Nausea during pregnancy is often referred to as morning sickness, though the information website Baby Center reports that for most expectant mothers, it lasts all day. Approximately 75 percent of women experience nausea and vomiting during the first trimester.
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The cause of morning sickness, or nausea during pregnancy, isn’t well known. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, hormonal shifts could be to blame. The hormones human chorionic gonadotropin, estrogen and progesterone all rise during pregnancy. Other physical changes occurring in the body, such as a growing uterus, stress or extra acid in the stomach, could cause nausea during pregnancy.
Onset and Duration
Nausea during pregnancy typically sets in four to six weeks after conception takes place, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. As the first trimester comes to an end, the nausea usually does too. WhatToExpect.com reports that nausea should resolve by 12 to 14 weeks into gestation. For some women, it may last longer while others may not have to deal with it at all. Women who are pregnant with multiples may experience increased nausea.
Treating nausea during pregnancy can be done using diet changes, medications and alternative remedies. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada recommends that women eat crackers first thing in the morning, before their feet even hit the floor. Eating small meals throughout the day can help keep blood sugar stable and help prevent nausea. Avoid smells that are aggravating, and if necessary have someone else do the cooking. Foods that are fatty or very spicy may need to be avoided as well. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that acupressure bands worn on the wrists may help relieve nausea. Acupuncture and ginger have also been helpful for many pregnant women. If medications become necessary, a doctor may prescribe promethazine, ondansetron or metoclopramide.
An extreme case of morning sickness resulting in frequent vomiting is referred to as hyperemesis gravidarum. Women with this condition are unable to keep any food or liquid down, and are at a serious risk of becoming dehydrated. The American Pregnancy Association notes that about 1 percent of pregnant women experience hyperemesis gravidarum. In these cases, women often have to be admitted to the hospital for intravenous fluids to maintain hydration and provide supplemental nutrition.
Some people believe that nausea indicates a problem with the pregnancy, or with the baby. The University of Maryland Medical Center explains that some doctors believe that nausea is actually a good sign, indicating that the necessary hormones are in place for a healthy pregnancy. Also, some mothers believe that the presence of nausea during the first pregnancy destines them to nausea during subsequent pregnancies. This is untrue; approximately one third of women have relief of nausea during subsequent pregnancies.