Health

What to Expect and How to Treat It

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  • Nausea during pregnancy usually begins four to eight weeks into pregnancy.
  • The nausea typically stops after the first trimester but could last throughout the pregnancy for some.
  • To relieve pregnancy nausea, try eating ginger, drinking chamomile tea, or taking Benadryl.
  • Visit the Insider Health Reference Library for more tips.

Nausea is one of the first and most common symptoms during pregnancy. In fact, an estimate 70% to 80% of women have nausea at some point in their pregnancy.

Pregnancy nausea begins between weeks 4 and 8

Nausea typically begins between weeks four and eight of pregnancy and usually lasts until the first trimester. But some women may have nausea throughout their pregnancy.

Despite the name “morning sickness”, nausea can occur at any time of the day during your pregnancy.

“Because this idea of‘ morning sickness ’is common, many women do not report their symptoms,” she says. Cynthie Wautlet, MD, an OB-GYN at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Reporting your symptoms is particularly important since early detection and prevention are the best ways to control nausea.

How to relieve pregnancy nausea

For starters, you can make some simple lifestyle changes to help reduce your nausea such as:

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals: “Eating every two hours – just a small amount – can be easier on the stomach,” says Wautlet. To feel full of these smaller meals, add that protein-rich, nutrient-dense foods help. But you should avoid foods with odors or spices that can trigger your nausea.
  • Exercise: “Getting about 30 minutes of moderate activity a day, even just walking, can be a really good thing,” says Wautlet. While the exact cause is unclear, a small one 2009 study and a small 2011 study, both published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, suggest that pregnant women who exercise in their first trimester are less likely to have nausea in their second trimester.

If your nausea is severe, there are some things you can take that can reduce your symptoms.

  • Doxylamine + Pyridoxine (vitamin B6): This medicine is the most common clinical treatment for pregnancy nausea. It comes as a pill that usually includes a dose of 10 to 20 milligrams of doxylamine and pyridoxine per pill. It should not be taken if you have certain medical conditions and you should not mix them with certain medications, so consult your obstetrician before taking it.
  • Benadryl: This over-the-counter antihistamine is generally taken for allergies, but has also been shown to help reduce the symptoms of nausea and vomiting while pregnant.
  • Ginger: Many small studies have found that one gram of ginger taken daily can reduce the symptoms of nausea and vomiting in a couple of weeks.
  • Chamomile, cardamom and lemon: Some small studies suggests that these may help with nausea, but more research is needed to evaluate their effectiveness.
  • Acupressure: The acupressure point P6, also known as Nei Guan, it is located near the middle of your inner forearm slightly below the pole. A 2018 magazine, published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine found more studies, reporting that applying pressure and massaging the area for a few seconds at a time can relieve nausea.

Who is most at risk for pregnancy nausea?

As far as researchers can understand, there is no cause for pregnancy nausea. But hormones seem to play a role first. In particular, human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG, is released from the placenta after the fertilized egg has been implanted. HCG levels are often measured by pregnancy tests, and increase throughout the first trimester.

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“Pregnancy hormone HCG at higher levels is associated with a greater risk of nausea in pregnancy,” says Wautlet. And it’s not good news if you bring several kids at once.

“Women who have a twin pregnancy or a triple pregnancy have higher levels of that pregnancy hormone,” adds Wautlet, “so they are much more likely to have nausea than a singleton pregnancy.”

Pregnancy nausea can also run in the family. A Study 2016 published in Behavior Genetics compared data from the survey of participating twins and their sisters and found a link between genetics and the likelihood that a woman could develop pregnancy nausea. The probability that a woman would have nausea or vomiting was 73% if her relative also had pregnancy nausea. The data suggest that genetic factors play an important role, and could be a predictive factor in helping to inform pregnant women of their risk.

Symptoms of nausea vary from person to person. In rare cases, women experience severe nausea and vomiting, a situation called hyperemesis gravidarum. “Only about 3% of women at most will progress to get this disorder,” Wautlet says.

Take away the Insider

Nausea during pregnancy is common but this does not mean that you have to suffer for it.

“A lot of women don’t mention it because they think, ‘Oh, that’s normal,'” says Wautlet. “Bring it up and talk to your provider because there are things we can do to help.”


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