15 Facts You Should Know about Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy

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Nausea Vomiting Pregnancy Facts

The vast majority of pregnant women experience some nausea – ranging from very mild to very severe, and from a few trigger foods or smells to just about constant nausea. The severe nausea and repeated vomiting called Hyperemesis Gravidarum is, thankfully, more rare – and dangerous.  Here are 15 facts you should know about nausea and vomiting (N&V) during pregnancy and how to tell N&V from Hyper (extreme) emesis (vomiting) Gravidarum (in pregnancy). Then see tomorrow’s blog post for 15 things you can do to cope with it.

Everything you need to know about nausea and vomiting during pregnancy – but were too sick to ask:

  1. Nausea affects almost 90% of women during pregnancy, ranging from mild nausea when confronted by specific smells (my trigger was garlic) to near-constant nausea from non-specific causes that leads to vomiting.
  2. Although nausea and vomiting (N&V) during pregnancy are often called ‘morning sickness,’ the symptoms do not only occur early in the day. Up to 80% of pregnant women with N&V in pregnancy feel sick throughout the day.
  3. If you experience nausea when you take birth control pills or other hormones, are prone to motion sickness or migraines, you may be more likely to have N&V during pregnancy.
  4. N&V in pregnancy usually begins by 5 or 6 weeks, peaks at 9 weeks, and resolves by 16 to 18 weeks.
  5. Studies have shown that pregnant women who have some degree of N&V experience fewer miscarriages and stillbirths than women who don’t.
  6. Unfortunately, about 20% of pregnant women have N&V up until the 3rd trimester and 5% of pregnant women experience it right up to delivery.
  7. In most cases, N&V does not have any effect on the health of the pregnant mother or the baby.
  8. When severe nausea and multiple episodes of vomiting occur daily and prevent the pregnant woman from eating and drinking, more serious complications can occur.
  9. Weight loss is the most common complication. See your health care provider if you lose more than 5 pounds.
  10. Dehydration is the most dangerous complication.
  11. Infrequent urination, urine that is dark-colored, dizziness when you stand up are all symptoms of dehydration. See your health care provider if you are experiencing these symptoms.
  12. You should see your health care provider if you cannot keep down any food or drink for more than 12 hours.
  13. If your N&V are severe, your health care provider will check your weight, blood pressure, urine, and blood for abnormal findings and perform an ultrasound to take a look at your baby.
  14. If you have N&V with one pregnancy, it is likely that you will experience it again in your next pregnancy. If you do not have N&V during pregnancy, it is likely that you will not have it in your next pregnancy.
  15. Even in women with severe Hyperemesis Gravidarum, although their babies may be small or underweight, they are usually otherwise healthy.

So now you know.

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Kristine Shields
Dr. Kristine Shields is an Ob/Gyn Nurse Practitioner with a doctorate in Public Health. She is a women's health advocate dedicated to providing evidence-based information to pregnant and breastfeeding women and their health care providers so they can make informed treatment decisions.

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