Is morning sickness having an impact on your pregnancy? Here are some tips to help you cope.
Waves of nausea, gagging and sensitivity to smells: while most expectant mothers experience these symptoms, they may not fully understand their impact on pregnancy (other than as a warning sign that it’s time for another trip to the ladies’ room).
Morning sickness, also known as nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), is often dismissed as a somewhat trivial and inevitable part of becoming a mother. In reality, NVP is a medical condition affecting 70-85 per cent of pregnant women.
Typical signs of NVP include: nausea, gagging, retching, dry heaving, vomiting as well as odour and/or food aversion. These symptoms generally cease after the 16th to 20th week of gestation. However, about 20 per cent of women continue to experience them late in pregnancy, and five per cent are affected all the way through to the time of delivery. NVP can turn the joy of pregnancy into an ongoing search for the nearest restroom. Respondents to a recent survey of pregnant women reported that NVP had a negative impact on their lives by:
• Reducing their job efficiency (47%)
• Causing them to lose work time (35%)
• Causing them to lose time from housework (25%)
Many pregnant women think NVP symptoms are a normal part of pregnancy and believe that there aren’t any effective treatments. Consequently, they may not seek the guidance of a medical professional and are misinformed about their options for managing NVP.
One mother-to-be says: “I knew morning sickness was to be expected but I felt as if my symptoms were different. My symptoms surfaced so many times throughout the week I was worried my baby wasn’t getting the nutrients she needed.
“I tried all of the diet and lifestyle changes but it wasn’t until I approached my doctor and discussed additional treatments that I found an approach that was right for me.”
Dr Thomas S. Dardarian of Main Line Women’s Health Care Associates, in the United States, says: “It’s important to have a candid conversation about morning sickness with your doctor at the very start of your pregnancy so that these symptoms can be monitored throughout the course of the baby’s development.”
“When left untreated, severe cases of NVP can result in potential impact to the mother and/or baby due to inadequate nutrition or prolonged dehydration. I also encourage women who are thinking about becoming pregnant to discuss their plans with their healthcare provider. There is data suggesting that taking a multivitamin prior to becoming pregnant can reduce the frequency and severity of NVP, enabling women to take control of morning sickness before it starts.”
Morning sickness symptoms can be evaluated using the Pregnancy-Unique Quantification of Emesis (PUQE) scale, a scoring system based on the number of daily vomiting episodes, the length of nausea per day in hours and the number of retching episodes.
As of now, only one medication for NVP has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration where conservative management hasn’t worked (e.g. diet) but expectant mothers should initially try the following tips to manage their symptoms:
• Eating small meals throughout the day rather than a few larger ones
• Sticking to simple or bland snacks in the morning
• Trying foods that are rich in protein, such as peas, beans, lentils, soya beans and peanuts
• Drinking small amounts of fluid often to stay hydrated throughout the day
• Consuming liquids containing ginger such as tea or ginger ale/ginger beer, which can relieve queasiness
• Getting more sleep
• Avoiding rich, spicy or pungent foods and smells
If these methods are insufficient, women may require medication to help control their symptoms. Expectant mothers can also log on to morningsicknessusa.com to learn more about NVP. They can also discuss the condition with their healthcare providers. By listening to their bodies and arming themselves with the facts, mothers can be well-prepared during their pregnancy. – BPT