Via Christi OB/GYN Erin McNulty, MD, knows about morning sickness. She sees patients with it often at her Pittsburg practice.
But she also is a mother of two and had it herself, both times.
“I know how expectant mothers feel,” she says. “I was one myself.”
What Dr. McNulty wants all women to know — whether they’re her patients, or not — is that it’s perfectly normal.
“You’re more normal if you have morning sickness than if you don’t,” she says.
According to Dr. McNulty, up to 80 percent of expectant mothers have symptoms.
Her recommendations for helping to ease them:
Eat small, frequent meals
“Try to have a little something on your stomach,” she says. “Nausea can worsen when you're hungry, which just continues the vicious cycle.”
Be prepared at other times
Morning sickness doesn’t only occur during the morning, Dr. McNulty notes.
Keep some saltine crackers or something very bland on your nightstand or in your desk drawer so that they’re handy as soon as you need them. Carry tiny, easy-to-digest, non-perishable snacks in your purse, as well.
Studies have shown positive results when those experiencing symptoms utilize over-the-counter remedies such as ginger or vitamin B6, as well.
Increase your fluid intake throughout the day
This is important not to ease the symptoms of morning sickness, but to compensate for any fluids you lose if nausea turns into vomiting.
Severe vomiting carries a risk of dehydration and malnutrition.
Most importantly, Dr. McNulty advises, is to not suffer in silence.
“Talk to your doctor,” she says. “We see this all the time — most all of my first trimester visits deal with it in some fashion — so don’t think you’re bothering your provider by bringing it up. We are full of ideas to help you feel better.”
The good news?
“It doesn’t last forever,” Dr. McNulty says. “The vast majority of women start to feel better once they are out of their first trimester. A recent study actually suggests these symptoms can even indicate a healthy pregnancy.”
The bad news?
Occasionally, Dr. McNulty has had a patient with morning sickness so severe, she’s had to quit a job and cease normal daily activity.
“If that’s the case, you really must get in to see your doctor,” she says. “It’s part of prenatal care, it is common, and we can help you find relief.”
She advises those who are unable to keep down fluids or food for more than 24 hours most likely will need IV fluids. The most severe type of morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum, affects up to 3 percent of expectant mothers. This is rare, but can require hospitalization.
“If you are unsure whether you need to be seen, it is always best to call your physician,” Dr. McNulty says. “That’s why we’re here.”