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Dr. Laura Pipher

Dr. Laura Pipher

Nausea & Vomiting of Pregnancy

Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), also known as “morning sickness” affects up to 85% of pregnant women and is the most common medical condition experienced in pregnancy (1). Those who have suffered from morning sickness know all too well that it can occur at any time of the day, and is not exclusive to the mornings (1).

In fact, one study found that 80% of women experienced nausea throughout their entire day, with only about 2% experiencing sickness only in the morning (1).

Morning sickness symptoms normally appear between 4 & 9 weeks of pregnancy and are heightened up to week 12, but unfortunately for 15% of women, symptoms continue until 20 weeks, with 10% of women suffering their entire pregnancy (1).

A small percentage of women suffer from a serious condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) which can affect up to 2% of pregnant women and often requires hospitalization due to dehydration, nutrient deficiencies, and electrolyte imbalances that occur as a result of persistent vomiting (1).

The reasons as to why some women suffer from nausea and vomiting during pregnancy and others do not are widely unknown, however it is theorized that several factors likely play a role (1).

    • The most common theory is that morning sickness occurs due to hormonal changes during the first trimester of pregnancy including changes with hCG, estrogen and progesterone (1). It has been found that women pregnant with multiples often have worse morning sickness symptoms as well as higher hCG levels.
    • Other hormonal imbalances including thyroid disorders have been associated with morning sickness.
    • Gastric motility issues in pregnancy may be due to a combination of elevated progesterone and estrogen levels (2).
    • Research has shown that women with pre-existing or untreated digestive concerns including constipation, reflux, inflammatory bowel disease (crohns or colitis), celiac disease or IBS are susceptible to more intense morning sickness symptoms (1). Some studies have even identified a connection between morning sickness and h pylori infections in pregnant women.
    • Other proposed causes for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy include B vitamin deficiencies, genetic factors as well as an evolutionary adaptation (1).

Finding adequate treatments for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is important, as in its most severe form, morning sickness and HG can lead to physical and mental health consequences including dehydration, nutrient deficiencies, and electrolyte imbalances that occur as a result of persistent vomiting (1). In fact, in a study of 3,201 pregnant women experiencing NVP, 108 terminated their pregnancy because of NVP, and an additional 413 women considered termination.

Some naturopathic treatments can include:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Ginger
  • Acupressure
    • has been shown to have an inhibitory effect on the secretion of gastric acids (3)
  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
    • One study showed a significant reduction in nausea in vomiting in pregnancy with lemon aromatherapy (3)






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