This is one of the most common symptoms reported by pregnant women. Up to 70% of pregnant women experience nausea during early pregnancy. It is traditionally considered as a sign of pregnancy and usually does not cause any harm to the pregnancy except the discomfort to the mother.
The belief that nausea is a sign of healthy pregnancy is partly true and likelihood of abortion is less among women who suffer from morning sickness. Cause for this distressing symptom is not properly understood. However it is related to a pregnancy hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) which is produced by the placenta. Level of this hormone is higher during early pregnancy when the nausea is also common. In addition women with twin pregnancy or molar pregnancy (an abnormal pregnancy condition) suffer from severe nausea and their hCG hormone level is much higher.
Although this is called morning sickness, many women experience nausea throughout the day. This usually starts around 8th week of pregnancy and lasts until 16 - 18 weeks. It is very uncommon for morning sickness to appear later. If morning sickness appears for the first time after 12 weeks, further tests are necessary to exclude other medical problems.
This does not affect your baby unless you get a severe form of vomiting in pregnancy called Hyperemesis Gravidarum. In Hyperemesis Gravidarum pregnant woman needs admission to hospital because she can not tolerate meals or drinks. It is advisable to seek medical advise in the presence of following symptoms with vomiting
Dark urine or very small volume of urine
Pain in the tummy and fever
Unstoppable, repeated vomiting
Mild nausea and occasional vomiting are common and do not need any treatment. Avoiding trigger factors like foods and smells that cause nausea is helpful. In addition, keep yourself calm by avoiding stresses.
You may try to eat a balanced diet. However, just eat whatever you can cope with if this is not possible. You may be having odd or limited food choices for a sometime. You may only be able to manage crackers, bread or snacks for a month, but try not to worry. There will be enough time for you to eat healthily once you are over your sickness.
Dr. Chaminda Mathota
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