Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Pregnancy Sickness

Posted on: April 5, 2010

Pregnancy sickness is awful and can occur at any time of the day, although early morning is a common time; it may help to remember that feeling sick is actually a good sign that your pregnancy hormone levels are high.

Sickness can start before you miss your first period, but it’s typical to feel much better after three months however a few unlucky women feel sick throughout the whole of their pregnancy.

Nausea & vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) is very common, on average it affects 70% of pregnant women to a greater or lesser extent.  About 45% of pregnant women suffer from nausea with vomiting while an additional 25% suffer with nausea only.

85% of women have two episodes of nausea per day and 55% have three or more episodes per day.  Frequent eating reduces the nausea of NVP in 50% of women.

30% of pregnant women in paid employment need time off work due to NVP and one in 150 pregnant women will need to be admitted to hospital because they have “hyperemesis gravidarum” (severe pregnancy sickness).

However, there are lots of things that you can do to minimise the symptoms:

  • Small, frequent snacks can help alleviate the symptoms. Avoid large meals, especially those high in fat, as they will put a greater strain on your digestive system.
  • Don’t let your stomach remain empty for more than a couple of hours. Have a dry crispbread, cracker or piece of plain toast to keep your system ticking over.
  • Keep dry crackers by your bed and eat one or two before getting up in the morning. If you wake in the night, have a small snack to help prevent sickness in the morning.
  • Get someone else to cook for you – avoid cooking smells.
  • Fruit or savoury foods seem to be better at preventing nausea than sweeter snacks.
  • Go with any cravings you have (within reason).
  • Ginger has been shown to help relieve sickness. It’s safe to use in pregnancy and you can take it in several forms – ginger tea, ginger ale or ginger biscuits.
  • Acupressure bands may help.
  • Try complementary therapies such as acupuncture or homoeopathy
  • www.morningsicknesshelp.com/preggiepop.html
  • www.threelollies.com

Keeping a daily diary of your symptoms will enable you to be prepared to eat at those nausea-free times. The worse the NVP the shorter are these nausea-free intervals so it is important to be ready for them.  If you cannot face a meal keep nibbling your favourite food, especially when nausea threatens. Stop eating as soon as your stomach feels full.

Rest, preferably lying down is a really important way to help the symptoms of NVP.  Pregnancy sickness is like motion sickness in this respect, even small movements of the head, as in brushing your teeth, can make NVP worse.

Certain risk factors may make NVP more common:

  • If you are having a female baby.
  • If this is your first pregnancy.
  • If you or your mother or sister have had nausea and vomiting in previous pregnancies.
  • If you are having twins or another multiple pregnancy.
  • If you have a history of motion sickness.
  • If you have a history of migraines.
  • If you have experienced nausea when taking the combined oral contraceptive pill.
  • If you are stressed or anxious about something.
  • If you are obese.
  • If you are a younger woman.

Remember pregnancy sickness won’t threaten your baby’s well-being as long as you’re able to keep some food down, and drink plenty of fluids but do let your midwife know that you are experiencing NVP.

If you are taking a folic acid supplement try to take it at the time of day when you’re most likely to keep it down.

Note: Generally, you should not use over-the-counter remedies for sickness and vomiting whilst you are pregnant. This is because their safety and effectiveness for sickness and vomiting in pregnancy is uncertain.

More information can be found at: www.pregnancysicknesssupport.co.uk

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3 Responses to "Pregnancy Sickness"

I had Hyperemesis. I lost 3 stone in 6 weeks & was terrified to go into hospital as I thought the medical staff would think I was mad.

I eventually gave in & the staff couldn’t have been better/nicer to me. I was on drips for a week, had an e-coli infection, veins collapsing/receding.

I was terrified something would go wrong with the baby & i refused anti-sickness drugs but, at the end of it I had a bouncing 9lb girl.

That sounds awful – really extreme, but you obviously had a terrible infection. Thank you for sharing your story with the wonderful end result and the positive care that you received.

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