The March of Dimes reports more than 50 percent of all pregnant women experience nausea during pregnancy to some extent. If you are lucky, your nausea will subside by the onset of the second trimester, usually around week 12. But for some, nausea doesn’t completely go away until after delivery. The only way to get through the nausea is to learn how to manage it.
Doctors are not exactly sure what causes nausea during pregnancy, but they think it is at least partially due to an increase of hormones. Pregnancy can also heighten your sense of smell and trigger your gag reflex, making you feel sick to your stomach more often. Stress and fatigue contribute to nausea, as well.
Although you can’t prevent nausea during pregnancy, you can manage it with your diet. Eating probably is the last thing on your mind when you feel like vomiting, but an empty stomach can actually make you feel worse. Nausea is especially difficult first thing in the morning, hence the term “morning sickness.” Before you go to bed, eat a high-protein snack, such as 1 oz. of cheese, a hard-boiled egg and 1 cup of low-fat milk. Protein takes longer to digest and will help you stay full longer. Keep a package of salted crackers on your bedside table to nibble on throughout the night and before you get out of bed in the morning. So that you do not overfill your stomach in one sitting and make yourself sick, eat five to six smaller meals during the day. Bland, starchy foods, such as baked white potatoes and rice, help ease an upset stomach. Eat whatever looks and smells good to you, but avoid greasy, spicy and hard-to-digest goods. Don’t forget to stay hydrated. Cold, clear fluids, such as ginger ale, apple juice and plain water, can help quell nausea. However, drink fluids between meals instead of with them. Sucking on ginger candy or chewing mint gum during the day might help, too. And if you find that your prenatal vitamin makes nausea worse, take it before you go to bed.
For mild nausea, your doctor might recommend anti-nausea medications or special pressure-point wrist bands commonly used for motion sickness. If you experience severe or persistent nausea, or if it’s accompanied by severe vomiting, seek immediate help. Hyperemesis gravidarum, which affects up to 2 percent of all pregnant women, is a debilitating condition marked by severe nausea and vomiting. Symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum include, but are not limited to, the inability to keep down food or liquid, rapid weight loss, scant or dark urine, vomiting blood and dehydration.
Mild nausea, and even some bouts of vomiting, does not hurt you or your baby. What it does, however, is make your life miserable until it subsides. You might find that people who have never experienced persistent nausea cannot empathize with what you are going through. Nausea during pregnancy can even make you irritable and create tension between you and your family and friends, or you and the people you work with. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open and to remember nausea is a common symptom of pregnancy that eventually does go away in most cases.
Do not take over-the-counter (OTC) anti-nausea medications without first talking to your physician. Many anti-nausea medications have not been cleared for use during pregnancy by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, your doctor can help you weigh the risk-to-benefit ratio of these medications and find one that works for you.
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