Nausea is a common ailment in pregnancy. During the first trimester it occurs in 80% -85% of pregnant women and in 52% of cases it is associated with vomiting.
Nausea in pregnancy usually begins before 9 weeks of pregnancy. For most women, it disappears by the 14th week of pregnancy while, for some women, it lasts several weeks or months. For a small circle, unfortunately, it lasts throughout gestation.
Their appearance is mainly due to hormonal factors: the increase in the levels of the beta hormone HCG and estrogen.
One of the roles of these pregnancy hormones is to raise metabolism and thus burn carbohydrates faster. If they are not replenished with the diet, one goes into a sugar deficit and therefore one of the symptoms of deficiency is nausea.
Other factors that can make nausea in pregnancy worse include:
- multiple pregnancy
- excessive fatigue
- emotional stress
- frequent trips
Generally, nausea is felt most in the morning, upon awakening. However, many report “attacks” throughout the day and in variable form. In fact, some are only sensitive to certain smells, while others have frequent bouts of vomiting in addition to nausea.
Rarely, nausea in pregnancy is severe enough to progress to a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. This condition occurs when nausea and vomiting are so severe that they can cause severe dehydration or result in loss of more than 5% of pre-pregnancy body weight. Hyperemesis gravidarum may require hospitalization.
If you suffered from nausea during one pregnancy, don’t say that you have to suffer from it the same way in the next.
Prevent or reduce nausea in pregnancy
The nausea of the first weeks of pregnancy can be very annoying and also compromise the work activity of the expectant mother if they are strong and persistent.
However, there are some measures that can greatly improve the situation. Here are a few.
- try to eat a little something before you get up from bed.
- try not to have never an empty stomach: this does not mean that you have to gorge yourself on food but avoid being left on an empty stomach
- try to eat that solid foods contain carbohydrates: pasta, rice, bread, cereals, potatoes. Avoid eating foods that are too fatty, too spicy, or contain too much liquid.
- try to chew slowly in order to promote digestion by the stomach
- try to divide the meals: instead of having 3 large meals a day, it is better to make 6 light meals, still taking the foods you need
- eating a small snack before going to bed in the evening and perhaps keeping a couple of biscuits on the bedside table in case of nausea during the night
- some recommend eating popsicles
drink water before and after meals
ventilate your home and work space to eliminate odors that cause nausea
Clearly with experience we learn to understand which foods we can tolerate and which ones we just can’t digest and that make us run to the bathroom.
Nausea can affect any pregnant woman but becomes more likely if:
- suffer from car sickness, suffer from nausea in case of migraine, or in the presence of some particular smells or tastes or in case of estrogen intake (for example by taking birth control pills)
- you have suffered from nausea during a previous pregnancy
- you are pregnant with twins
When to worry?
Morning sickness can be quite a serious complaint (severe hyperemesis gravidarum) when it prevents you from eating and hydrating.
This way you risk dehydration. So if you have been unable to eat or drink for 1-2 days, you should definitely go to your gynecologist or midwife. In fact, in the most serious cases hospitalization is required.
Treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy depends on the severity of the disorder and is focused on improving symptoms while minimizing the risks to the mother and fetus. Therapies range from dietary changes, to drug treatment or hospitalization, in the most severe cases.
There are several studies on the effectiveness of ginger, acupuncture and acupressure in the P6 point (in Chinese medicine the P6 point is a point located about three fingers from the crease of the wrist, on the inside), antihistamines, vitamin B6 and B12.
In the Physiological Pregnancy Guide published by the Ministry of Health and Higher Institute of Health we read that
Among the available pharmacological treatments aimed at reducing nausea and vomiting, antihistamines are effective. Taking these drugs is associated with sleepiness. Ginger is among the effective non-drug treatments for reducing nausea and vomiting, but its safety in pregnancy has not been established. For acupressure in point P6 the information is not definitive.
We remind you that it is recommended to take any type of drug during pregnancy only after consulting your doctor. Each therapy must be decided together with the attending physician.
Bustos M, et al. (2018). Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy-what’s new? DOI:
10.1016 / j.autneu.2016.05.002
Morning sickness: Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.
Physiological pregnancy guide