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Morning Sickness - How to Feel Better

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Tips to Try to Feel Better

Morning sickness is common in early pregnancy. Tips to try to feel better.
  • Eating as soon as you have the sensation of being hungry, or even before you feel hungry

  • Snack frequently and try eating small meals. The easiest foods to eat are foods that have lots of protein or carbohydrates, but not a lot of fat. Crackers, bread, and low-fat yogurt are good choices. Try to avoid spicy foods.

  • Drinking cold, beverages that are clear and either fizzy or sour. Lemonade and ginger ale are good choices.

  • Eating lollipops that are ginger flavored

  • Smelling fresh lemon, mint, or orange

  • Brushing your teeth as soon as you finish eating

  • Don't lie down right after you eat

  • Only take your vitamins at bedtime with a small snack, instead of the morning

  • Avoiding things that make you feel nauseous. That might include stuffy rooms, and strong smells.

There are also wrist bands that you can wear called "acupressure" bands. The acupressure bands are supposed to reduce morning sickness.

What Causes Morning Sickness?

Morning sickness is not always a fair description of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, because it is hardly an exclusively morning experience.

It is especially common during the first part of pregnancy. There is no clear consensus within the medical community on what causes morning sickness. This unpleasant symptom has been associated with many varied conditions but increasing levels of hormones during pregnancy does play a role.

  • Hormones - The elevated pregnancy hormones, estrogen and progesterone, are thought to cause nausea and vomiting. Morning sickness is seen frequently in pregnancy with multiples (twins or more), due to the higher level of pregnancy hormones in twin gestation than a single pregnancy.

  • Decreased Gastric Motility - The food sits in your stomach and does not empty causing a burning sensation (indigestion)and pressure.

  • Conversion reaction - You may have hesitancy about your pregnancy and instead of voicing your feelings; you convert your feelings into severe vomiting.

What are the Symptoms of Morning Sickness?

Nausea, gagging, vomiting, aversion to food - if you're feeling these things on a regular basis, you have morning sickness. Mild cases of nausea and vomiting do not harm your baby. It will eventually end and you will be able to eat and feel better soon. Most women wake up sometime around their fourteenth week and realize that their nausea has gone.

If your nausea and vomiting become severe: and you are losing weight and not able to keep any foods or fluids down, call your doctor. You need to be evaluated for a condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum that requires a stay in the hospital.

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Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Nausea and vomiting that is normally seen in early pregnancy varies in its severity. When it becomes severe, it is called "Hyperemesis Gravidarum." Frequent vomiting can lead to dehydration requiring hospitalization.

When Should I Call my Physician?

When morning sickness is mild, you do not need to see your doctor until your scheduled appointment, but you should definitely be seen if any of the following symptoms occur along with your vomiting:

  • Decrease frequency of urination

  • Dark colored urine

  • Dizziness when you standup

  • Constant vomiting during the day

  • If blood is seen in your emesis (vomit)

  • Associated lower or upper abdominal pain

  • Cramping and/or pelvic pain

  • You are not able to hold any liquids down

  • Fever

  • Diarrhea or constipation

Are There any Treatments to Stop Severe Vomiting (Hyperemesis Gravidarum)?

The treatment of severe vomiting in pregnancy is aimed at keeping you from becoming dehydrated. There is no treatment available to completely eliminate your symptoms, but we can make you feel more at ease. Fortunately by your second trimester your nausea and vomiting will subside and you will be feeling better. With or without treatment, all of your symptoms will resolve.

If you are not able to keep any food or liquids down, you should let your physician know. Your physician most likely will put you in the hospital and run a few tests. In the hospital an intravenous (IV) line will be placed in your arm to replace your lost fluid and electrolytes.

Initially, you will not be allowed to eat or drink anything. This will allow your stomach to rest. You will slowly be started back on food and drinks in about 24 to 48 hours. Your diet most likely will consist of high carbohydrate meals such as dry cereal. Your drinks will be carbonated, clear lemon tasting drinks such as 7-up, ginger ale or Sun Drop.

With severe forms of vomiting that do not respond to IV hydration and if you continuously lose weight, you may be started on parental feedings (feedings through your veins).

I am Worried that I Will Not Gain Enough Weight with all this Vomiting?

Almost all pregnant women that had severe vomiting in pregnancy will recover completely and gain adequate weight. But, it has been shown that you will probably not gain as much weight as others. This is not a problem for your baby unless you were 10% underweight before your pregnancy. If you were overweight before pregnancy, it is less of an issue if you don’t gain the average amount of weight. The normal weight gain for pregnancy depends on your pre-pregnancy weight but on the average a woman will gain 25 to 35 pounds.

If you had to be re-admitted to the hospital multiple times for severe vomiting and did not gain the normal amount of weight, there is a small chance your baby will be smaller than normal. If you had severe vomiting during this pregnancy, there is a 15 to 20% chance that you will experience this during your next pregnancy.

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