Severe Morning Sickness
Mystie Johnson, MD, is an OB/GYN on staff at Banner Estrella Medical Center. Her office can be reached at (623) 936-1780.
Question: I know morning sickness is common during pregnancy, but what should I do if the vomiting and nausea become severe?
Answer: Morning sickness affects more than half of all pregnant women and can actually occur at any time of day. It’s likely the result of an increase in hormones and physiological changes in the body. In fact, some studies suggest morning sickness may be a good sign of placental development. For most women who experience morning sickness, it begins around the sixth week of pregnancy and begins to subside near the end of the first trimester.
Some common techniques for reducing symptoms include eating small meals, avoiding spicy foods, snacking on saltines, and getting plenty of rest. Your doctor may have other suggestions.
Many women worry about the nausea and vomiting and how it will affect their baby. Typically, as long as mom remains hydrated and focuses on nutrition when she can eat, morning sickness isn’t harmful to mom or baby.
However, for some pregnant mothers, excessive morning sickness can be a sign of a more serious condition, known as hyperemesis gravidarum. Severe vomiting, weight loss and an electrolyte imbalance are symptoms of this condition, and if left untreated, can cause harm to both the mother and baby. If hyperemesis gravidarum is not properly managed, babies have a higher likelihood of abnormal growth, preterm birth and low birth weight. Fortunately, some cases can be treated with rest and dietary adjustments. In extreme cases, the mother-to-be may need to be hospitalized to receive intravenous fluids.
Contact your health care provider if your symptoms worsen, you are unable to keep any food or fluids down, if vomiting is accompanied by fever or pain, or if you continue fighting symptoms well into your second trimester.
It is important to keep your physician informed of your concerns and condition. The earlier a pregnancy-related illness, such as hyperemesis gravidarum, is diagnosed and treated, the more likely you and your baby are to avoid major complications and enjoy a healthy pregnancy.