Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) or pregnancy sickness is a much better description than morning sickness as the nausea and vomiting can occur any time of the day or night.
Just to make it even more of a mystery, some women do not experience any morning sickness, some have very mild nausea, some have nausea and vomiting and a few have extreme nausea and vomiting called hyperemesis gravidarum .
The duration and severity of morning sickness varies from person to person and between pregnancies in the same person.
What are the chances of getting nausea and vomiting during pregnancy? About 80% of women experience some form of morning sickness during pregnancy and a very small percentage (1 to 2%) experience hyperemesis gravidarum which will require medical treatment and hospitalization.
Bad news for first time pregnancy is that it is usually worse in first pregnancies. The good news is that it will not have any effect on your baby.
The joy of pregnancy is often overshadowed by the misery of morning sickness during the early stages of pregnancy.
What Does Morning Sickness Feel Like?
It can range from being a minor inconvenience to having a profound effect on your daily activities and quality of life.
The following words are the best I could think of to describe what it feels like:
- Nauseous, queasiness (like having been on a roller coaster ride), upset stomach, dry retching, weird tummy ache, stomach feeling like it is beyond empty, always having a feeling of wanting to vomit, bad taste in your mouth and food having no taste,
- Headaches, feeling like you have a bad hangover,
- Mood swings,
- Feeling too hot or too cold,
- Burping and having flatulence,
- Strong aversion to certain smells – cooking, aftershave, coffee, things that you would normally have liked but now find nauseating.
Each woman experiences it differently and if you are one of the lucky ones that does not have to go through morning sickness, count your blessings!
A morning sickness poem
You know that its coming
And you want it to be over
You race for your porcelain
Your hand covers your mouth
And your knees hit the floor
Oh so quickly
It’s up and out
You can’t hold it in
Maybe you should have
Cleaned the toilet better
As you empty your stomach
Oh the relief
Now…..for it to happen all over again.
The joys of pregnancy
Why Do You Get Morning Sickness During Pregnancy?
It is another mystery that science has not found an answer to. The theories are that the increased hormone levels (estrogen, progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin) are to blame. Other potential causes include fluctuations in your blood pressure and the physical and chemical changes that occur during pregnancy. But, in short, nobody knows the answer as yet.
How Soon Does Morning Sickness Start?
When Does Morning Sickness End?
How I wish I could have a predictor that could answer that question!
It varies a lot from person to person and from pregnancy to pregnancy.
For the majority of expectant moms the worst is over by the end of the first trimester. Unfortunately about 20% suffer morning sickness well into their 2nd trimester and a few have it throughout their pregnancy.
As a first time mom-to-be it is impossible to predict when it is going to end.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum – What To Look Out For
Due to the severe vomiting and lack of food intake, dehydration and malnutrition can occur.
Symptoms and signs that should alert you to consult your healthcare provider:
- Severe nausea and vomiting that does not respond to a change in diet and lifestyle (can’t keep any food or drink down),
- Feeling very dizzy, weak or faint when standing up,
- Not passing any urine for 8 hours or passing very dark urine,
- Vomiting blood
If you are experiencing morning sickness and have any concerns, it is advisable to discuss it with your midwife or healthcare provider.
Home Remedies For Morning Sickness
Depending on the severity of the nausea and vomiting, trying to cope with the combination of queasiness, tiredness, headaches and just generally not feeling well (they got the “sickness” part right!) can be difficult to cope with especially if it is your first pregnancy.
What works for one woman may not work for another, so it is a process of trial and error to find what works for you. Do not give up if it does not work the first time, try it again later before eliminating that particular suggestion.
Based on my research, most moms recommend the following:
- Eat frequent small meals rather than 3 main meals.
- Eat a combination of protein and complex carbohydrates (legumes and starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, rice, bread, cereal, pasta and grain products).
- Carry a supply of crackers, rice cakes, hazelnuts and almonds around with you to snack on when you feel queasy. Also keep them next to your bed and have a few during the night and before getting out of bed in the morning. Also try snacking on apples and bananas. Avoid the fatty nuts such as pecans, walnuts and cashew nuts.
- Try soups and jellies.
- Mouthwash may help with excess saliva and getting rid of the metallic taste in your mouth.
- Avoid any fatty foods, spicy foods, rich foods or anything that makes you feel nauseous. Stick to bland foods.
- Drink small amounts of liquid frequently – sip rather than drink a glass at a time.
- Rather than risk the smell of hot food sending you running to the bathroom, eat cold foods.
- Try ice chips, popsicles and cold watermelon to get rid of the queasiness and taste in your mouth.
- Your prenatal vitamins may be making you nauseous because of the iron content. In the first trimester, try taking them at night or take folic acid alone or discuss other options with your healthcare provider
- Avoid odors that stimulate your nausea by changing things like washing powder, deodorant, shower gel or whatever it is. Try using natural citrus smells such as slices of lemon or orange or ginger as air fresheners. Work out what irritates you and remove it and find what is calming and replace with that.
- Eat whatever you feel like whenever you can.
- Try fresh ginger tea or freshly grated ginger in fruit smoothies.
- Try lemon drops, peppermints and lollipops such as Preggie Pops.
- Acupuncture: About 2 inches (5 cms) or three fingers above the crease of the inner wrist is a pressure point (the Neiguan point) that can be stimulated to relieve nausea.
- Vitamin B6 supplement: discuss this with your physician before taking supplements as you need to take the correct dosage (too high a dosage can be dangerous).
- Sleep is your best friend when it comes to morning sickness.
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Last resort is prescription drugs on the recommendation of your physician.
Morning Sickness And Dads-to-be
We often forget that although it affects the mom-to-be far more, it definitely has an emotional and physical effect on the dad-to-be as well. Trying to cope with a wife/partner that is pregnant but nauseous/vomiting and mood swings can be a confusing/frustrating time for him as well as he will be feeling helpless while trying to be helpful at the same time.
Advice for expecting fathers:
- Don’t panic – be calm and supportive.
- Be sympathetic – having somebody that listens, comforts and loves you while going through the morning sickness phase is a great support.
- Find out if there is anything you use that triggers her nausea and change it immediately.
- Take on some of the chores that she can no longer cope with such as cooking.
- If you have any concerns, discuss these with your health care provider to get a better understanding and information on what you can do to be of help.
There is light at the end of the tunnel as most pregnant women experience relief from morning sickness by week 14.
You will once again be able to eat whatever you want and enjoy the aroma of freshly baked bread or coffee without rebellion from your stomach. Something to look forward to!