It may be called morning sickness, but the nausea and vomiting that accompanies about 70% of pregnancies can actually occur at any time of day. This common condition usually begins around the 6-week mark of pregnancy, and it can last for weeks, months, or, for some women, throughout the entire pregnancy.
If you’re struggling through morning sickness or worried you might experience it when you become pregnant, you’re probably wondering what causes it and how you can avoid this unpleasant side effect of pregnancy.
The board-certified OB/GYN providers at Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare provide comprehensive obstetrics services for women in Fayetteville, Newnan, and Stockbridge, Georgia. From preconception counseling through postnatal care, our team is with you every step of the way — including helping you manage morning sickness should the issue arise.
Take a moment to learn more about morning sickness, what you can do to manage it, and when it’s time to seek medical help.
Why do pregnant women get morning sickness?
Medical researchers still aren’t sure what causes morning sickness. Increased hormone levels during the first weeks of pregnancy play a role, but other factors, such as low blood sugar, may also play a role. Some conditions may make morning sickness worse, such as:
- Being pregnant with twins or multiple babies
- Having a history of motion sickness or migraines
- Having a history of using estrogen-based birth control
- Experiencing severe emotional stress
- Being extremely tired or fatigued
Ultimately, researchers believe a combination of factors may contribute to the development of the condition, since morning sickness varies in severity and duration between women. In fact, you may have severe morning sickness with one pregnancy and have only mild symptoms in a subsequent pregnancy.
What if my morning sickness is severe?
For about 3% of pregnant women, morning sickness may develop into a serious condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. This condition causes severe nausea and vomiting that leads to dehydration and weight loss. Symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum include:
- Inability to keep down food or liquids
- Weight loss (5 pounds or more)
- Vomiting 3 times or more a day
- Having signs of dehydration (little or dark-colored urine, dizziness, racing heart)
If not treated, hyperemesis gravidarum can cause health complications for the baby. If you experience any of the symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum, call your Southern Crescent Women’s Healthcare provider right away. Treatment typically requires hospitalization and the delivery of fluids for rehydration through an IV.
Is there help for morning sickness?
The good news is that there are steps you can take to manage your morning sickness. Some of the most effective ways to find relief involve making small lifestyle changes, including:
- Eating smaller meals more frequently
- Avoiding drinking large amounts of fluid at once
- Eating saltines before getting out of bed in the morning
- Eating the foods that appeal to you when they seem appealing
- Sticking with bland, easy-to-digest foods when possible
- Getting help in the kitchen if smells trigger nausea
- Resting and napping throughout the day
- Avoiding getting too warm or warm places (heat tends to make nausea worse)
- Smelling lemon or ginger or eating lemon or ginger hard candies
- Eating salty foods, such as potato chips or pretzels, to combat nausea
- Getting plenty of exercise and fresh air
- Avoiding lying down after eating
- Avoiding spicy foods and fatty foods
- Taking prenatal vitamins with a snack in the evening instead of the morning
Some women also find that wearing an acupressure bracelet or getting acupuncture treatments helps alleviate their symptoms. If you’re struggling with morning sickness, and these lifestyle changes don’t help, your Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare provider may recommend additional interventions, including:
- Medicine to help with nausea and vomiting
- Medicine to absorb stomach acid
- Medications that move food into your intestines.
It’s important to understand that only your doctor should provide these medications. In other words, don’t take any morning sickness medications before talking with your provider.
For help managing morning sickness and all other aspects of pregnancy, call 770-991-2200 or book an appointment online with Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare today.