According to the American Pregnancy Association, more than half of all expectant mothers experience some form of morning sickness—that oft-discussed condition characterized by nausea and vomiting that more accurately should be called “24/7 sickness” because it can occur anytime of the day or night.
Fortunately, for most women the condition is relatively short-lived, with symptoms beginning usually around the sixth week of pregnancy and diminishing sometime around the 12th week. On the other hand, some women deal with it through their entire pregnancy.
The important thing to know, says UT Southwestern Ob/Gyn specialist Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M.D., is that the condition is very common and is almost never harmful to the expectant mom or her baby.
For those in morning sickness’s throes, though, Dr. Horsager-Boehrer suggests trying simple dietary changes and frequently recommends the following two nonprescription remedies before heading to a pharmacist:
- Ginger: Formulations that contain ginger—whether in soda, tea, or popsicle form—can help reduce symptoms
- Vitamin B6 and doxylamine (an over-the-counter antihistamine): A safe medication made from these two ingredients is approved to treat morning sickness symptoms.
“I always advise women suffering from morning sickness to start with dietary changes and eliminate ‘triggers’ that cause or worsen symptoms,” Dr. Horsager-Boehrer says. “Ninety percent of pregnant women with morning sickness symptoms see improvement just by altering their diets.”
For women whose symptoms don’t go away with dietary changes alone, doctors can prescribe medications for avoiding dehydration and significant weight loss, either of which could cause harm to the baby and mom-to-be.
For specific dietary strategies and other advice, visit the Your Pregnancy Matters blog edited by Dr. Horsager-Boehrer.