How common is nausea and vomiting of pregnancy?
Very common! About 50 to 90% of people will have some degree of nausea with or without vomiting. Symptoms vary and can last for different amounts of time. Generally, most experience symptoms in the beginning of pregnancy.
What does the term “morning sickness” mean?
This term describes mild nausea and vomiting from pregnancy. Symptoms don’t alway occur in the morning as this term suggests! You may feel sick at any point during the day or night. Symptoms usually start around 5-6 weeks and are worst around 9 weeks and then improve into the second trimester. Unfortunately, about 15-20% of women have symptoms that continue into the third trimester.
What does the term “hyperemesis gravidarum” mean?
This term describes a more severe form of nausea and vomiting from pregnancy. Women with this condition vomit multiple times over the day, lose weight, can’t eat or drink, and often need in-hospital evaluation and treatment. There are specific criteria to meet this diagnosis.
Why do people experience nausea and vomiting of pregnancy?
There are many theories, but the answer isn’t clear! Some reasons include increased hormone levels, slower movement of stomach contents, and genetic or psychological factors.
Who is more likely to develop nausea and vomiting of pregnancy?
This is often hard to predict! Women who experienced symptoms in a prior pregnancy are at much higher risk. Also, those who have nausea/vomiting on birth control pills, experience motion sickness, have family members that had morning sickness, or have twins or multiples are usually more likely to have nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.
Do you need to see a provider if you are experiencing these symptoms?
Not always! If your symptoms are mild, then you usually don’t need to seek immediate help. You should discuss your symptoms with your provider because there are strategies to reduce symptoms and potential treatment can be discussed. Reasons to see your provider more immediately include: signs of dehydration (i.e. dizzy when standing), vomiting all day (or blood in the vomit), unable to eat or drink anything for 12 hours, weight loss of more than 5lbs, or fever, just to name a few.
How can nausea and vomiting be treated?
There are many options that can be tested to see what works best! Not everyone responds the same to treatment! Sometimes, symptoms don’t resolve completely but they can be mitigated.
Dietary changes can help! Sometimes nausea is worsened by eating too much or not eating enough. Snacks and small meals throughout the day rather than just 3 large meals can be helpful. High protein and carbohydrates are usually advised. I recommend meeting with a nutritionist. Additionally, avoiding triggers can be important - this may involve avoiding certain smells, tastes, or activities that can trigger nausea and vomiting.
Some complementary treatments can help including acupuncture or acupressure (like wristbands). Ginger is safe and effective in pregnancy and there are many ginger foods geared for pregnancy like ginger lollipops. There are many other medications that can be taken in pregnancy, but it is advised that you discuss this with your provider before starting anything. The combination of Vitamin B6 and doxylamine has shown to be very effective. Additionally, other more common examples of medications include antihistamines (benadryl), reglan, zofran, and compazine. Intravenous (IV) fluids may be needed for severe hydration.
Are there any treatments I should avoid?
Marijuana/THC-containing products are not recommended for treatment.
Do those with nausea and vomiting in pregnancy ultimately do well?
Yes and sost have no complications! Many women will often have less weight gain in early pregnancy but this usually does not pose any issue. In those with severe nausea and vomiting, repeated hospitalizations may be necessary.