Morning Sickness: What to Do When Your Body Says No to Food

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Morning sickness is one of the most common side effects of pregnancy. “Most pregnant women experience it to some degree during the first few months, thanks to hormonal changes, and its symptoms can usually be eased with a few dietary changes,” says says Heather Hilkowitz, MD, Hilltop Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Dr. Hilkowitz talks about how common morning sickness is.

Click play to watch the video or read video transcript.

To combat regular morning sickness, try the following:

  • Eat small amounts frequently. This helps prevent the stomach from being empty, which can make nausea worse.
  • Choose dry foods, like crackers.
  • Sip cold, clear drinks.
  • Ask your doctor about taking vitamin B6 or ginger.
Morning Sickness - In Content

When Symptoms are Severe

Sometimes, morning sickness is so severe that it can cause dehydration, weight loss and metabolic changes, which are dangerous for you and your baby.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HEG) is the medical term for severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. “It is not clear what causes HEG, but it could have something to do with hormones,” says Dr. Hilkowitz “We do find that it is more common in multiple pregnancies (twins or more) and in women with migraines. Women with a family history of HEG or who had the condition in a previous pregnancy are also more likely to have it again.”

Dr. Hilkowitz explains severe morning sickness.

Click play to watch the video or read video transcript.

Call your doctor right away if you suspect that you have HEG. The symptoms include:

  • Inability to keep down liquids
  • Nausea that is severe and lasts beyond the first few months
  • Blood in your vomit
  • Inability to empty the bladder
  • Urine that is dark and concentrated, or very little urine
  • Dizziness or fainting spells
  • Extreme thirst
  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Racing, pounding heart

Your doctor may recommend that you try a medication called doxylamineto relieve the nausea. In some cases, alternative treatments such as acupuncture are effective.

Sometimes, morning sickness is so severe that it can cause dehydration, weight loss and metabolic changes

If your situation is severe, your doctor may order tests to rule out other causes of nausea and vomiting, explains Dr. Hilkowitz. You may be admitted to the hospital, at least for a short time, to protect you and your baby. There, you will probably be given intravenous (IV) fluids for hydration, essential vitamins and nutrients and possibly medication to control the nausea. In severe cases, longer hospitalization may be needed.

With proper treatment, HEG can be managed, says Dr. Hilkowitz. The key is to communicate with your doctor if you have concerns, and follow up on your doctor’s advice.

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.

Heather L. Hilkowitz, MD

Heather L. Hilkowitz, MD

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