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Could Extreme Pregnancy Sickness Harm The Foetus?

Posted Sep 28 2008 5:55pm 1 Comment

Pregnancy sickness or morning sickness often occurs in the first four months of pregnancy but can strike at any time. It usually ceases by week 16 and eating little and often eases the symptoms.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

1 in 1000 women suffer from extreme sickness also known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). This can result in constant vomiting and dehydration, whereby even water is troublesome to keep down. The risks associated with this are:

* Psychological distress
* Chronic depression
* Undue strain on the internal organs

Reasons For Extreme Pregnancy Sickness

Hormones are usually blamed for the sudden change in chemical imbalance causing mood swings, nausea and ultimately vomiting. Why some women suffer more than others is a mystery and can affect her home life, family and other siblings.

Can It Harm The Unborn Baby?

Even those who have the sickness so severe, they are given a dehydration drip, have little or no problems and give birth to a healthy baby. The action of vomiting stretches the stomach and pushes on internal organs but can’t harm the baby as they are encased in the womb and the amniotic fluid. Although excessive vomiting can cause malnutrition and a low birth weight.


Regular morning sickness can be treated with remedies such as nibbling on ginger, drinking herbal teas and sucking ice. HG is more of a problem as it develops into symptoms similar to full blown depression. The first step is going to the doctor to discuss the drugs available before deciding what to take. Most drugs are unlicensed for use in pregnancy and the doctor can discuss those which contain safe ingredients but also consider the options. In the 1960s, a drug called Thalidomide, caused much controversy, where babies were born with missing limbs after their mothers took the anti-sickness drug. Now there are very few drugs available. Some would argue it is better to be a well mother-to-be who is eating and feels good compared to one who is depressed. The main side effect with the drugs is fatigue but for sufferers it is better to be asleep all day rather than vomiting.

Managing The Sickness

  • Eat little and often - try six smaller meals a day rather than three big ones.
  • Avoid refined sugary foods such as donuts and cakes
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, although ginger beer is said to be easy on a sensitive stomach
  • Eat plain non citrus foods such as bananas, rice, bread and potatoes
  • Take plenty of exercise such as walking and Yoga for pregnancy.

Home Remedies

The internet is full of alternative remedies such as fruit flavored ‘preggy pops’ to suck on at intervals throughout the day, squeezing acupressure points on your wrist when nausea strikes and hypnosis.

Regular morning sickness can be treated with alternative remedies and may not last long, also it may not re-occur in future pregnancies or it can come back twice as bad. HG on the other hand has a 75% chance of re-occurring and can affect the mother’s mental state but whether it can harm the unborn baby remains untested.

Comments (1)
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Most women hate morning sickness first trimester. Just imagine going through daily nausea and vomiting. Thankfully, it's also curable using natural morning sickness treatment such as ginger tea.
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