Pregnancy: Dealing with Nausea and “Morning Sickness”

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Pregnancy: Dealing with Nausea and “Morning Sickness”


Guest: Dr. Jill Mauldin – Obstetrics-Gynecology

Host: Dr. Linda Austin – Psychiatry

Dr. Linda Austin: I am Dr. Linda Austin. I am interviewing Dr. Jill Mauldin who is a maternal/fetal specialist in the department of OB/GYN and associate professor here at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Mauldin, when women are pregnant, especially during that first trimester, nausea can be such an incredible problem for many women, what percentage of women struggle with this?

Dr. Jill Mauldin: Although you hear about it a lot, it probably is not as many women as you would think. Maybe 40 to 50 percent of women may just have some nausea but do not actually get sick from it, and then a very small percentage are going to really have a hard time where they are sick frequently with the nausea and vomiting.

Dr. Linda Austin: What causes that?

Dr. Jill Mauldin: Truthfully, I do not think that anybody knows exactly what causes it. We have different ideas. Perhaps pregnancies that have multiple gestations might be more likely to have some nausea and vomiting associated with their pregnancy.

Dr. Linda Austin: Multiple births, twins or triplets?

Dr. Jill Mauldin: Exactly. But, in general, we do not really know and we do not know why some women are more predisposed than others.

Dr. Linda Austin: Does it ever become so severe that you have to go into the hospital?

Dr. Jill Mauldin: On occasion, it has. Of course, that is unusual, or rare. But, on occasion, it has. Some ladies will get very dehydrated. They might lose 10 or 15 pounds, even, over several weeks. Once we realize that and once they present to our office, they are often admitted to the hospital. We really have to get back to bare bones and start getting them rehydrated and nourished.

Dr. Linda Austin: We always call that “morning sickness.” Is it actually more common in the morning?

Dr. Jill Mauldin: Not really. The ladies that have it, I think, often have it all day long, especially the ladies that are affected with it so severely, as we discussed. Many times, it just occurs throughout the day. Sometimes women are affected with it more at night than others. We tend to think that if they ever really have their stomach empty that it seems to be worse, and if they can keep just a small amount of food in their belly, they will probably tolerate the feeling a little bit better.

Dr. Linda Austin: If a woman has a lot of problems with it in her first pregnancy, is she pretty much destined to always have that in subsequent pregnancies, or not necessarily?

Dr. Jill Mauldin: I think it can vary some. Certainly, if they have been really severely affected by it, I think that it is probably more likely to recur.

Dr. Linda Austin: And, it usually goes away after the first trimester, is that right?

Dr. Jill Mauldin: Right. For most people, it does. Again, there is that small percentage of people. You know, I can remember, maybe, one or two patients a year that really are affected throughout the entire pregnancy to some degree. But, most people, it is going to be done by 12 or 16 weeks of pregnancy.

Dr. Linda Austin: Well, that is the good news.

Dr. Jill Mauldin: That is the good news.

Dr. Linda Austin: What are some simple remedies? You mentioned keeping something in your stomach, any other simple things a woman can do?

Dr. Jill Mauldin: If she can try to avoid fried or spicy foods, that is really helpful. Try to eat multiple small meals during the day. Again, that is sort of on that same line of trying to keep, always, a little bit of food in your stomach. Some ladies will do well if they just can always have a lean meat, like eating turkey several times a day, rather than red meat. They are going to tolerate that a little bit better.

Dr. Linda Austin: If that does not do the trick, do you have medications you can prescribe?

Dr. Jill Mauldin: Yes. Some of these can be bought over-the-counter. So, if you realize that you are having trouble with the nausea and the vomiting, you can try combining a vitamin B6 and a Unisom pill. These can be purchased over-the-counter. They are not going to be detrimental to your pregnancy. The side effect is that it will make you a little bit sleepy, but it will also curb, for many people, that nausea.

Dr. Linda Austin: So, that is simple. How about bigger guns than that? If that does not do the trick, do you have more significant medications?

Dr. Jill Mauldin: There are more significant things that we can give a prescription for, obviously. Penergan, compazine, zofran are some common anti-nausea medications that we will use.

Dr. Linda Austin: So, there is hope?

Dr. Jill Mauldin: There is hope. We can get you through those few months.

Dr. Linda Austin: Dr. Mauldin, thank you so much.

Dr. Jill Mauldin: Thank you.

If you have any questions about the services or programs offered at the Medical University of South Carolina or if you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, please call MUSC Health Connection: (843) 792-1414.

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