Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy
How common is Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy?
Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy is a common condition. It can occur any time during the day,
even though it’s often called “morning sickness.” Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy usually doesn’t harm the fetus,
but it can affect your life, including your ability to work or go about your normal everyday activities.
Around 8 out of every 10 pregnant women feel sick (nausea), are sick (vomiting) or both during pregnancy.
Some pregnant women experience very bad nausea and vomiting. They might be sick many times a day and be unable to keep food or drink down, which can impact on their daily life.
This excessive nausea and vomiting is known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), and often needs hospital treatment.
HG is much worse than the normal nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.
Any of the following can increase the risk of severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy:
Being pregnant with more than one fetus (multiple pregnancy)
A previous pregnancy with either mild or severe nausea and vomiting
Your mother or sister had severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy
A history of motion sickness or migraines
Being pregnant with a female fetus
Signs and symptoms of HG include:
prolonged and severe nausea and vomiting
ketosis — a serious condition that is caused by a raised number of ketones in the blood and urine (ketones are poisonous acidic chemicals that are produced when your body breaks down fat, rather than glucose, for energy)
low blood pressure (hypotension) when standing up
headaches, confusion, fainting and jaundice
Treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy
There are medicines that can be used in pregnancy, including the first 12 weeks, to help improve the symptoms of HG.
These include anti-sickness (anti-emetic) drugs, vitamins (B6 and B12) and steroids, or combinations of these.
In case of severe vomiting, treatment can include intravenous fluids, which are given directly into a vein through a drip.
The anti-sickness drugs may also be given via a vein or a muscle in severe cases.
Unlike regular pregnancy sickness, HG may not get better by 16 to 20 weeks. It may not clear up completely until the baby is born, although some symptoms may improve at around 20 weeks.
In the case of morning sickness, eating healthy snacks throughout the day like crackers or dry toast may lessen nausea and vomiting.
For some women, morning sickness is worse on an empty stomach.
Sometimes, alternative therapies, such as aromatherapy, acupuncture, and acupressure can also provide relief.
Other ways to relieve symptoms:
Sipping on water or ginger
Avoiding triggers, such as certain foods and smells
Taking prenatal vitamins
Blood clots and hyperemesis gravidarum
Because hyperemesis gravidarum can cause dehydration, there’s also an increased risk of having deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot).
Antiemetics during pregnancy
Many antiemetic drugs have been shown to be safe to use during pregnancy. But others have conflicting or limited safety information.
For example, drug ondansetron is highly effective in preventing nausea and vomiting, but studies are not clear about its safety for the fetus.
Ondansetron also has been linked to heart-rhythm problems in people taking the drug, especially in those who have certain underlying conditions.