The medical term for morning sickness is emesis gravidarum, which literally means nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Statistical findings reveal that about 50 to 66% of pregnant women experience this. Majority are aware of morning sickness symptoms because they are often featured in movies, television series, and other forms of social media. However, movies and the like do not provide adequate information of these symptoms. It is important to note that this does not necessarily indicate pregnancy; however, it is a sign of such. Listed below is more detailed information on morning sickness.
Morning sickness is a normal occurrence of pregnancy. Women with this condition experience sudden bouts of nausea, which are usually accompanied by vomiting. This may subsequently lead to a loss of appetite and certain levels of psychological stress like depression and anxiety. Research shows that 3 out of 10 women experience nausea without episodes of vomiting.
Numerous hormonal changes occur during pregnancy, which may trigger the feeling of queasiness and the expulsion of last night’s dinner. This sensation may begin to be noticeable at about the same time progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) levels start to increase. One of the roles of progesterone in pregnancy is to relax the uterine muscles to prevent preterm birth. However, this may also result in the relaxation of the stomach and intestines which would lead to the increased production of stomach acids. High acidic conditions in the intestines may result in the reflux of the stomach’s contents. Human chorionic gonadotropin is a hormone that aids in the maintenance of the production of progesterone by preventing the processes involved in menstruation. Professionals say that hCG levels are linked to morning sickness.
Emesis gravidarum might also be a reaction to the increased levels of estrogen or the decreased amounts of glucose in the body, since greater quantities of glucose are being consumed by the fetus. A lack of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) in the diet may also trigger the condition.
Despite the name, morning sickness symptoms can occur any time of the day. The feeling is usually most prominent early morning upon waking up, but in some cases, it can last all day long.
This dreary sensation is only normal if it is present during the first 12 to 14 weeks (3 lunar months or 84 to 98 days) of pregnancy. If it lasts any longer than that, the mother is advised to seek medical intervention at the nearest health care facility. This may be a sign of a more severe symptom called hyperemesis gravidarum.
To decrease the occurrence of morning sickness symptoms, the woman is advised to eat small quantities of food at regular intervals throughout the day. Eating too little can cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Increasing intake of carbohydrates is a big help, therefore, it is important to consume a bit of toast or a few dry crackers such as saltines upon waking up. Eating cold meals rather than hot ones decreases external stimulus (the scent of the food), thus decreasing the occurrence of nausea. Never, ever skip a meal as the cons of this practice outweigh the pros. Also, do not lie down immediately after consuming food as this may slow down the digestive process.
Fatigue aggravates the occurrence of nausea, therefore, adequate rest periods are highly recommended. When getting out of bed, do not jump out right away. Sit for a few minutes before standing up.
It is important to stay hydrated by drinking small amounts of water throughout the day. That is because a lot of bodily fluids are expulsed whenever one vomits. In worst case scenarios, this may lead to dehydration. It is a good rule for women to drink water at least 30 minutes before and after a meal. Drinking any form of liquid during meals is highly discouraged as this may trigger the queasiness.
Performing oral hygiene is also highly recommended to get rid of the bitterness or any odd tastes in the mouth. Try sniffing ginger or drinking some ginger or peppermint tea – this helps settle the stomach and ease up nausea.
Certain types of foods and some aromas can trigger nausea, so it is important to avoid them as much as possible. Pregnant women must not consume greasy, highly seasoned or spicy food. Decrease external stimuli by staying in a clean environment that is free of foul odors such as garbage and rotten food, or strong odors such as perfume, air fresheners and the like. Also, avoid wearing tight, fitting clothes that constrict the abdomen.
Applying acupressure on the wrist may also prove to be helpful. This may be done by placing a special band around the wrist – one that is not too tight or too loose. Research shows that exerting pressure on this area stimulates the brain to produce hormones that would aid in the prevention of morning sickness.
If all these interventions fail to alleviate morning sickness, try asking a physician for medical treatment. Usually, they would prescribe an appropriate antiemetic (a medication that controls and prevents nausea and vomiting) that does not pose any harmful side effects to the fetus. Do not self-prescribe any medication. It is also recommended for the woman to take vitamin B6 supplements. Consult the physician for the appropriate dose.
Poorly managed morning sickness may result in dehydration and inadequate nutrition. The woman should see her physician if any of the following symptoms is observed: dark-tinted urine, inability to hold down food or fluids for at least 24 hours, severe dizziness, fainting spells, fever, or hematemesis (vomiting of blood).
Although properly managed emesis gravidarum does not cause harm to the pregnant mother or the fetus, if it persists for more than 14 weeks, it may be a sign of a more severe condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. This is a rare condition that affects about 1% of the population. Women who experience this are unable to achieve adequate nutrition due to severe nausea and vomiting. The main problem in this condition is dehydration which occurs due to the excessive loss of fluids. Subsequently, there is also a considerable amount of weight loss. The mother is advised to seek medical intervention at the nearest health care facility.
If left untreated, the fetus may become severely malnourished, decreasing its chances of survival. There may also be electrolyte imbalances which are potentially dangerous for both the fetus and the mother.