What is morning sickness?
Morning sickness, or pregnancy nausea, is a common sickness for most women during their pregnancy. It usually happens in the first trimester, but for some women, it might last into their second trimester; and for a few unfortunate women, into the entire length of their pregnancy.
Severe morning sickness is known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), and can affect around one in 1,000 pregnant women. HG is a serious condition that need to be treated or it will affect your baby.
How common is morning sickness?
This health condition is extremely common. Around half of all pregnant women experience vomiting, and more than 80% of women (80 out of 100) experience nausea. All pregnant women will experience morning sickness to some degrees, particularly in the first trimester.
Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of morning sickness?
The common symptoms of morning sickness are:
- Loss of appetite;
- Psychological effects, such as depression and anxiety.
The possible complications of untreated hyperemesis gravidarum include:
- Electrolyte imbalances;
- Extreme depression and anxiety;
- Malnourishment of the fetus;
- Excessive strain on vital organs, including the liver, heart, kidneys and brain.
Morning sickness can be very unpleasant and affect the mother on many levels. It will change your level of psychological stress, including anxiety and depression, preventing you from going to work, socializing and looking after your other children.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
Some women are concern that vomiting might be harmful to their baby, but this should not be a concern. The baby is cushioned inside the amniotic fluid sac. The vomiting and nausea feeling affect the digestive system, therefore it will not harm the child in anyway, even if the aching and soreness might be unpleasant.
In fact, moderate morning sickness means you are at a lower risk of miscarriage. Of course, not having morning sickness doesn’t mean you are at higher risk of miscarriage, either. However, keep in mind that prolonged vomiting can lead to loss of hydration and nutrients. This can deprive your child of nutrition and create a risk of underweight child. Call your doctor if you have the following symptoms with vomiting:
- Have very dark-coloured urine or do not pass urine for more than eight hours;
- Are unable to keep food or fluids down for 24 hours;
- Feel severely weak, dizzy or faint when standing up;
- Have abdominal (tummy) pain;
- Have a fever of 38oC or above;
- Vomit blood.
What causes morning sickness?
Some people believe that morning sickness is caused by the woman’s fears and anxieties, which trigger her physical discomfort. However, there is no research to support these claims.
Some suggest that a combination of physical and metabolic factors can be the reason of morning sickness, including:
- High levels of hormones, especially estrogen;
- Lowered blood pressure;
- Altered metabolism of carbohydrates;
- Physical and chemical stress.
What increases my risk for morning sickness?
There are many risk factors for morning sickness, such as:
- Nausea and vomiting in a previous pregnancy;
- A family history of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, or morning sickness;
- A history of motion sickness – for example, in a car;
- A history of nausea while using contraceptives that contain estrogen;
- Obesity – where you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more;
- Multiple pregnancies, such as twins or triplets;
- First pregnancy.
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is morning sickness diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask about your morning sickness during your pregnancy checkup. They will measure your weight and take ultrasound of the baby to see if there is any chance of abnormality or miscarriage.
How is morning sickness treated?
If your morning sickness is severe, you might need anti-sickness medicine (antiemetic) prescribed by your doctor to help with controlling your symptoms. For pregnant women, doctors usually give antihistamines (medicines often used to treat allergies such as hay fever) as this type of medication is safe to take during pregnancy. Getting plenty of rest – tiredness can make nausea worse.
- Drinking plenty of fluids, such as water, and sipping them in little amount at many intervals rather than in large amounts, as this may help prevent vomiting
- Eating cold meals rather than hot ones as they don’t give off the smell that hot meals often do, which may make you feel sick
- Avoiding foods or smells that make you feel sick
- Avoiding drinks that are cold, tart (sharp) or sweet
- Asking the people close to you for extra support and help – it helps if someone else can cook, but if this isn’t possible, go for bland, non-greasy foods, such as baked potatoes or pasta, which are simple to prepare
- Distracting yourself as much as you can – the nausea can get worse the more you think about it
- Wearing comfortable clothes without tight waistbands
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage morning sickness?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with morning sickness:
- Don’t take any type of drug without your doctor’s prescription.
- Reduce morning sickness by eating a few plain crackers or bread in the morning.
- Get up slowly, don’t move so sudden.
- Avoid smelly or oily food that might make you feel nauseous.
- Don’t eat less, eat small meals to reduce reflux.
- Drink enough fluids: lemonade, diluted fruit juice, cordial, weak tea, ginger tea, clear soup or beef extract drinks are helpful.
- Ask your doctor about taking supplements while you are pregnant.
- Consider acupressure or acupuncture on the wrist.
- Wear loose clothes that don’t constrict your abdomen.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: July 25, 2017 | Last Modified: July 31, 2017
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Nausea and morning sickness. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/morning-sickness-nausea.aspx. Accessed July 21, 2016.
Pregnancy - morning sickness. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-morning-sickness. Accessed July 21, 2016.