If you find out you’re pregnant via an at-home pregnancy test, your next move is to consult an obstetrician-gynecologist to confirm your pregnancy. One of the first things the doctor will ask is if you are experiencing pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness.
Nausea and vomiting are one of the first signs of pregnancy. It typically starts on Week 6 and typically ends after Week 12, but it can extend up to Week 16 to Week 20. While it’s called “morning” sickness, some pregnant women can have bouts of nausea and vomiting at any time of the day. Some swear they get the ‘morning’ sickness all day and night.
Why do pregnant women get morning sickness
The exact reasons for morning sickness are unknown. Many experts link it to the increase of pregnancy hormones in the woman’s body. Morning sickness manifests at around the same time the embryo implants itself in the uterus, which signals the brain to produce human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), or the hormone detected by home pregnancy home tests.
Not all pregnant women experience morning sickness, so you cannot take it as a measure of your pregnancy’s health. No pregnancy is the same — your first can be different from your second or third.
Your risk of morning sickness
It’s difficult to predict if a pregnant woman will or will not experience morning sickness. A woman who didn’t have it during her first pregnancy may have it in her second but less likely the other way around, according to the U.K. National Health Service (NHS). Here are the possible factors that may put a pregnant woman more at risk of having morning sickness:
- She is carrying multiples
- She had severe nausea and vomiting in a previous pregnancy
- She tends to get motion sickness (for example, car sick)
- She has a history of migraine headaches
- The women in her family has a medical history of morning sickness
- She used to feel sick when taking contraceptives containing estrogen
Ways to ease morning sickness
Morning sickness is not harmful to your unborn baby, but it will bring you discomfort. It can be triggered by certain odors (as preggos have a heightened sense of smell), spicy foods, heat, or excess salivation. But don’t be surprised if you have no triggers at all. The following can help you cope with your morning sickness.
1. Go for bland foods.
Bland foods are easier to digest. Try peanut butter on apple slices, or munch on celery, nuts, cheese, and crackers. Low-fat dairy products like milk, cottage cheese, and yogurt also help. Gelatin, frozen desserts, broth, and saltine crackers also soothe the stomach. Avoid foods that are high in fat and salt.
2. Eat small meals.
Instead of eating three full meals and two snacks, eat small meals every one to two hours. Try to anticipate your hunger and eat before you get hungry. Also, don’t let yourself get too hungry or too full. Eating cold meals rather than hot ones make you feel sick can help as well.
3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Drink plenty of liquids. Water is your best bet, but seltzer and sparkling water may help control symptoms as well. Also, try to drink after every meal as opposed to drinking while eating.
4. Try vitamin B supplement.
Studies have shown that the B Complex vitamins, such as vitamin B1, B6, and B12, may be effective in helping curb morning sickness. Because these are water-soluble vitamins, there is also no harm of toxicity or harmful effect on the baby.
5. Ginger can help.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends ginger in any form — grounded ginger made into tea or capsules are the two best options — to ease the symptoms of morning sickness. Ginger promotes the secretion of various digestive enzymes that help neutralize stomach acid. It also helps relax the stomach muscles to reduce overactivity in the stomach and makes your digestive system work faster.
Ginger can also act as a blood thinner, so limit your intake to three teaspoons of raw ginger in a day, as it can affect how your blood clots.
6. Lemon can help, too.
A pregnant woman’s heightened sense of smell can trigger morning sickness, but it can also give her relief or avert an episode of vomiting. Women find light, citrusy scents, such as lemon, comforting when they’re feeling sick. The strong smell of fresh lemon or taking on a sour lemon candy is also worth a try.
7. Take a chance on acupressure or acupuncture.
Technology has also come up with acupressure and acustimulation wristbands that put pressure on or stimulating specific pressure points of the body to help prevent nausea. Some women tried to combat morning sickness with acupuncture and swear it worked. Remember to look for an acupuncturist trained to deal with pregnant women.
8. Relax and get some air.
Avoid poorly-ventilated spaces that can trap strong odor. Now is not the time to overexert our body, so keep your activities slow and calm. Tiredness can aggravate nausea. Also, try to get a lot of sleep.
9. Ask for medication.
If none of the above works for you, you may ask your doctor about taking medication to improve your condition. A short-term prescription of anti-sickness medicine called antiemetic is a drug that’s safe to use in pregnancy.
When morning sickness puts a pregnant woman or her baby at risk
Morning sickness becomes a danger to a pregnant woman and her baby only when it’s so severe and disruptive to her woman’s life and well-being. Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is often referred to as an extreme form of morning sickness, which can last the entire duration of pregnancy.
According to the Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation (HER), those who suffer from HG can experience numerous episodes of nausea and vomiting throughout the day. It can get so bad that it can lead to dehydration, weight loss (greater than five percent of pre-pregnancy body weight), or nutritional deficiencies if left untreated. It also puts the unborn baby at risk for not getting enough nutrition.
Some symptoms that warn doctors that a pregnant woman’s morning sickness is progressing to HG are the following:
- Body odor (from rapid fat loss and ketosis)
- Decreased urination
- Dry, furry tongue
- Excessive salivation
- Extreme fatigue
- Fainting or dizziness
- Food aversions
- Hypersensitive gag reflex
- Intolerance to motion/noise/light
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Low blood pressure
- Pale, waxy, dry skin
- Rapid heart rate
- Secondary anxiety/depression
- Vomiting of mucus, bile or blood
If you’ve had HG, the chances are high that you will have it again in your future pregnancies though the severity may vary each time.
If your health does not improve, your doctor may hook you up to an intravenous drip (IV) to make sure you’re hydrated, while giving you medicine to help alleviate your symptoms and monitor you until your condition is more manageable.