Extreme Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Nausea and vomiting (often called morning sickness) are common in pregnancy. They are caused by pregnancy hormones and happen most often in the first 3 months. Some women get very sick and are not able to keep down food and fluids. This extreme morning sickness is called hyperemesis gravidarum. It can lead to a dangerous loss of fluids in the body. It also can keep you from gaining weight and getting proper nutrition during your pregnancy.

Your body fluids are put back in balance with water and minerals called electrolytes. Medicine may help if you have severe nausea and vomiting.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Choose water and other caffeine-free clear liquids until you feel better. Try sipping on sports drinks that have salt and sugar in them.
  • Eat a small snack, such as crackers, before you get out of bed. Wait a few minutes, then get out of bed slowly.
  • Keep food in your stomach, but not too much at once. An empty stomach can make nausea worse. Eat several small meals every day instead of three large meals.
  • Eat more protein and less fat.
  • Get plenty of vitamin B6 by eating whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. You can take vitamin B6 tablets if your doctor says it is okay.
  • Try to avoid smells and foods that make you feel sick to your stomach.
  • Get lots of rest.
  • You may want to try acupressure bands. They put pressure on an acupressure point in the wrist. Some women feel better using the bands.
  • Ginger may also help you feel better. You can use it in tea, take it as a pill, or use a ginger syrup that you can buy at a health food store.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot drink fluids.
  • You have symptoms of dehydration, such as:
    • Dry eyes and a dry mouth.
    • Passing only a little urine.
    • Feeling thirstier than usual.
  • You are not able to keep down your medicines.
  • You have pain in your belly or pelvis.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.