Pregnancy Health: Severe Morning Sickness

Dr. Elizabeth Pryor answers the question, Are there any natural remedies for severe morning sickness?

Question

I'm four months pregnant and have severe morning sickness. I was hospitalized for a few days, and my physician prescribed two drugs, Phenergan and Pepcid, to prevent me from constantly vomiting. Though my doctor says the drugs are safe, I'm worried about possible effects they may have on my unborn baby. Aren't there any totally safe and natural remedies out there to help alleviate severe morning sickness?

Answer

Nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy -- known as morning sickness -- occurs in up to 70 percent of women, so you are not alone. Typically it starts around 4 to 8 weeks and continues until around 14 to 16 weeks. It's caused by an increase in a pregnancy hormone called beta hCG. Morning sickness improves after four months or so because the hormone becomes less abundant at that time.

The drug Phenergan is frequently used for nausea. There are no studies to prove or disprove its safety. Anecdotally, there are no reports of harm to the fetus. Pepcid is a relatively new drug but, again, there are no reports of problems. There is no apparent controversy in the literature regarding the safety of these drugs in pregnancy. These drugs are commonly used and provide some relief, but other natural remedies are emerging that can aid you through this difficult period.

Natural remedies include wrist acupressure (seasickness wrist bands) which you can purchase at any drugstore.

Additionally, an article in the April 2001 Obstetrics and Gynecology noted the benefit of gingerroot, which can be found at your local health store. Some patients receive relief with vitamin B6. Supportive measures include small, frequent meals and avoiding foods and smells that trigger nausea (this may include the smell of meat cooking or certain perfumes).

It's important to keep some food in your stomach all the time -- I know it seems backward to need food when you're nauseated -- but if you get "acid stomach" it's much worse. I recommend you keep dry crackers at your bedside. The moment you wake up, eat a couple crackers before getting out of bed.

Morning sickness generally does not affect the baby or mother unless it is a severe form that persists well into the pregnancy.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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