The symptoms of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) can begin as early as the third or fourth week of gestation and in 90% of the cases are gone by week 16. Some women, however, can have NVP for most of their pregnancy. Despite its name, morning sickness is by no means confined to the early hours of the day. For some women, the symptoms are worse in the early morning hours and will abate as the day progresses. In rare circumstances, the symptoms can last all day. In most instances, women who experience morning sickness will do so during the first trimester.
The precise reason why morning sickness occurs is not well understood. It is recognized, however, that there are a number of physical changes taking place during pregnancy and which may account for this condition. Among these are a rise in estrogen, an increase in stress, an enhanced sense of smell and sensitivity to the odors, and an elevation in the level of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This is a hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy and which promotes uterine growth of blood vessels and capillaries in order to sustain the growing fetus. Some studies have shown a close relationship between the levels of hCG during the first trimester and symptoms of nausea.
In most cases, NVP poses no risk to a pregnant mother or her baby, but approximately one percent of women will suffer from a more serious form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum. This is severe and persistent vomiting that may lead to weight loss and dehydration. It is best to consult with your physician in such instances, as medical treatment and possible hospitalization may be required.
There are many non-pharmaceutical options to help lessen the symptoms of morning sickness, such as Vitamin B6 and up to 1,000 mg per day of ginger (or dried ginger root powder equivalent.) Adding protein source to each snack or meal has also been suggested. Eating small, more frequent meals throughout the day, and drinking cold or partially frozen fluids are also reported to be helpful.
Additional suggestions include avoiding foods and smells that trigger your nausea, reducing intake of fatty foods, and getting plenty of rest. Some women also report relief by raising the head of their bed in order to sleep on an incline. Acupuncture or acupressure and hypnosis have been shown only to have mixed results in alleviating the symptoms of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Your physician is in the best position to advise you with respect to these and other issues during your pregnancy.