How can I cope with morning sickness?

Dear Doctor,

I’m pregnant with my first child and it has only been a few weeks but I feel sick all the time. I thought it should just be morning sickness but I find myself sick throughout the day. I can’t stand the smell of many things, including food, and so I do not eat much as I throw up immediately after. How can I get rid of this feeling? Anita

Dear Anita,

Accept my heartfelt congratulations on your first pregnancy. 

It is thrilling to know that you are going to become a mom in the near future. But such sickness deprives you of half the joy.  Morning sickness, along with the anxiety of foreseen responsibilities associated with the arrival of a new baby, hinder the pleasure.

Morning sickness of pregnancy mostly occurs during the first trimester and gradually subsides over time. In fact, in many women, it is the first indication of pregnancy even before missing a period. However, some suffer till later in pregnancy and even up to delivery. The sickness ranges from only nausea to nausea with vomiting and even severe vomiting, needing hospitalisation.  Though called morning sickness, it can occur any time of the day, including evening.

The exact cause of morning sickness is not known. But it is said to be due to the effect of rising levels of the pregnancy hormone i.e. human chorionic gonadotropin.

If the nausea and or vomiting is mild, ignore it. One should avoid hot and spicy foods that can cause dyspepsia. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated products.  Even excess intake of soda is not good. Frequent small meals are better than one or two heavy meals.

Focus should be on balanced nutritious food that should supply adequate amount of necessary nutrients, particularly iron and calcium.

If the problem persists or interferes with quality of life, one can take tablets for the nausea and vomiting on advice of a doctor or nurse. Morning sickness should not be neglected. It can affect the nutrition of the mother-to-be and also affect the nutrition and growth of the unborn baby.

 Dr. Rachna   Pande is a specialist in internal medicine.