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Nausea and Vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) and Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)

Many pregnant women feel sick (nausea) and, or may vomit during early pregnancy. This can vary from mild to moderate and still be considered part of the normal experience of pregnancy. In mild and moderate NVP women are still able to eat and drink. Around 7 in 10 pregnant women will experience NVP, but they usually feel better after the first trimester.

When nausea and vomiting become severe, lasting for more than a few days, women will find it hard to eat or drink enough. This severe nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). Around 1 in 100 pregnant women will experience HG, although this number may be higher. It may lead to dehydration (lack of fluid in the body) and cause weight loss and vitamin deficiencies.

Managing NVP at home:

I suggest these simple strategies to manage the common symptoms of NVP.

Take it easy: Interventions to improve nausea and fatigue include modification of working patterns, exercise, day time sleeps and an earlier bedtime. Rest and avoid physical exertion.

Follow your instincts: Eating small quantities of food (grazing) more frequently throughout the day may help. Avoid one big heavy meal. Some food preparations and strong food smells can worsen your feeling- stay away from them.

Up your fluids: It is important to increase your intake of fluids, and this can include sports drinks or soft drinks which may provide some extra calories and salts to replace what is being lost.

Choose the right multivitamins: You may find that you are not able to tolerate your usual pregnancy multivitamins. It is important to at least take a Folic acid supplement as this will help to reduce the risk of your baby developing a neural tube defect (spina bifida). Vitamin B1, B6 (pyridoxine) and B12 supplements are also recommended as they can help reduce nausea. Avoid multivitamins with Iron as they can worsen NVP.

Things to try: Ginger brewed into a tea, or purchased as a supplement from your chemist or health food store can be tried. When taken four times daily, it can help relieve some of the nausea.

HG or NVP not manageable at home

Discuss with your doctor: If you are vomiting you may need to take prescription medications. prescribed by your GP or Obstetrician. These medications have been used safely in pregnancy for many years.

Some women need to be seen at the hospital facility to be given IV fluids. You may need to be admitted (stay in) hospital if you do not respond to medication, you are losing weight or can’t keep enough fluid down and become dehydrated.

Does HG and nausea and NVP affect your baby?

Your baby gets its food from your body even though you may not be eating much when feeling nauseous or vomiting.

If you become dehydrated it could affect your baby so it’s important you receive treatment and fluids. Some babies of women with HG may have a low birth weight when born. However, not all babies will have this problem.

Dr Mansoor is happy to discuss things further and support you and your family with any pregnancy issues that you encounter.


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