Morning Sickness: Causes, Treatments and Prevention

The prevalence of nausea can reach 90%, and of vomiting, 50%. It can interfere with daily routine and quality of life. It can be a huge burden for some women. 

Although it usually occurs in the morning, it can actually present at any time of the day. Symptoms of nausea and vomiting are most prevalent between 6 to 12 weeks of gestation. 

However, many women still will experience the symptoms by the 20th week. And for around 20% of the women, they will persist even longer. 

The reasons are not fully understood. It is thought to be caused by the various changes that take place in the body, especially an altered hormonal status, slower movements of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as psychological factors. In general, although being very unpleasant, there’s no danger for you or your child. 

However, if it first appears after the 12th week, you should consult your physician because it might have different causes. 

Often, women experience phases during the day where they can eat normally and don’t have to be worried at all. 

In case you have the feeling that you can not keep anything down, not even fluids, accompanied by weight loss of more then 5% of your pre-pregnancy weight, might be a sign for hyperemesis gravidarum. This can lead to dehydration and nutrient deficiencies, and has to be monitored by a doctor. 

In most of the cases, diet and lifestyle can help to ease sickness. Common ways to alleviate morning sickness include staying in bed for around 15 minutes after waking up, before you get up slowly. 

Eating small meals and snacks throughout the day, rather than big portions. Often the smell of food can worsen sickness. Some household remedies that can help are the smell of lemons or eating ginger. 

Fluids should be consumed in small amounts throughout the day. 

Avoid drinking just before, during, or immediately after the meal. Fresh air can help, as well avoiding the heat. Some women had good experiences with acupressure and acupuncture. But it’s important to look for an experienced and licensed professional. In case multivitamin supplements worsen morning sickness, they should be taken with food or just before bed. 

Especially iron can further irritate the stomach. And if it’s not possible to take a multivitamin, a separate folic acid pill should be taken until morning sickness passes. 

If medication is required, a safe and effective commonly used medication in pregnant woman contains doxylamine, anti-nausea, and pyridoxine vitamin B6, anti-vomiting. Other possible drugs contain antihistamines and are also considered safe in pregnant women. 

All in all, nausea and vomiting is not a concern for the health of mother and child. I will encourage women to try to find dietary and lifestyle based solutions to help ease morning sickness. And to keep in mind that for the majority of women, this condition will go away.