What is morning sickness?
Nausea during pregnancy is often referred to as morning sickness since it often seems most severe first thing after awakening but may occur at any time during the day. The specific cause for morning sickness is not known, but many suspect that it is related to the rising level of pregnancy hormone in the blood stream that occurs early in pregnancy. Pregnant women may experience varying degrees of morning sickness which for some may be limited to a loss of appetite and mild nausea, while others seem to struggle with frequent vomiting and even dehydration.
How long will my morning sickness last?
Although your symptoms may seem most severe between six to nine weeks, many women feel that their nausea starts to improve after ten to twelve weeks and often resolves by fourteen to sixteen weeks. Occasionally, for a few unfortunate patients the feelings of morning sickness may continue later into pregnancy.
Things you can do to help with morning sickness.
Keep some crackers and water by the side of your bed so that you can nibble on a few crackers first thing in the morning before getting up and starting your day. Remember that endeavoring to eat normal portions may make your nausea worse, so eating frequent but small portions eight to nine times a day may prove to be easier on your stomach.
Food choices are also important. Fatty foods or foods with strong flavors, spices or odors will often make your morning sickness worse. Bland carbohydrates, such as graham crackers or dried sweetened cereals, may be easier to tolerate and less prone to aggravate your nausea.
Regardless of what food choices you are able to tolerate, always remember the importance of staying well hydrated. Continuously sipping on a glass of clear liquids such as sprite, apple juice or sports drinks will help to avoid dehydration during these first weeks of pregnancy. Avoid fruits juices that are strongly acidic such as orange juice since these will irritate your stomach and can make your nausea worse.
In addition to being careful with what you eat or drink, avoid trying to brush your teeth right after eating since this may exacerbate your gag reflex and cause you to be sick. Lastly, remember to change position slowly such as arising from a chair or getting out of bed, since sudden movements may worsen your nausea.
When should I call my doctor?
Since prolonged vomiting may lead to dehydration, if you cannot keep anything down for more than 24 hours, experience light-headedness or fainting, produce only small amounts of dark urine, or if you throw up bloody fluid, you should notify your doctor’s office. Intravenous fluids and medication may be indicated for patients with severe nausea, vomiting and evidence of dehydration, often referred to as hyperemesis gravidarum.
Morning sickness can sometimes be confused with other health concerns that can also complicate pregnancy. If you are experiencing nausea or vomiting in combination with symptoms that are not usually associated with pregnancy, such as severe headaches, fever, diarrhea, severe abdominal or pelvic pain, burning with urination or kidney pain, you should contact your physician’s office to be evaluated for these complaints.
Contact your doctor if you:
- Cannot even keep down liquids
- Vomit bloody fluid
- Are rapidly losing weight
- Experience light-headedness or fainting
- Urinate only small amounts of dark urine
- Have a rapid heartbeat above 100 beats per minute