Nausea and vomiting can affect up to 80 percent of the pregnant women. It is commonly referred to as morning sickness as the nausea is worse in the morning and eases as the day passes, but nausea or vomiting typically can happen at any point in time during the day. The symptoms vary from mild to severe while being most severe during the first trimester.
Nausea and vomiting may start as early as 4 weeks into pregnancy but usually, it begins around 6 weeks of pregnancy. Over the next month, it tends to grow worse. Women who complain of nausea feel complete relief around 14 weeks. For some, it may take another month to ease up. A very small number of pregnant women continue to feel nauseated until the second and even third trimester.
What causes nausea and vomiting during pregnancy?
No exact and definite answer is known as to what is responsible for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy or why it happens, but probably it is due to the combination of physical and hormonal changes taking place in the body. However, some of the possible causes are:
· Estrogen – Estrogen is a possible cause because along with many other hormones, it increases rapidly during the pregnancy.
· Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) – During early pregnancy, this hormone rapidly rises. No direct link has been established linking hCG to nausea but it is seen that nausea
tends to peak around the time when hCG levels are high. Also, conditions like carrying multiples, increase hCG level in the body and also cause more vomiting and nausea.
· Sensitivity to smell and odours – Pregnancy enhances the sense of smell and certain odours can trigger gag reflex leading to vomiting
· Stress – Women can have nausea and vomiting as a response to stress. However, there is no certain proof for this theory.
· A sensitive stomach – Some women’s digestive tracts can be more sensitive to the changes during early pregnancy. Hence, they are more likely to have nausea and vomiting.
A woman is more likely to feel nauseated and vomit if she is carrying twins or higher multiples. This can be due to the high levels of estrogen, hCG, and other hormones. Same may be the case with someone who had experienced nausea and vomiting in a previous pregnancy. Women who are prone to motion sickness and women who have a history of nausea and vomiting as a result (side effect) of taking birth control pills are also more likely to suffer from morning sickness. A history of a migraine and a family history of nausea and vomiting also increases your chance of experiencing the same.
Mild forms of nausea and vomiting do not affect your baby. However, severe and prolonged vomiting is a reason linked to preterm birth and low weight at birth.
What you can do to help
If you have a case of mild nausea and vomiting, some of these measures are enough to help:
· Eat small snacks and meals frequently so as to not keep your stomach empty.
· Do not lie down right after eating as it slows down the digestion.
· Keep yourself hydrated.
· Get up slowly in the morning. Take your time to rise up and sit on the bed for a few minutes instead of getting out of the bed at once.
· Go out for a walk or sit by a window to get some fresh air.