Morning sickness, also known as pregnancy nausea and vomiting, is a common ailment. It affects roughly 70% of pregnancies and typically begins around week 6 of pregnancy and lasts for weeks or months.
During the second trimester, symptoms usually improve (weeks 13 to 27; the middle 3 months of pregnancy). Some pregnant women experience hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness.
This occurs when a woman's severe nausea and vomiting cause dehydration or a loss of more than 5% of her pregnancy body weight.
Morning sickness is caused by a variety of factors that are still unknown. Hormonal changes, on the other hand, may play a significant role.
Estrogen levels are high
Morning sickness may be caused by high levels of the hormone estrogen circulating in the body.
Levels of progesterone
When a woman becomes pregnant, her progesterone levels rise as well. To prevent early childbirth, this relaxes the muscles of the uterus or womb.
It may, however, relax the stomach and intestines, resulting in an excess of stomach acid and acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)
The hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) levels rise as well, which can lead to vomiting. This hormone is produced by the developing embryo shortly after conception.
Around weeks 9–12 of pregnancy, hCG levels peak, and nausea and vomiting may also peak at this time. While many studies have found a link between increased hCG and nausea and vomiting, the hormone's exact role in morning sickness remains unknown.
During pregnancy, a woman's sense of smell may become more acute. This can cause nausea and vomiting by overstimulating the body's natural nausea triggers.
Factors that are at risk
Morning sickness can affect anyone pregnant, but it's more likely if:
- Before becoming pregnant, you experienced nausea or vomiting as a result of motion sickness, migraines, certain smells or tastes, or estrogen exposure (from birth control pills, for example).
- Morning sickness was a problem for you during a previous pregnancy.
If you're pregnant with a girl, have a family history of hyperemesis gravidarum, or have previously experienced hyperemesis gravidarum, you're more likely to develop hyperemesis gravidarum.
- Mild nausea and vomiting during pregnancy usually don't cause any problems for you or your baby.
- If left untreated, severe nausea and vomiting can result in dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, decreased urination, and hospitalization. The evidence on whether hyperemesis gravidarum causes your baby to gain too little weight during pregnancy is mixed.
- If your morning sickness symptoms persist, your doctor may prescribe vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) supplements, ginger, or over-the-counter medications like doxylamine (Unisom). If your nausea persists, your doctor may prescribe an anti-nausea medication.
- Pregnancy nausea and vomiting, ranging from mild to severe, can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, such as sodium or potassium. For moderate to severe morning sickness, extra fluids and prescription medications are recommended.
- Your doctor will inquire about the frequency of your nausea, the number of times you've vomited, your ability to keep fluids down, and whether you've tried any home remedies. For nausea and vomiting, several prescription medications are safe to take during pregnancy. Based on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor will recommend a safe option.
Lifestyle and home remedies
- Carefully select foods to help alleviate morning sickness. Avoid greasy, spicy, and fatty foods in favor of foods that are high in protein, low in fat, and easy to digest.
Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast are examples of bland foods that are easy to digest. Salty foods, as well as foods containing ginger, such as ginger lollipops, can be beneficial.
- Snack frequently. Eat a few soda crackers or a piece of dry toast before getting out of bed in the morning. To keep your stomach from becoming too full, nibble throughout the day rather than eating three large meals. Furthermore, nausea can be exacerbated by an empty stomach.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Drink ginger ale or water.
- Pay attention to the things that make you feel sick. Avoid foods and scents that make you feel sick.
- Take a deep breath of fresh air. Open the windows in your home or office if the weather permits.
- Be cautious when taking prenatal vitamins. If taking prenatal vitamins makes you feel nauseous, take them with a snack or right before bed. If these steps don't work, talk to your doctor about other options for getting the iron and vitamins you need while pregnant.
- After vomiting, rinse your mouth. The acid in your stomach can wear away at your teeth' enamel. Rinse your mouth with a cup of water and a teaspoon of baking soda if possible. This will aid in the neutralization of the acid and the protection of your teeth.