They occur in almost one in two pregnancies, and begin soon after you miss your period. In other words, 4 weeks since your last menstrual period (LMP), or when you're 2 weeks pregnant. They stop when you're between 10 and 22 weeks pregnant.
Nausea often occurs in the morning (hence the popular term "morning sickness") and settles after you've had something to eat.
It's for this reason that some pregnant women put on weight, despite feeling nauseous, because they get a sense of relief when their belly's full!
For others, by contrast, vomiting is so severe that weight loss occurs. Sickness is sometimes accompanied by an embarrassing increase in saliva (known as sialorrhea or ptyalism).
You might also develop an intolerance to certain foods, which trigger vomiting. An aversion to certain foods is reported in 40 to 80% of pregnant women. It can apply to a variety of foods or products such as tea and coffee.
On the other hand, you might experience an appetence for other foods: cravings for lemon, red meat, etc.
Sickness or vomiting doesn't generally have any repercussions on your general health, particularly if you're not suffering from any other digestive problems.
If, however, you're suffering from severe vomiting, you should see a doctor at once to prevent dehydration and to check for any underlying causes.
Advice to relieve sickness and vomiting in pregnancy
- Avoid foods and smells that trigger off the urge to vomit.
- Spread out your meals so your stomach is always a bit full.
- Drink small sips of sparkling water.
- A broth with lots of pepper can sometimes settle nausea.
- If you're vomiting a lot, try switching to "dry" foods such as dry bread and meat without gravy. In contrast, yoghurts and green vegetables might come back up more easily.
- Lemon juice helps to calm some women's sickness.
Medication to use for sickness and vomiting in pregnancy
If you're vomiting lots, your doctor might prescribe an anti-vomiting treatment. The drugs that are most often used are prochlorperazine (Stemetil) and metoclopramide. These drugs are light sedatives so they can leave you feeling drowsy.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, 10 to 25mg, three to four times a day) reduces vomiting and nausea. Combining doxylamine (15mg, three to four times a day) with pyridoxine might also be suggested.
Always seek medical advice before taking any type of medication.
Homeopathy to deal with sickness and vomiting in pregnancy
- Ipecacuanha: if you have persistent nausea that doesn't go away after vomiting;
- Symphoricarpus: if the slightest movement triggers vomiting and your symptoms ease when you're lying on your back;
- Colchicum: if seeing or smelling certain foods triggers nausea.
Sickness and vomiting are often aggravated by changes to your general state of health and mind. The use of other remedies might therefore be necessary to treat certain symptoms. The following homeopathic remedies may help:
- Sepia: if you're tired;
- Ignatia amara: if you're anxious;
- Nux moschata: if you fall asleep at any time of day.
Speak to your doctor or a fully qualified practitioner before taking any natural medicine.
Osteopathy to treat sickness and vomiting in pregnancy
Osteopathic treatment can help with digestive problems. The osteopath will work on balancing the following two systems: the parasympathic nervous system and the sympathic nervous system.
The goal is to rebalance tissue tension on different levels: improve joint mobility and the sliding of structures amongst themselves (skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, as well as the liver, stomach, intestine, etc.).
For more information and to find support, visit the Pregnancy Sickness Support website: www.pregnancysicknesssupport.co.uk
Pregnancy Sickness Support also offers a helpline: 024 7638 2020