Morning Sickness, Heartburn & Constipation

Nausea & Vomiting

Most pregnant women have some degree of nausea and vomiting between 5 and 18 weeks of pregnancy. This is often worst around 9 weeks. Symptoms can occur until delivery in a small number of women. Interestingly, women with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy experience fewer miscarriages and stillbirths than women without these symptoms. Although the cause of nausea is not clear, hormone levels and slowed emptying of the stomach can contribute.

The following suggestions may help reduce symptoms and reduce dehydration:

  • Avoid an empty stomach – have a packet of dry biscuits by the bed to eat before you get up.
  • Eat small snacks frequently and have small meals that are high in protein or carbohydrates and low in fat.
  • Avoid large meals.
  • Sip cold, clear fluids such as water, mineral water, lemonade or ginger ale
  • Avoid triggers such as greasy, spicy or fatty foods, stuffy rooms or odours (perfume, chemicals, coffee, food, smoke), noise and visual or physical motion (flickering lights, driving).
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • If pregnancy multivitamins or iron make symptoms worse, try taking them at night or stop taking them temporarily.
  • Drink ginger ale or sliced ginger in warm water, or try ginger capsules.
  • Peppermint tea may be helpful, or lemon slices in hot or cold water.
  • Vitamin B6 supplements (pyridoxine) are proven to be helpful for nausea. We recommend taking 25mg three times a day. Green leafy vegetables, bananas, tuna and chicken are natural food sources of Vitamin B6.

If these options do not provide relief there are a range of medications that are safe to use in pregnancy and have been shown to be useful in treating persistent nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Please contact us if you are unable to keep down any food or fluids. Occasionally pregnant women have to be admitted to hospital for rehydration with intravenous fluids.

Heartburn & Constipation

During pregnancy the movements that push swallowed food from your food pipe into your stomach and then along your bowel are slower. Your stomach also takes longer to empty. This slowdown gives nutrients more time to be absorbed into your bloodstream and to reach your baby. Unfortunately it may also lead to heartburn (reflux of food and stomach acid up the food pipe into your throat) and constipation.

To prevent heartburn, try the following:

  • Eat small, frequent meals and avoid fried foods, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits or juices and spicy foods.
  • Drink fluids slowly between meals to avoid overfilling the stomach.
  • Milk and yogurt may help.
  • Antacids such as Mylanta, Gaviscon, Rennies, and Tumms can help.
  • If symptoms are severe you can start taking ranitidine tablets (Zantac). This medication is safe in pregnancy and is available over the counter at any pharmacy, but is often cheaper with a prescription.

To prevent or relieve constipation, include plenty of fibre in your diet (try All-Bran breakfast cereal, kiwi fruit and pears), and drink lots of fluids. Regular physical activity also may help.

The information contained is not meant to replace medical advice.  Should you have any questions or concerns regarding your health, please contact your health care professional.

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