At London Doctors Clinic, we regularly see women at various stages of pregnancy, to discuss any concerns they may have. One of the most common concerns pregnant women express is regarding morning sickness: "how am I supposed to eat for two if I constantly feel sick?".
In today's blog, we discuss morning sickness: who suffers from morning sickness, at what stage of pregnancy will women experience most symptoms, and how to best manage this nuisance of a condition!
Morning Sickness: Who, What, When, Why?
Morning sickness is nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting during pregnancy, and is very common. It tends to occur more frequently in the early part of pregnancy, although in rare cases can last throughout a woman's pregnancy. Although the name suggests it occurs at the beginning of the day, it can happen at any time of day or night.
Nausea and vomiting are very common symptoms in pregnancy, affecting up to 80% of women in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. We think that the specific hormonal changes that occur in the first 12 weeks are responsible for this.
Is Morning Sickness Dangerous?
While it can be really unpleasant, the good news is that it very rarely harms your baby, and in most cases it will resolve itself.
The symptoms of morning sickness should get better as the pregnancy continues - usually disappearing by the third month of pregnancy, although approximately 10% of women will still experience symptoms later on.
While some women do not find morning sickness to be a problem, others find it has a big impact on their life.
What Can I Do About Morning Sickness?
The first steps in dealing with the symptoms of morning sickness involves changing aspects of your diet and lifestyle. Some suggestions that might be made by your midwife or GP include:
- Avoiding the things that make you sick
- It probably goes without saying that if something makes you feel sick, you'll try and avoid it like the plague!
- In morning sickness, women often have smells/tastes that they cannot stomach.
- Try and figure out what these are, and avoid them at all costs!
- You may feel more nauseous when you are tired, than you are when you're well-rested
- Giving yourself plenty of time in the mornings
- If you regularly feel sick first thing in the morning, taking some extra time to get up more slowly can help.
- Eating something plain like dry toast before getting up can also help.
- Stay hydrated, drink plenty of fluid
- If you've been vomiting, it's especially important to drink more than usual (ideally water!), to maintain hydrated.
- You may find that sipping small amounts is best, especially if you have been vomiting.
- Eat little but often
- Keeping up your food intake is really important during pregnancy but eating smaller amounts in one sitting can help with your symptoms.
- High carbohydrate, low fat-content meals are often best, with simpler foods better tolerated than spicier foods.
- Eating cold meals
- Some women find the smell of hot food makes them nauseous. If this is the case, sticking to cold meals might help
There are also many natural remedies to combat morning sickness, that many pregnant women may swear by.
... And If This Still Doesn't Help?
If you are still struggling with morning sickness, your GP or private GP might prescribe you some anti-sickness medication to help reduce your symptoms.
With certain anti-sickness medicines you will need to keep a close eye out for certain side effects, particularly muscle twitching. Make sure to thoroughly read the leaflet before starting to take a new medication.
If you are experiencing morning sickness, your doctor might prescribe you some anti-sickness medication
Morning Sickness: When Should You Seek Medical Help?
Sometimes women have very severe symptoms of nausea and vomiting that need more urgent medical treatment. You should contact your GP or midwife immediately if:
- You have very dark coloured urine or do not pass urine for more than 8 hours
- Cannot keep food or fluids down for 24 hours
- Feel very weak, dizzy or faint if you stand
- Have tummy pain
- Have a temperature of 38ºC or above
- Vomit blood
Some women experience a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, whereby they suffer from extreme nausea and vomiting, far more so than standard morning sickness. It requires close monitoring and often even hospitalisation. It's really important to still try to eat and drink as much as possible despite this, to avoid malnutrition and dehydration.
So, if you are struggling to successfully manage symptoms of morning sickness, and it's really affecting your day-to-day activities, you should book an appointment in to see a GP, to discuss your symptoms and work out a better way of managing them. With eight private clinics located across Central London, we should never be too far away when you need to find a GP.