Morning sickness is the feeling of nausea (sometimes with vomiting) that many women get during their pregnancy. Up to 9 in 10 women will experience morning sickness, and symptoms vary from mild and annoying, to severe - sometimes requiring admission to hospital.
The term "morning" is a bit of a misnomer - most women experience nausea all day long; though many women report vomiting only in the morning. Most women develop symptoms within the first two months of pregnancy and, often, symptoms improve considerably after the first trimester (three months).
It is unclear what causes morning sickness, although theories generally include high hormone levels such as beta-hCG (the "pregnancy hormone"), and alterations to stomach and intestinal motility (that is, the movement of food through the gut). Morning sickness is more common in twin pregnancies (perhaps reflecting the higher hormone levels) and can be worsened by thyroid disorders. Perhaps the only comfort to be found, in this sometimes debilitating condition, is that moderate-to-severe morning sickness appears to be associated with a lower risk of miscarriage.
In the great majority of cases, morning sickness is an unpleasant nuisance, but poses no threat to the mother or her baby. In severe cases, however (termed "hyperemesis gravidarum", or HG), a woman may become profoundly dehydrated and undernourished. Babies generally tolerate poor maternal weight gain in early pregnancy, so problems with baby's growth is rarely seen, even in significant HG. Mothers, on the other hand, may require admission to hospital where they can be rehydrated through a drip, while receiving medicines to reduce their symptoms enough for them to begin to tolerate a normal diet.
Several medicines are available to help you cope with symptoms of morning sickness, if needed. These range from specific vitamins and other non-pharmaceuticals, to over-the-counter and prescription medications, such as:
Speak to your GP or make an appointment if you are finding difficulty in coping with morning sickness symptoms.
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David is a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and undertook his specialist training in Queensland. He is highly skilled in the management of complex and high-risk pregnancies, and has special training in minimally-invasive surgery, endometriosis, pelvic floor and incontinence surgery. David has completed a Master of Reproductive Medicine and is skilled in the assessment and management of fertility problems, and can offer the full range of assisted reproductive treatments. He is a Senior Lecturer with The University of Queensland Medical School, and has published both medical journal and textbook contributions.
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