Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy... Why?

Congratulations to my friend Nadine who is expecting her first baby- she's so excited and I'm very happy for her!

According to Dr. Atul Gawande, in his book ‘Complications: A surgeon’s notes on an imperfect science’, 60-85% of pregnant women experience pregnancy sickness. 5 out of every 1000 women will experience such severe nausea and vomiting to actually lose weight.

You’d think that throwing up while pregnant is evolutionary counterproductive since a growing embryo needs nourishment but Gawande presents the work of evolutionary biologist Margie Profet who claims it’s actually a good thing. She points out that many foods have natural toxins that are safe for healthy humans since we've developed elaborate detoxifying systems. However, embryos don’t have these systems in place. According to Profet, pregnancy sickness is a way to minimize the embryo’s exposure to toxins since women sufferers tend to prefer bland foods that don’t easily spoil and they stay away from foods high in natural toxins, like certain bitter foods and animal products that aren’t fresh.

The embryo is most sensitive to toxins in the early stages of development when it’s developing its organs, explaining why pregnancy sickness occurs mostly during the first trimester. At this stage, the embryo is small and its caloric needs are easily met by the mom’s fat stores.

Although obviously very uncomfortable for the mother, the good news is that women with moderate to severe pregnancy sickness have lower rates of miscarriages than women with mild nausea or none at all.

20% of women will experience nausea and vomiting after the first trimester, some may even suffer for the whole length of their pregnancy. In these severe cases, the risk of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance is very real and these women will require IV fluids and careful monitoring.

Some studies have shown that ginger might be an effective natural treatment for nausea and vomiting. Other possibly helpful tips include eating smaller meals more frequently, avoiding drinking fluids with meals, avoiding spicy foods and fried foods, cooking in the microwave to produce less odours, eating plain crackers or dry cereal before getting out of bed in the morning. Medication is sometimes prescribed as well.
It's often recommended that you take your prenatal supplement later in the day if you suffer from morning sickness.

1 comment:

Naznin said...

Very interesting, sybil.I work in obstetrics and never really knew the reason for morning sickness in pregnancy.You learn something new everyday.
Thank you.