomiting is accompanied by pain or fever.

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe form of morning sickness. Women with hyperemesis gravidarum have extreme, persistent nausea and vomiting. This can cause dehydration and interfere with a woman's ability to gain weight. Because both of thee can be dangerous to the mother and the fetus, it is important to let your doctor know if nausea is keeping you from keeping food and fluids down. Medications to stop nausea or vomiting should not be taken unless it is first discussed with your doctor or health care provider.

Although morning sickness normally disappears after the first few months of pregnancy, there are a few ways that a woman can help to feel better. The American Pregnancy Association offers some suggestions:

  • Eat several small meals throughout the day instead of eating a few large meals. Do not skip meals.
  • Drink fluids ½ hour before or after meals but limit fluid intake during meals.
  • Sip on fluids throughout the day, increase fluid intake during times you are not feeling nauseas to avoid dehydration.
  • Keep soda crackers by your bed and eat several 15 minutes before getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Get plenty of rest. Take a nap in the afternoon.
  • Avoid places that are hot.
  • Avoid spicy foods.
  • Eat salty potato chips to help settle your stomach.
  • Avoid foods or smells that make you feel nauseas.
  • Drink lemonade or snack on watermelon to reduce nausea.
  • Sniff lemons or ginger to relieve nausea.
  • Do not lie down after eating.

Although suggestions can help to reduce nausea and help you feel better, remember that all of this should go away and you will feel better.

References:

"Morning Sickness", 2007, March, American Pregnancy Association

"Morning Sickness", 2008, Feb, Updated by Peter Chen, M.D., Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia

"Morning Sickness",Updated 2008, April, Familydoctor.org