Numerous pregnant women (up to 85%) experience nausea or vomiting at a certain period of their pregnancy. In the majority of cases, these symptoms are uncomfortable but not dangerous.
Approximately 1% of mothers will throw up so harshly that the weight loss and dehydration will require hospital treatment. The severe type of morning sickness during pregnancy is medically called hyperemesis gravidarum. Even though this condition, if left untreated, could endanger the life of the patient, a brief hospital stay is usually enough to eliminate it.
When a woman suffers from morning sickness of pregnancy, these may be significant enough to affect normal daily activities (e.g. work, child care). Moreover, although they are called “morning sickness”, nausea and vomiting can occur at any time of day.
The exact causes of the morning sickness during pregnancy are unidentified, but they are probably related to hormones of pregnancy. Women who experience morning sickness are inclined to have higher concentrations of these hormones than others.
It is possible that the vomiting and nausea during pregnancy to be are an ancient protection of the fetus against the poisons. Given the richness and variety of our diet compared to those of our ancestors, it is not surprising that such protection system is more or less unbalanced and rejects various foods that are healthy.
There is evidence underlying this hypothesis comes from the research that shows that women suffer from vomiting during their pregnancy have a lower rate of miscarriage. The research indicated higher levels of the two hormones (the human chorionic gonadotropin and thyroxine) in women who have nausea.
The best method to treat morning sickness is to begin with non-drug measures. Below are listed some suggestions that are useful in many cases:
- snack throughout the day rather than eating large meals;
- avoid the fatty foods, and choose plain carbohydrates such as potatoes and rice;
- eat some crackers in bed prior to getting up in the morning;
- it is important not to keep your stomach completely empty in order not to increase the nausea;
- avoiding things that activate the nausea, like certain food smells;
- women who consume prenatal vitamins that contain iron can try other brands to see if their symptoms subside;
- avoid taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid only;
- avoid cooking odors if cooking exacerbates the symptoms;
- avoid the fried foods;
- do not lie down immediately after eating.
If the non-drug measures have failed, the doctor may recommend doxylamine in order to control the morning sickness. Women are often reluctant to take medication during pregnancy because of risks to the fetus. It is vital to remember that all women are exposed to a 3% risk of giving birth to a child with a birth defect. The studies have shown that the doxylamine has no risk to the fetus. Women suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum may receive food or intravenous fluid replacement.