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How To Cope With Morning Sickness

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Morning sickness is one of the most common and unpleasant symptoms of pregnancy. There are ways to cope with morning sickness, though. Here's Dr. Keith Eddleman, author of Pregnancy for Dummies, with suggestions.

STACEY: I’m Stacey Tisdale for howdini. It’s a classic problem, and for women the first sign that they’re pregnant. Yes we’re talking about morning sickness. Its not usually serious but it can be. Here to help you determine if it is and what you can do about it, Dr. Keith Eddleman. He’s the Director of Obstetrics at Mount Sinai hospital in New York, and the author of two books including Pregnancy for Dummies. Dr. Eddleman thank you so much for joining us.

KEITH: Thanks for having me.

STACEY: First, what is morning sickness, and what causes it?

KEITH: Well it’s actually a misnomer, its not just morning sickness, its really any time of day sickness. And it’s a nauseating vomiting that typically incurs pregnancy; it tends to occur early in the pregnancy, in the first trimester. And it’s associated with pregnancy itself; no one knows exactly what causes it. Its probably related to a placental factor, the afterbirth, something the afterbirth produces. Because we know the more placentas you have, like when you have twins or triplets, the greater the likelihood and the greater the severity of having nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy.

STACEY: The thing that’s so scary about it is some of the, a lot of times people are unable to eat or keep anything down, your afraid, what’s this doing to the fetus? When does it become a problem?

KEITH: Well, some women have nausea and vomiting just as an intermittent, it comes and goes. Some people have nausea that’s severe and unremitting. And I say if go for two or three days without being able to take down any solids or any liquid then that’s clearly a time to notify your doctor. It’s outside what the typical patient experiences nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy.

STACEY: So two to three days and you’ve raised concern with your doctor. On just an ordinary basis what can someone do to alleviate some of the symptoms?

KEIH: That’s a good question, I mean what we typically tell patients is to try and have frequent meals, but eat a smaller amount. I tell people to divide what they would normally eat into, you know, eight to ten small portions. You just constantly have something by your desk or your bedside, and just eat a bite at a time or two bites at a time. The other thing you can do is eat bland foods, eat foods, not the time to eat spicy foods. Because that’s an irritant to the stomach itself. One of the other hints I tell people it makes a big difference if you can’t keep anything down, try a gumball or some kind of sugar candy to keep in your mouth. Even though you don’t have to swallow a lot, just the sugar and the glucose in the candy can make you feel better. And it can help you to tolerate solid food later down the road.

STACEY: In addition to those natural remedies that you were discussing are the other things out there that people can take or do to get rid of these symptoms?

KEITH: There are some things that work better for some patients then others. One of the things people try over the counter is a combination of vitamin B6 and the sleep medication Unisom. The two of those together have been shown to reduce the symptoms in a lot of women. Some women find relief drinking what is known as green tea, ginger tea, they find, there some studies to show that that helps. But again, nothing works for everybody, and some thing work better for some patients then others.

STACEY: A lot of women are trying to balance these awful feelings with work. You mention Unisom, someone, you know you can’t take that if you go to work and be awake and try and get through your job. What are some of best things for people who have to function, and work throughout the day?

KEITH: Well I think some people should try those things because they don’t make everybody sleepy in those situations, but if your really having trouble maintaining your activities of daily living. Like going to work, or again driving, keeping yourself groomed well. Then you might be somebody who needs a prescription medication. There are prescription medications that we use for patients that have significant nausea and vomiting, they’re safe for pregnancy.

STACEY: So your doctor can give you some relief. And finally what, how long can women expect this to last?

KEITH: It typically goes away after the first trimester, but there are occasional patients that have nausea into the second trimester. And then there are rare patients who have nausea throughout the whole pregnancy. But for most patients, fortunately, it goes away after the first trimester.

STACEY: So you’re not going to suffer, most of us, for longer then three months.

KEITH: Correct.

STACEY: Dr. Eddleman thank you so much for joining us and thanks for joining howdini.

KEITH: Thanks for having me.

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