Morning sickness is a common symptom of
pregnancy and is marked by nausea and occasional vomiting. Despite the name,
morning sickness can cause discomfort at any time of the day.
Morning sickness usually happens within the
first four months of pregnancy and is often the first sign that a woman is
There are various ways to alleviate morning
sickness, and complications are rare.
Causes of morning sickness
There is no one cause of morning sickness
during pregnancy, and severity varies among women. Increased hormone levels
during the first few weeks of pregnancy is among the most common causes.
Reduced blood sugar is another common cause of morning sickness.
Other factors can exacerbate morning
sickness. These include:
- having twins or triplets
- excessive fatigue
- emotional stress
- frequent traveling
Morning sickness can vary between
pregnancies. While you may have had severe morning sickness during one
pregnancy, in future pregnancies it may be very mild.
Risks of morning sickness
Nausea and vomiting can easily cause a loss
of appetite. Many pregnant women worry that this will harm their babies. Mild
morning sickness is generally not harmful.
Women who experience morning sickness well
beyond the first three to four months of their pregnancies should speak with
their doctors. Also seek help if you aren’t gaining any weight during
complications of morning sickness
Morning sickness is usually not severe enough
to hinder fetal growth and development. Some pregnant women experience severe
vomiting and weight loss because of the nausea. This is called hyperemesis gravidarum. This
condition causes electrolyte imbalances and unintentional weight loss. If left
untreated, this condition may eventually harm your baby.
Call your doctor immediately if you
- an inability to keep food down
- weight loss of 2 pounds or more
- infrequent urination with small quantities of dark colored urine
- lightheadedness or dizziness
- fast heartbeat
- severe nausea within the second trimester
- blood in your vomit
- frequent headaches
- abdominal pain
- spotting, or bleeding
Severe bouts of morning sickness generally
require hospitalization. Hyperemesis gravidarum often requires intravenous (IV)
fluids for rehydration.
Treatment for morning sickness
Your doctor may prescribe supplements or
medications to alleviate nausea and to help you retain foods and fluids.
Medications your doctor may prescribe include:
- antihistamines: to help with nausea and motion sickness
- phenothiazine: to help calm severe nausea and vomiting
- metoclopramide (Reglan): to help the
stomach move food into the intestines and help with nausea and vomiting
- antacids: to absorb stomach acid and help prevent
Do not take these medications on
your own without first talking with your doctor.
Some people find that alternative remedies
may also help relieve morning sickness. Make sure you only try these after first
discussing them with your doctor. These remedies include:
- vitamin B-6 supplements
- prenatal vitamins
- ginger products, including ginger ale, ginger tea, and ginger
- saltine crackers
Tests for morning sickness
Based on your symptoms, your doctor may order
some tests to make sure that you and your baby are safe. These include:
Urine tests can determine whether you are
Blood chemistry tests
Your doctor may order blood chemistry tests that
- complete blood count (CBC)
- comprehensive metabolic panel
- comprehensive metabolic panel (Chem-20),
to measure the electrolytes in your blood.
These tests will determine whether you are:
- malnourished, or deficient in
Ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of your baby. The doctor then uses these images and sounds to check that
your baby is developing at a healthy rate.
Preventing morning sickness
Taking the following steps may help prevent
or minimize nausea:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Drink water before and after meals.
- Take naps.
- Ventilate your home and workspace to eliminate scents that make
- Avoid spicy foods.
- Eat small meals.
- Avoid fatty foods.
- Take vitamins at night.
- Avoid cigarette smoke.
If none of these preventative measures works,
or if you experience morning sickness beyond the first three to four months of your
pregnancy, it’s important you speak with your doctor. Also, make sure you only
try medications and alternative remedies after first discussing these options
with your doctor.