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Morning sickness- what’s normal and what’s not?

One of the signs that you are pregnant is the constant nausea and vomiting that happens anytime of the day but mainly during in the morning. This is called morning sickness and according to the American Pregnancy Association, it starts around six weeks. Family physician Dr Carolyn Lane maintains that a bit of nausea is …

One of the signs that you are pregnant is the constant nausea and vomiting that happens anytime of the day but mainly during in the morning. This is called morning sickness and according to the American Pregnancy Association, it starts around six weeks. Family physician Dr Carolyn Lane maintains that a bit of nausea is actually a good sign. “If the pregnancy is developing normally, and all the pregnancy hormones are there, you’re more likely to experience some NVP (Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy). It is associated with better pregnancy outcomes,” she says adding that, “If you’re vomiting so much that you become dehydrated and your electrolytes are off balance, it can potentially be harmful.”  She warns that if the vomit contains blood, is accompanied by pain or fever, or persists well into the second trimester (after the week 13), you must consult with your gynaecologist. “Women need to discuss their symptoms with their caregiver and work together to try to reduce nausea and vomiting,” adds Dr Lane

What you need to know about morning sickness

It affects an estimated 80 per cent of women and although it is known as morning sickness, it can occur any time of the day and not just mornings. The main symptoms are nausea or vomiting and the severity differs from woman to woman “It can start as early as the fourth week, but the average time is around six weeks, and usually subsides by week 13,” Dr Lane says.

When to worry?

A severe but rare form of morning sickness is called Hyperemisis Gravidarum (HG) and those who have experienced it, often report feeling completely isolated and debilitating as it can last as long as the entire duration of the pregnancy. People suffering from this form of morning sickness needs to be monitored carefully as it can cause rapid weight loss, dehydration and a build-up of toxins in the blood or urine called ketosis.  

What can you do?

Dr Lane says that there’s no hard and fast rule about what you should eat to avoid nausea. You must follow your own cues. “Try to implement a few small changes to your diet and lifestyle. For example, research has shown that eating smaller quantities of food throughout the day and getting enough rest may help ease morning sickness,” says Dr Lane. She recommends eight ways to beat morning sickness:

  • Avoid being around smokers as their smoking can easily aggravate nausea.
  • It is better to eat frequent and small meals than to binge.
  • Iron contained in a general supplement can upset your stomach so talk to your gynaecologist about which iron supplements you can take safely during pregnancy.
  • Drink plenty of fluids between meals.
  • You may crave spicy and fatty foods but avoid it at all costs.
  • Avoid foods with strong aromas.
  • Eating cold foods or foods at room temperature can help.
  • Avoid drinks that contain caffeine, such as tea, coffee or cola.
  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recommended the use of vitamin B6 in controlling morning sickness. Although it’s not clear how it works, research studies reveal that extra doses of this vitamin could help to relieve nausea.
  • If you’ve tried everything and still suffer severely, speak to your gynaecologist for advice and help as there are few safe medicines you can take during pregnancy.

 

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