This title is actually misleading since pregnant women can feel nauseous at any time of the day. Usually women experience nausea from early on in their pregnancy until the 16th week of pregnancy. Symptoms can range from very mild nausea for a short part of the day to frequent vomiting. If you don’t feel you are managing its important to discuss your symptoms with a midwife or doctor.
Women with even mild symptoms can find it difficult to manage for many different reasons:
- Some women ask me as a GP whether it will harm the baby. The good news is that in the majority of cases no harm will come to the baby.
- Other women ask whether it can cause them (the mother) harm. Again, usually the answer is no but if the symptoms are very severe, it can due to dehydration and other complications but this is extremely unusual. If women have severe symptoms and seek medical attention they can be helped and this will reduce their risk of harm and their babies risk of harm.
- Others find that it’s really hard to manage at work and want tips on this. It is always worth discussing with your line manager/HR or whoever you feel is most appropriate. It may be that if certain changes are made at work such as starting later or having more breaks or being allowed to have snacks at your desk, it will make things easier for you.
- Others find their mood becomes low because of the symptoms. These women benefit from a variety of different support such as mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy, support groups, discussion with and treatment from their doctor/GP/midwife.
There are many other reasons – the most important tip I would give is to talk about it and get help in whatever form is best for you.
What can I try at home?
- Some days you may not need to do anything special
- Days where your symptoms are worse you can try:
- Eating little and often. Don’t wait too long after waking before eating. Some women even put a dry cracker or ginger biscuit or something similar by their bed to eat before they get out of bed.
- Foods high in carbohydrate seem to help most women – bread sticks, crackers, that kind of thing. Take care to try to find healthy options i.e. don’t go mad on crisps or you will risk weight gain. Remember eating for two is a myth.
- Try to avoid things that trigger your sickness. It might help to keep a diary for a week to see what those things are. Things to think about are an alteration of sleep such as a late night or feeling stressed or a change in your eating pattern such as missing a meal or being more tired than usual.
- Drinking water throughout the day. Some women find drinking a whole glass of water at once can trigger vomiting so instead try sips of water through the day aiming for roughly 2 litres of fluid per day. Water is probably the best thing to drink unless your doctor advises otherwise.
- Have plenty of rest and sleep. Being tired can worsen any pregnancy symptom.
- Ginger can be helpful. So things like ginger biscuits can really help. Take care with ginger supplements as the regulation is patchy on these. Discuss them with a pharmacist before buying.
- P6 wrist acupressure: you can buy acupressure bands in a pharmacy. They are the same ones you can where for travel sickness and are effective for some women.
- Don’t buy over the counter anti-sickness products when you are pregnant without consulting a healthcare professional. If things are so bad that you feel you need a medication, it is usually better to see a doctor.
What happens if I see a doctor?
Face-to-face chat: The doctor will chat and want to hear all your symptoms. Keeping a diary for a few days before seeing them can help you recall them all and help you notice any triggers.
Examination: They will then examine you and do things like a urine test looking for infection and also for ketones which indicate that you are showing signs of starvation i.e. that you cannot keep food down. They are likely also to take observations like your blood pressure and pulse.
Tests: They may then go onto order some blood tests and/or an ultrasound scan looking for signs of dehydration and whether there are any obvious underlying causes for the nausea. Possible things that could cause more nausea include: thyroid problems or having twins.
It’s important to realise that you can vomit for reasons not related to the pregnancy such as gastroenteritis or another type of infection.
What is hyperemesis gravidarum?
This is more severe vomiting which can cause harm to you and if not treated to your baby too. Women with this cannot keep food down for a prolonged period and feel very unwell. The good news is that treatment is available such as anti-sickness medication. A few of these women need hospital admission for intravenous fluids and/or anti-sickness. The majority of women with hyperemesis go on to have healthy babies. Look at the Duchess of Cambridge who has had it twice and has two beautiful babies: http://bit.ly/KateHyperemesis.
If you feel you may have this, get medical help from your doctor/GP/midwife.
Any questions or comments do get in touch @PregnaPouch or PregnaPouch@gmail.com.
The PregnaPouch team
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