Nausea and vomiting, also known as morning sickness, are very common in early pregnancy. They signal hormonal changes that a pregnant woman undergoes starting from the eighth week. They clear up by weeks 16 to 20 of pregnancy in some cases. But if that does not happen, it a cause of concern.
Women who get a very severe form of nausea and vomiting (hyperemesis gravidarum), can get very seriously sick. “If it causes a pregnant women to lose weight during pregnancy, there is an increased risk that the baby may be born smaller than expected that is, low birth weight),” says Sampath Kumar, senior professor, obstetrician and gynecology, Vydehi Medical College and Hospital.
When to see a doctor for morning sickness:
If a pregnant mother is vomitting and can’t keep any food or drink down, there is a chance that she could become dehydrated or malnourished.
“In case there is very dark-coloured urine or if she is not able to pass urine for more than eight hours or is unable to keep food or fluids down for over 24 hours, feels severely weak or dizzy when standing up, has abdominal pain, has a high temperature and vomits blood, then it is time to reach out for medical help,’’ says Dr K Srinivas, assistant professor, obstetrician and gynecology, Vani Vilas Hospital.
He adds that if there is a delay in reaching for medical help, there are chances of kidney failure and the liver can also be affected. “Doctors will inject IV fluids and in some cases, terminating the pregnancy will be suggested to save the mother’s life,’’ he adds.
Are you at risk?
A number of factors may indicate that you may be prone to nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. These include:
■ Similar symptoms in other pregnancies
■ A family history of morning sickness
■ A history of motion sickness
■ A history of nausea while using contraceptives that contain oestrogen
■ Obesity, where you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more.
■ Stressful pregnancy or cases where twins or triplets are expected. Hyperemesis gravidarum can cause dehydration and there’s also an increased risk of having deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot), although this is rare.
Tips to beat morning sickness
■ Dehydration is a leading cause of nausea. Sip a little amount of water every few minutes throughout the day. You could also treat yourself with fruit juice but stay away from caffeinated drinks.
■ Take naps during the day or when you feel most nauseated.
■ Don’t stuff yourself all at once. Eat small, frequent meals, high in protein and fibre. Avoid fattening or spicy foods.
■ Keep a moist and unscented towel nearby to refresh your face after nausea or vomitting.
■ Smelling a bar of soap can reduce the vomitting sensation.
■ Go out every evening to get some fresh air and exercise. Opt for a brisk evening walk or do yoga and stretching exercises.
■ Taking vitamin B6 supplements is known to help with morning sickness. However, these should be taken only after consulting your doctor.