Morning sickness is a pregnancy-related condition marked by mild to severe nausea with or without vomiting. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, morning sickness affects 70 to 85 percent of all pregnant women. Although no one is certain what causes morning sickness, doctors speculate that it is a symptom of an increase in hormones. Furthermore, morning sickness can occur at any point during the day or night, not just morning.
As reported by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, symptoms of morning sickness can manifest as early as two weeks after conception. Most cases begin within the first nine weeks and resolve toward the end of the first trimester at 12 weeks gestation. However, some cases of morning sickness last throughout the entire pregnancy and resolve only after the baby is delivered.
Typical morning sickness is marked by feelings of nausea that can linger throughout the day or become worse during certain times, such as first thing in the morning. Vomiting is another morning sickness symptom. In 0.5 to 2 percent of all pregnancies, morning sickness escalates to a serious condition called hyperemesis hravidarum. Hyperemesis patients suffer from extreme nausea and vomiting to the point medical intervention becomes necessary.
Morning sickness can take a physical, psychological and emotional toll on you. You will probably feel tired and lacking in energy as you try to maintain your pre-pregnancy lifestyle. You might be worried about your health and the health of your developing baby. In extreme cases of morning sickness, such as hyperemesis gravidarum, you could even feel isolated and depressed. Likewise, friends and family members most likely feel powerless to help as they struggle to understand how the condition can take over your life.
Until morning sickness resolves toward the end of the first trimester, there are a few things you can do to help manage the symptoms. Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day so that your stomach doesn’t get too empty and lend to the feeling of nausea. If spicy or rich foods bother you, try bland, carbohydrate-loaded foods. Plain baked potatoes, toast and crackers are good stomach settlers. Avoid foods and other scented items that trigger nausea. Some over-the-counter remedies might help, too. Talk to your doctor about anti-nausea motion sickness bracelets or vitamin B6 tablets. Suck on ginger candies or drink ginger tea. If morning sickness is especially severe, your doctor might hospitalize you for IV therapy and prescribe anti-emetic medications.
Morning sickness does not usually require medical intervention and will go away in time. However, it is easier to treat if you don’t let the condition progress. If you cannot adequately manage the symptoms by changing your dietary habits or with over-the-counter remedies, talk with your health care provider. Call your health care provider immediately if your urine is scant or dark-colored, you feel dizzy or lightheaded upon standing, you can’t keep liquids down, you’re losing weight, your heart races or pounds in your chest, or you vomit blood.
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