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Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy
Obstetrics 

Whoever called it “morning sickness” had probably never been pregnant. Nausea and vomiting is one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy and can affect up to 9 out of 10 pregnant women. It usually begins between weeks 5-6 and usually subsides by week 16. It can be severe in 2% of cases and an unfortunate 5% of women can have symptoms that last their entire
pregnancy.

What causes nausea and vomiting in pregnancy?

We are not really sure what causes morning sickness and there are a number of theories including the level of pregnancy hormones and their effects on the gastrointestinal system such as slowed emptying of the stomach. The symptoms do tend to be more severe if a woman is carrying twins and of course other causes such as gastroenteritis need to be excluded before the
diagnosis is made.

Is it harmful for you or your baby?

In general, then nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy is not dangerous for mothers or their babies. In rare cases, however, the nausea or vomiting may be so severe that women are unable to keep fluids or any food down. If this persists for a long period of time, then they run the risk of dehydration and metabolic disturbances that may require treatment in hospital.

How can nausea and vomiting in pregnancy be managed?

There are a number of simple things that can be done.

  • Eating meals and snacks in small amounts and regularly to avoid hunger
  • Eating meals and snacks high in protein
  • Avoiding foods or smells that worsen the symptoms
  • Cold solid foods as opposed to hot foods
  • Peppermint lozenges may reduce nausea around meal time
  • Avoid laying down on your left side soon after meals

Acupuncture and hypnosis are non-pharmacological remedies which may be of benefit.

Some non-prescription options include ginger, vitamin B6, and simple antihistamines such as doxylamine.

If your symptoms persist then you may need to speak to your doctor about prescription anti-nausea medication and if you are unable to keep down fluids or any solids for more than 24 hours, you should seek medical advice.
The above information doesn’t take the place of a medical consultation so please seek further advice if you have further concerns.

Download the PDF of this article.

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