Tame Your Tummy to Cope with Morning Sickness
If you are feeling nauseous, with or without vomiting, and are in your first trimester of pregnancy, chances are the culprit is morning sickness. The term can be misleading as the sick-to-your-stomach feeling can last throughout the day. Most often, morning sickness eases up or even disappears by the fourth month of pregnancy, but some women can experience symptoms all the way through to term. Most morning sickness can be handled with at-home remedies, but you will want to see your doctor if the symptoms become severe.
That Nausea Feeling
Morning sickness usually starts between the fourth and sixth week of pregnancy, though it is possible to start to feel nauseous just two weeks after conception. The nauseous feeling may prevent you from being able to eat or make it impossible to keep food down. Some women’s stomachs can be particularly upset in the morning and clear up as the day goes on. However, others may feel sick throughout the day or night, or the nauseous feeling may start at any time, such as the afternoon or evening.
Blame It On the Hormones
There is no conclusive evidence as to what causes morning sickness, but it is believed to be a combination of hormonal physical responses to being pregnant. The hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which can cause nausea, is made by the placenta and tends to rise during early pregnancy. Estrogen, another common hormone that rises during pregnancy, is also thought to contribute to an upset stomach.
An enhanced sense of smell and taste during pregnancy can also trigger morning sickness. An all of a sudden ability to smell that chicken salad sandwich your co-worker is eating across the room may have you running to the bathroom, for example. Foods or smells that never bothered you before, or that you may not have even noticed, can cause your newly enhanced sensitive digestive tract to turn.
Ease your Stomach and Stay Hydrated
For some women it’s crackers and for others, ice chips do the trick, but there is no one sure way to calm morning sickness, and it often requires a period of trial and error. Eating several light meals throughout the day can prevent your stomach from being empty, which may help to reduce feelings of nausea. Eating a few bland crackers and allowing them to digest before getting out of bed or moving around a lot may prevent vomiting first thing in the morning. Consume plenty of water, sports drinks, juice and broth to stay hydrated. Decrease or avoid eating fatty foods, which can cause an upset stomach. Try adding some fresh or crystallized ginger, which is thought to help with stomach ailments, into hot water or tea.
If it Gets Severe, Call the Doctor
Severe morning sickness, which includes hyperemesis gravidarum (heavy vomiting with a 3 to 5 percent loss of prepregnancy weight) or symptoms that extend into the second or third trimester, can lead to dehydration and cause you to become malnourished, which is not good for you or your baby. Dehydration can be particularly troublesome for pregnant women because both the placenta and amniotic fluid require water to form and function properly. A severe water deficit can lead to complications such as birth defects, low amniotic fluid and premature labor.
Even mild to moderate dehydration should be addressed so that you are at your optimal health while your baby grows. Dark yellow urine, dry mouth, sleepiness, feeling thirsty, dizziness, constipation and having headaches are all signs that you are dehydrated.
If home remedies are not alleviating the problem or if you are vomiting more than three times per day, it is time to call the doctor. Medication or hospitalization may be necessary to get the nausea under control and rehydrate your body. Talk to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications or supplements to help with the nauseous feelings, including antihistamines and vitamin b-6, which are common nausea reducers.
Talk to your doctor about your water intake and output to determine the right amount of fluids to consume per day.
Call the doctor immediately if the vomiting is accompanied by pain or fever. This can be an indication that the cause is something more severe than morning sickness, such as the flu, another virus or an infection.