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Nausea in pregnancy is very common, affecting more than 50% of pregnant women. Though commonly called ‘Morning Sickness’, the symptoms can occur at any time of the day. Nausea of pregnancy usually improves by 14-16 weeks, but can continue throughout the pregnancy for some women. Nausea in pregnancy is usually not harmful to your developing baby, but may become more problematic when associated with consistent vomiting and weight loss.
The cause of Nausea in Pregnancy is not well understood. It may be caused by the elevated hormone levels of pregnancy and their effect on slowing overall gut motility. The GI tract is normally constantly moving food and stomach acid from the stomach, though the GI tract. The effect of slower gut motility can result in a feeling a nausea after eating a large (your standard sized) meal, where food isn’t moving out of the stomach at the same rate. With slower gut motility, stomach acids aren’t moving out of the area at a normal rate either, potentially also causing a feeling nausea when we go 3-4 hours without eating.
As much as it may seem like not eating, because of nausea, feels like the thing you may want to do, feeding your system (causing your stomach and stomach acids to have to churn) is more of the answer for the nausea. Smaller, more frequent meals is what is recommended. Although this feeling of ‘grazing’ for eating (small, frequent meals, instead of a large meal with long breaks between eating) may feel unnatural to some, it may help to relieve the nausea.
Here are some other tips that may help:
- Eat meals slowly and in small amounts every 1-2 hours to avoid a full stomach
- Avoid long periods of time without eating, as the buildup of stomach acids may also increase the feeling of nausea
- Take in a snack before getting out of bed in the morning
- Take in fluids in small amounts, between meals
- Try fluids that are cold, clear and carbonated or sour (ginger ale, lemonade, pop sickles)
- Try small sips of liquids taken in by a straw
- Try a morning snack before brushing your teeth
- Avoid smells that bother you
- Try bland foods, like the ‘BRAT’ diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast)
- Try ginger supplements like ginger ale made with real ginger, ginger teas, or ginger capsules
Find more helpful information on Nausea of Pregnancy at the ACOG/FAQs here:
Suzanne Hall, MD, FACOG (@drsuzyyhall)
Eastside Gynecology Obstetrics, PC
Offices located in Macomb, Roseville, Grosse Pointe, Rochester MI