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Morning sickness is a common symptom of pregnancy and is marked by nausea and occasional vomiting. Despite the name, morning sickness can cause discomfort at any time of the day.
Morning sickness usually happens within the first four months of pregnancy and is often the first sign that a woman is pregnant.
There are various ways to alleviate morning sickness, and complications are rare.
There is no one cause of morning sickness during pregnancy, and severity varies among women. Increased hormone levels during the first few weeks of pregnancy is among the most common causes. Reduced blood sugar is another common cause of morning sickness.
Other factors can exacerbate morning sickness. These include:
Morning sickness can vary between pregnancies. While you may have had severe morning sickness during one pregnancy, in future pregnancies it may be very mild.
Nausea and vomiting can easily cause a loss of appetite. Many pregnant women worry that this will harm their babies. Mild morning sickness is generally not harmful.
Women who experience morning sickness well beyond the first three to four months of their pregnancies should speak with their doctors. Also seek help if you aren’t gaining any weight during pregnancy.
Morning sickness is usually not severe enough to hinder fetal growth and development. Some pregnant women experience severe vomiting and weight loss because of the nausea. This is called hyperemesis gravidarum. This condition causes electrolyte imbalances and unintentional weight loss. If left untreated, this condition may eventually harm your baby.
Call your doctor immediately if you experience:
Severe bouts of morning sickness generally require hospitalization. Hyperemesis gravidarum often requires intravenous (IV) fluids for rehydration.
Your doctor may prescribe supplements or medications to alleviate nausea and to help you retain foods and fluids. Medications your doctor may prescribe include:
Do not take these medications on your own without first talking with your doctor.
Some people find that alternative remedies may also help relieve morning sickness. Make sure you only try these after first discussing them with your doctor. These remedies include:
Based on your symptoms, your doctor may order some tests to make sure that you and your baby are safe. These include:
Urine tests can determine whether you are dehydrated.
Your doctor may order blood chemistry tests that include:
These tests will determine whether you are:
Ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of your baby. The doctor then uses these images and sounds to check that your baby is developing at a healthy rate.
Taking the following steps may help prevent or minimize nausea:
If none of these preventative measures works, or if you experience morning sickness beyond the first three to four months of your pregnancy, it’s important you speak with your doctor. Also, make sure you only try medications and alternative remedies after first discussing these options with your doctor.
Written by: Kristeen Moore
Medically reviewed on: Dec 15, 2016: Rachel Liberto, RN
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