Morning sickness, characterized by nausea and vomiting, affects many women during the first few months of pregnancy. Despite its name, morning sickness can occur at any time of the day or night. Although many women suffer from morning sickness only in the early stages of pregnancy, some are affected throughout. Although its cause has not been established, morning sickness is believed to result from the increase in hormone levels during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Morning Sickness
The main symptom of morning sickness is nausea, which is sometimes accompanied by vomiting. Symptoms occur as early as the first month of pregnancy, and usually subside midway through. If nausea and vomiting are severe, and the woman cannot keep any food down and begins to lose weight, it may be a sign of a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum. If vomiting is persistent and severe, it can lead to dehydration.
Treatment of Morning Sickness
There is no specific treatment for morning sickness. However, if nausea and vomiting are persistent as a result of hyperemesis gravidarum, anti-nausea medication may be prescribed, and IV fluids used to treat dehydration. Recommendations for easing the symptoms of morning sickness include the following:
- Eating six small meals a day instead of three large meals
- Avoiding spicy or fatty food
- Eating a few crackers before getting out of bed in the morning
- Sipping ginger ale
- Avoiding nausea triggers (certain foods or smells)
Some women also feel nauseous after taking prenatal vitamins, so it may help to take vitamins with snacks or right before bed. Although the symptoms of morning sickness are unpleasant, they are temporary, and not harmful to either the mother or baby. In cases of hyperemesis gravidarum, however, medical treatment should be sought to avoid complications.