You heard that it is a “morning thing”, so why do you also throw up at 6 p.m.? Your sister told you it would go away by three months of pregnancy.  So why doesn’t it get any better by five months?

Morning sickness, also called Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy (NVP), affects up to 85 percent of pregnant women.  In 1995 The Motherisk Program established the first ever NVP Helpline (1-800-436-8477), which is still, 19 years later, the only such service worldwide.

About NVP

NVP affects women differently, ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms of NVP include nausea, retching and/or vomiting. NVP usually begins between four to nine weeks of pregnancy.  For most women, it eases by the end of the first trimester, between 12 to 16 weeks. For some women it may continue for several weeks or months, and a few may suffer throughout pregnancy.

If nausea and/or vomiting begin at 10 weeks pregnancy or later, talk to your doctor — this may be due to other causes. The causes of morning sickness are unknown, but the agent (or agents) that causes it is secreted by the placenta.  Women who have morning sickness until birth report that the nausea goes away the minute the placenta is delivered.  

Is NVP a sign of psychological problems?

None whatsoever! People may tell you that it’s all in your head, or morning sickness is a sign of rejecting the baby. These statements are false.  

When should I be concerned?

See your doctor if the following occurs:

  • You are not able to keep food or fluids down for a period of 24 hours or more
  • You are feeling weak or lightheaded
  • Your mouth and lips are dry
  • You produce much less urine than usual, your urine is dark, and you need to pee less than three times a day
  • You do not gain weight — or worse, you lose weight

Are there food and lifestyle suggestions for NVP?

Some foods can ease morning sickness, but they do not work for all women. Eat small amounts every one to two hours. Keep solids and liquids separate.  Eat cold foods instead of hot. Drink colder fluids, including ice chips or popsicles.  Drink two liters (eight cups) of fluids daily.  Do not consume alcohol. Do not skip meals. Eat high-carbohydrate, low-fat foods. Lie down as needed, and get plenty of rest. If smells bother you, air out the house, go outside for fresh air, or sniff lemons, limes or oranges. For constipation, eat more fiber (cereals, granola bars, dried fruit, psyllium). If you have a lot of saliva, don’t swallow. Spit it out. Bottom line: Eat anything that agrees with you and stays down.

What about approved medications for morning sickness?

In Canada, Diclectin® is the only morning sickness medication approved by Health Canada. With its use, there has been a dramatic reduction of hospitalization rates for NVP.