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Pregnant and nauseated
Created on 5/26/2009

A, who is pregnant, writes in to request help with nausea.

She is approximately 9 weeks pregnant and has been experiencing waves of nausea with occasional vomiting for the past 10 days. She met with her doctor who offered assurance that her symptoms are related to the pregnancy and not illness, and then provided her with a prescription aid. However, A doesn't want to use the medication unless absolutely necessary, preferring to maintain as "natural" a pregnancy as possible. She is drinking plenty of fluids and is keeping them down but wonders what else she can do.

First of all, A, congratulations on your pregnancy! I trust all will go well from here on out and that you will welcome a healthy baby into your family.

Secondly, it may help to know that you are far from alone. Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy affects most women early in the course of pregnancy, is usually mild and goes away on its own after a few weeks. Still, it can have a major impact on quality of life while present.

A more severe form, called hyperemesis gravidarum, can be dangerous because the mother can become dehydrated from frequent vomiting and inability to keep fluids down, leading to dehydration. This circumstance requires urgent medical treatment, including intravenous fluids, to ensure the health of both mother and fetus. The rest of this posting addresses only the mild form of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP).

The good news is that many effective options exist to help relieve this uncomfortable situation. Doctors do have prescription medication available as an option, but milder forms of treatment may be very effective, too. 

One of the easiest interventions has to do with the diet - most experts recommend an eating plan of frequent small meals throughout the course of the day. In addition, there is strong evidence that clinical hypnosis / self-hypnosis (where you are always in control but simply focus your mind on relieving the discomfort, perhaps imagining yourself "turning down the volume" on nausea) can relieve NVP.

Other options? Consider ginger - no, not ginger ale (there's typically not enough ginger in the soda to help, and there is plenty of sugar!) but perhaps candied ginger or even ginger as a supplement (the typical dose used in studies is 250 mg taken 4 times a day for 4 days, but the best dose and duration of use has yet to be determined).

Need more? Some studies suggest that vitamin B6 in a dose of 10-25 mg every 8 hours can help relieve NVP (speak with your doctor about how long to use it). And research has shown very promising results with acupuncture and acupressure (a practitioner can teach you how to apply acupressure yourself, or you can even try wearing Sea Bands).

So, A, there really are some good otpions available to you, but I strongly recommend you discuss them with your doctor first. I hope you feel better soon!

Good luck, and be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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