Can Pregnancy Vomiting Harm the Baby?
Women suffering from vomiting in pregnancy are often concerned about its effect on the baby.
- As a rule, uncomplicated pregnancy vomiting or morning sickness does not cause any harm to the baby. In fact, uncomplicated pregnancy vomiting has been associated with lower chance of miscarriage. However, it does not follow that if a woman does not suffer from morning sickness she is more likely to have a miscarriage.
- In case of severe pregnancy vomiting or hyperemesis gravidarum the risk of pre-term labor and low birth weight baby does increase.
- With adequate treatment and correction of dehydration and weight loss, chances of complications are minimized.
- In spite of excessive vomiting if there is a weight gain of more than 7 kg (approximately 15 pounds) during pregnancy, a woman may be expected to deliver a normal healthy baby.
Home Treatment for Pregnancy Vomiting
Mild pregnancy vomiting is usually manageable at home with simple measures. It may still be advisable to talk to your health care provider when you go for your routine prenatal checkup. More severe symptoms definitely need to be brought to your doctor’s notice as early as possible. Never ignore severe pregnancy vomiting in an attempt to manage it within the home environment. The cause of the vomiting may not be related to pregnancy and could require immediate medical treatment.
Some of the measures that you may try to reduce the extent of vomiting are listed below.
Meals and Eating Habits
- Eat tiny portions of dry food, such as one or two crackers, before getting out of bed.
- Taking small frequent meals.
- Avoiding lying down immediately after a meal.
- Drink fluids often, especially in between meals, to prevent dehydration. Refer to Oral Rehydration Therapy.
- It is preferable to avoid rich and spicy food.
- Dry or bland food is better tolerated, such as the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, dry toast).
- Avoiding anything that brings on nausea and vomiting, such as any particular odor or foods and drinks.
Rest, Relaxation and Lifestyle
Vomiting during pregnancy may at times be associated with high stress levels. The following measures may be helpful.
- Adequate rest. Do not sleep for too few hours. Nap during the day if you feel that you need it but do not let it disturb you night time sleeping pattern.
- Emotional support from a partner, friends and family can help reduce anxiety associated with pregnancy.
- Reducing stress does not mean that you have to stop your daily activities. Focus on stress management and learn relaxation techniques so as to avoid anti-anxiety medication.
- Regular exercise such as taking short walks, especially after a meal, aids with digestion and is a good stress reliever.
- Avoid smoking, including inhaling second hand smoke (passive/secondary smoke).
Nutrition and ‘Natural’ Remedies
- Eating food with high content of vitamin B6, such as peas, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds may help.
- Changing the dose of prenatal vitamins, if so advised by the doctor, and taking it along with food.
- Many women report some relief by using ginger as a tea, seasoning or even as a soda. Consult with your doctor before trying any herbal remedies. Although herbs are though to be safe, it has a direct chemical effect on the body can could jeopardize your pregnancy or harm the baby. Even herbs that are used in cooking can be harmful if ingested in large amounts.
- Wearing acupressure wrist bands or applying pressure on the inside of the wrist with the thumb may provide some relief.
- Hypnosis should only be considered under professional guidance and with the approval of your doctor
- Drugs to prevent vomiting should be taken only if advised by the doctor.
When to Seek Medical Help for Pregnancy Vomiting
- If vomiting is distressing and does not improve or gets worse after trying home remedies.
- If there is vomiting more than 3 times a day.
- If excessive vomiting continues for more than 24 hours.
- Signs of dehydration such as dry lips and mouth, dry skin, loss of skin turgor (tenting of the skin on pinching it up), dizziness, and weakness are present.
- Other symptoms are present along with vomiting, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, fever, or blood in the vomit.
- If there is excessive weight loss.
- Vomiting continues even after 4 months of pregnancy.
Treatment of Pregnancy Vomiting
- Pyridoxine or vitamin B6 supplements often help with pregnancy vomiting but this should be approved by your doctor.
- Other drugs to control vomiting (anti-emetics) may be prescribed by your doctor if necessary. Use of drugs such as promethazine, metoclopramide, and ondansetron has not shown any adverse effects on the growing baby.
- If the vomiting does not respond to home treatment and there are signs of dehydration, intravenous fluids may need to be given.
- Other treatments will depend upon the cause of pregnancy vomiting, if it can be isolated. Refer to Vomiting During Pregnancy for a list of obstetric and non-obstetric causes.
- In case of hyperemesis gravidarum, where there is severe vomiting and dehydration, prolonged hospitalization may be necessary.