Morning sickness refers to nausea and vomiting and affects a large population of pregnant women during their first trimester. It generally occurs from the 4th to the 12th or 14th week of pregnancy, but some women may experience it during their entire pregnancy. Morning sickness is not harmful for the unborn child, but severe cases are called hyperemesis gravidarum and may even require hospitalisation.
The cause of morning sickness is unknown, but many metabolic and physical factors have a role to play.
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy (high oestrogen levels)
- Blood pressure fluctuations (low blood pressure)
- Change in the metabolism of carbohydrates
- Chemical and physical changes
- Traveling, fatigue, emotional stress, and some foods
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of morning sickness include:
- Loss of appetite
- Depression and anxiety
Your doctor will diagnose morning sickness based on the signs and symptoms you experience. If hyperemesis gravidarum is suspected, urine and blood tests will be suggested. An ultrasound may also be ordered to detect other underlying causes of nausea and determine the number of fetuses.
Most cases of morning sickness do not require treatment, however, your doctor may prescribe vitamin B-6 supplements and anti-nausea medications for severe cases. Hyperemesis gravidarum may require hospitalisation and treatment with anti-nausea medications and intravenous fluids.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Lifestyle and home remedies may be helpful in relieving morning sickness in some women.
- Choose your food carefully. You should eat more carbohydrate rich, easily digestible foods. Salty food or food containing ginger may be helpful at times. Snack at regular intervals throughout the day instead of having large meals. Eating a few plain sweet biscuits or dry crackers after waking up may help reduce the nauseous feeling. Avoid food that triggers nausea or makes it worst, like greasy and spicy food.
- Consume plenty of fluids. Keep sipping ginger flavoured drinks or water frequently. Sucking on ice cubes or hard candy may be beneficial.
- Take walks and try and get plenty of fresh air.
Morning sickness can be reduced to a certain extent with prenatal vitamins taken before conception.