Morning sickness. It should really be called “all day sickness.” At least, that’s how I felt about six weeks into my pregnancy. Prior to being pregnant, I frequently advised my patients to just try some ginger and maybe eat more frequently when they felt nauseated. I mean, it’s just a little nausea, right? Wrong.
My own pregnancy has opened my eyes to just how awful nausea and vomiting can really be. I couldn’t stand the sight of most foods. The only foods I managed to eat were not exactly the healthiest options — burgers and french fries. So, I ate my way through meat and potatoes well into the first trimester until one day I realized, why am I not asking for help?
I know I’m not alone in this experience, so to all the women out there dealing with nausea, this is for you.
Even as an OB/GYN myself, I was reluctant to tell my doctor about my symptoms. I finally caved and with my doctor’s help, quickly got started on the right medication regimen to get me through the rest of my pregnancy. I know I’m not alone in this experience, so to all the women out there dealing with nausea, this is for you.
Why does pregnancy cause nausea?
Unfortunately, no one really knows what causes nausea during pregnancy. It could be related to the higher dose of hormones in our bodies including human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and estrogen. We do know that women with multiples such as twin gestations, history of migraine headaches or a prior history of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy have a higher chance of developing these symptoms.
And, for a fun fact: you’re more likely to be nauseated if you’re carrying a girl (which was true in my case).
How does severe nausea affect mom and baby?
Severe nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is called hyperemesis gravidarum. You’ve probably heard of it more recently with comedian Amy Schumer coming forward about her struggle with hyperemesis. It’s basically vomiting so bad that it causes weight loss and electrolyte imbalances, but luckily this condition only affects less than 3 percent of pregnancies.
However, when it does occur, hyperemesis can have detrimental consequences requiring hospitalization. The key is to get help before it gets to that point.
What can be done to manage nausea and vomiting in pregnancy?
Fortunately, there are ways to ease these symptoms that many women experience during pregnancy. Here are some of the best tried and true tips that I recommend, with your doctor’s supervision and support:
- Eat frequent, small meals every 1-2 hours.
- Give ginger products a try.
- Acupuncture and acupressure wrist bands can help, but if not, move on until you find something that does.
- Ask your doctor about oral medications and vitamins that can help manage these symptoms and that are safe to consume during pregnancy.
- If all else fails, in extreme cases, IV hydration, subcutaneous infusion pumps, steroids and/or hospitalization can help.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your OB/GYN about nausea.
So, the moral of the story is this: don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor.
I was apprehensive about taking medications in pregnancy for fear of possible risks to my baby. What I didn’t appreciate is that it was far riskier to become dehydrated from frequent vomiting.
Finally, just remember to hang in there. Most nausea and vomiting does resolve in the second trimester but if you’re struggling with nausea and vomiting due to pregnancy, struggle no more. Help is out there if you need it. Find an OB/GYN to partner with you for a healthy, happy pregnancy.
About the author
Grace Glausier is the manager of digital content strategy for Baylor Scott and White Health. A graduate of Baylor University, she is passionate about connecting people through powerful stories and empowering individuals toward better health.