One of the most common side effects of pregnancy is frequent nausea, possibly with vomiting, widely known as morning sickness. It affects around half of all pregnant women. In fact, morning sickness, along with missed menstrual period, is one of the tell-tale signs of pregnancy, the one that makes a woman go to the doctor’s for a pregnancy test.
The exact cause of pregnancy sickness is not clear. It probably has to do something with hormone changes in a woman’s body. Women who carry twins or triplets tend to suffer more from sickness since their hormones are more disturbed.
Pregnancy sickness - when does it start?
For most women, nausea and vomiting, which are common in the morning but can extend throughout the day too, start somewhere before the ninth week of pregnancy. For most women, nine out of ten, the sickness stops by the time they reach the sixteenth week of pregnancy. It is not uncommon, though, for the morning sickness to last longer than that, for some women even all the way until the baby is born.
The feeling of sickness, nausea or queasiness usually comes in bouts that last from one to four hours, with generally mild symptoms. However, it does significantly affect a woman’s life, causing moodiness, irritability, disruption of normal daily routine, etc.
For a small percent of women, two in every 100, pregnancy sickness is more than a minor nuisance. It is prolonged, with severe symptoms and frequent vomiting, which leads to dehydration, weight loss, malapsorption of nutrients and other problems. Hyperemesis gravidarum can be diagnosed by observing the levels of ketons in urine. In case the diagnosis confirms the condition, the woman suffering from it needs to be admitted to a hospital where she will receive intravenous fluids and nutrients.
Relieving sickness in pregnancy
Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy can be alleviated to some extent. It helps to eat small but frequent meals, with mostly bland food. Certain foods, like spicy, hot or acidic foods, tend to aggravate the sickness.
It is very important to stay hydrated in order to prevent complications that may arise from morning sickness. Plain water in large amounts is highly recommended. If plain water aggravates nausea, it helps to put a slice of lemon or lime in the glass, along with a few ice cubes.
Caffeine-free sodas and carbonated water also bring relief for any kind of sickness, including nausea in pregnancy. Ginger ale, ginger tea and other ginger products are also considered traditional remedies for morning sickness.
Mild or moderate physical activity, fresh air and plenty of rest reduce significantly the nausea bouts in pregnant women.