Nausea & Vomiting While Pregnant - Reasons & Home Remedies

Vomiting During Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Rima Sonpal (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

Experience nausea, vomiting, and morning sickness during your pregnancy is quite common. A lot of women go through it, especially in the first trimester. Not everyone goes through it. But it is perfectly normal if you experience it. There are a lot of reasons why an expectant mother may go through bouts of vomiting and nausea and finding its cause can help you in figuring out a way to avoid morning sickness or minimise its impact.

Morning Sickness During Pregnancy

Morning sickness can be one of the initial signs of pregnancy, and makes its first appearance around the 6th week, peaking around the 8th and 9th weeks. Morning sickness generally tapers off by the 12th week and may disappear entirely by the 14th week. Vomiting can occur at any time of the day, as many women report that nausea during pregnancy is worse in the morning while others experience it throughout the day. The intensity may vary from one woman to another, and the queasiness may come and go without warning.

Apart from the uncomfortable feeling, morning sickness or even mild nausea is enough to leave you feeling exhausted and will wear you down quickly. Mothers-to-be get miserable at the thought of the approaching morning nausea and hate to leave the bed, fearing another vomiting session at the start of the day.

Is Vomiting During Pregnancy Normal?

Although morning sickness is not a very pleasant experience, it is considered to be normal during a healthy pregnancy. This pregnancy-related condition affects a majority of pregnant women, with the symptoms reducing as time passes by. However, you should immediately get in touch with your doctor if the severity and frequency of vomiting increases. If one persistently vomits through the day and loses weight, she runs the risk of dehydration. Also, if this condition is ignored or left untreated, the baby and mother’s health might be compromised.

What Are the Causes of Vomiting and Nausea During Pregnancy?

While there is no single cause responsible for vomiting and nausea in pregnancy, there are a few that are common and affect a majority of pregnant women. The increased hormone levels of hCG is one common reason for vomiting during pregnancy. Also, digestion loses efficiency as the muscles of the digestive tract relax with high levels of oestrogen and progesterone in the body. Pregnancy also enhances the sense of smell, which makes women react to the faintest scents around them. During such a time, you may feel like skipping meals, and this could lead to a nauseous and empty feeling.

Let us examine a few probable causes of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy in detail:

1. Rise in hCG Levels: The Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) hormone rises quickly during the early stages of pregnancy. The rise of hCG can be linked to nausea and vomiting as the timing of both the occurrences is quite close, especially since the nausea peaks around the same time.

2. Multiple Gestations: Carrying twins or triplets pushes the hCG levels higher, leading to bouts of nausea.

3. Oestrogen: Like other hormones, oestrogen levels go up too, especially during the initial stages of pregnancy, and are a possible cause of morning sickness.

4. Growing Sensitivity to Smells and Odour: Newly pregnant women can often smell things from afar and are easily overwhelmed by certain aromas, which could trigger their gag reflex in an instant. Research points out that this could be a result of higher oestrogen levels.

5. Sensitive Digestion: Few women are able to handle the changes in the early phases of pregnancy, especially when the digestive tract becomes sensitive towards all kinds of food and their tastes. Also, the presence of Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the stomach stimulates vomiting and causes nausea.

6. Stress: Vomiting and nausea can also be a result of stress or rather a response to stress. Women who are psychologically predisposed to having morning sickness are more likely to experience it than others.

7. Maternal Genetics: Women whose mothers experienced morning sickness are more likely to experience it.

8. History of Motion Sickness: Women who suffer from nausea and migraines are more likely to experience morning sickness.

9. High Intake of Fat: Women who consume higher quantities of unsaturated fats before pregnancy are more likely to experience nausea and morning sickness.

Will It Affect Your Baby?

Mothers-to-be are often worried about nausea and vomiting affecting the babies, but generally mild bouts of vomiting do not harm the growing foetus. However, it is best to consult your doctor if the symptoms continue beyond the 14th week to ensure that foetal growth and development are not hampered.

A condition called hyperemesis gravidarum or severe kind of morning sickness that can cause unexplained weight-loss and upset electrolyte balances, due to a lot of vomiting. When this happens, it is best to inform the doctor, as leaving it untreated could harm the baby.

How To Stop Vomiting & Nausea During Pregnancy?

How to prevent vomiting in pregnant women is a question that troubles a lot of expectant mothers and women are anxious to get rid of this extremely uncomfortable and queasy feeling. Treatment can be divided into natural and medical options, and both have their own advantages when administered. Check the following remedies to ease morning sickness and make life a bit more bearable:

Home Remedies For Nausea During Pregnancy

  • Follow a comfortable routine

Pregnant women are already harried lot, and it is best not to pack too many things into a day, so try and space out your tasks throughout the day. Stress and tiredness will worsen the feeling, so resting and taking time off work are bound to help you.

  • Avoid the kitchen

Begin your day by chewing on a few dry biscuits or cookies, and spend some time in bed resting, before you get on with your routine. Keep a fresh stock of toast or biscuits by your bedside to avoid a trip to the kitchen. Women, pregnant or not, find it difficult to stay out of the kitchen, but if kitchen and food smells are triggering nausea attacks, then ask for external help (hiring a cook might be a good option).

  • Eat all that you can at your convenience

As long as you are able to keep the food down, your baby is safe and protected. Avoid spicy, oily, and fatty foods as they can aggravate your current condition. Eat in small portions, but eat often. You will soon learn the kind of food that suits you and things that don’t. Foods rich in Vitamin B6 like brown rice, sweet potato, banana, corn, chicken (if you are a non-vegetarian) and walnuts, are highly suggested. These are better than supplements that could induce vomiting.

  • Stay hydrated

Drink water at regular intervals to keep your body hydrated as this is known to relieve symptoms of morning sickness as well as problems like indigestion, heartburn, and acidity. Adding the juice of a fresh lime to the water also helps to avert the queasy feeling, as does drinking barley water. Aerated drinks, coffee, and tea should not be considered as a part of your liquid intake as they are diuretics.

Stay hydrated

  • Try yoga:

Connect to a trained prenatal yoga instructor to help you practice simple relaxation techniques like yoga nidra (deep relaxation) and shavasan (relaxation pose). You can practice yoga throughout your pregnancy as it will help you in keeping your mind and body calm and reducing the stress levels.

  • Sniff a fresh scent

Certain smells and scents will turn your tummy and make you rush to the nearest washroom, so it is advisable to keep a bottle of fresh lemon extract in your handbag to get a whiff of freshness. This is especially helpful when you are in a crowded place or are unable to rush to an open space.

  • Ginger- the superfood

Touted as a stomach soother for ages, ginger is ideal for bringing down morning sickness and vomiting and is known for being at the top of the list of home remedies for nausea during pregnancy. You could add a thin slice of ginger to hot water or your daily cup of tea. Taking ginger in various forms like ginger candy, gingerbread, or adding ginger to a soup can be helpful. It is, however, not recommended if your doctor has prescribed anticoagulant drugs for blood clots.

  • Try sour food

Many women find sour food like lemons, tamarind, amla (gooseberry), and pudina (mint) soothing and helpful in keeping nausea at bay. Plain lemonade can do wonders for your system, while tamarind in the form of juice or chutneys is also a popular option. A fresh sprig of mint can be refreshing, so keep a few in the refrigerator to tide over a particularly difficult morning.

  • Lying down

One of the simplest solutions to alleviate morning sickness and avoid beginning your day with vomiting is to stay in bed. Doctors recommend staying in bed when nausea strikes. Put on dark blinkers, if you like, and draw those thick curtains to keep the sunlight out. Rest can do wonders to you and help you to address the issue without much effort.

  • Experiment with aromatherapy:

Scents such as lemon, orange, and mint are great to ward off that nauseous feeling. Pour a few drops of an essential oil into a diffuser and inhale for some time. You can also sprinkle a few drops on your handkerchief when you travel outside.

Medical Treatment for Vomiting During Pregnancy

If the severity of vomiting and nausea increases, your doctor could prescribe medications that will reduce nausea, and help you to retain your food and fluid intake. These medications include:

  • Antacids for the absorption of stomach acid and prevention of acid reflux.
  • Metoclopramide to assist the stomach in pushing the food to the intestines.
  • Phenothiazine for severe vomiting and nausea symptoms.
  • Antihistamines to keep motion sickness and nausea at bay.
  • Vitamin B-6 supplements are also helpful in relieving morning sickness.

Keep in mind that these medicines should be taken only after a consultation with your doctor.

When Should You Call the Doctor?

You should call your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Light-headedness or dizziness
  • Fever
  • Infrequent urination
  • Abdominal pain
  • Frequent headaches
  • Inability to keep the food down

Reach out to your doctor before your condition worsens any further. Severe morning sickness may require hospitalisation, and getting intravenous fluids might be necessary to address dehydration.

As an expectant mother, do not worry as you are not alone in this battle against morning sickness during pregnancy, and more than 70% of women experience nausea and vomiting during their pregnancy.

Also read: How To Overcome Pregnancy Fears

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