Here's When Your Morning Sickness Should Concern You

by Steph Montgomery

There's no doubt about it: morning sickness sucks. Most moms-to-be experience at least some nausea or vomiting during their pregnancy, which is inappropriately nicknamed morning sickness. Trust me when I say it's not limited to just the mornings. Even though it's common, according to professionals there's a point when enough is enough. In fact, there isn't really a limit to how many times you should vomit when you're pregnant before you seek medical care, and there are treatments available to help that might make a huge difference when it comes to your nausea, vomiting, and overall comfort.

Romper spoke with certified nurse midwife Anette Ferrell, MSN, ARNP, CNM via phone about how much vomiting during pregnancy is "too much," and when you should call your obstetrics provider. According to Ferrell, if you are pregnant and are unable to keep food down, you should call your doctor regardless of how many times you vomit. The Mayo Clinic's website agrees, stating that if your vomiting is making you dehydrated you need to get help, because it can be harmful for you and your baby. According to Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation, if you can't stop vomiting you may actually have Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), a severe health condition that can have irreversible impacts. So, if your vomiting won't let up, it's important that you call your health care practitioner and get some help as soon as possible. After all, that's what they're there for, right?

The American Pregnancy Association (APA) states that more than 50 percent of women will experience morning sickness, or nausea or vomiting, during pregnancy. According to the APA website, it generally begins around the sixth week of pregnancy and as your body reacts to the increased levels of hormones, and goes away as you head into your second trimester. Fortunately for most women, while annoying, morning sickness will not hurt you or your pregnancy, and some doctors even think it's a good sign; a sign that your pregnancy is progressing and your hormone levels are increasing as they should. But the same site notes that if you can't keep food down, or still feel sick after your first trimester is over, it's time to call your doctor.

According to Ferrell, there are safe and effective treatments available to help women cope with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. As she told Romper, "Pregnant women do not need to suffer. Prescription Diclegis or its components — unisom and vitamin B6, which are available over-the-counter — can help significantly with nausea. If the patient is experiencing vomiting with every meal, unable to keep fluids down, or not making tears or urine, that’s when I recommend going to the ER for fluids and medication." She adds, "Zofran is effective for treating vomiting in pregnancy, and the risks are low. Vitamin and iron levels should also be checked to rule out other causes of vomiting."

When asked if there is a minimum or maximum number of times a pregnant woman should vomit before they get help, Ferrell says, "not really." She adds, "You should go in ASAP if you have any symptoms of dehydration. Rehydration and Zofran are life." The Mayo Clinic agrees. According to their website, if your vomiting is making you dehydrated — you don't have to pee as much, feel faint, or your heart races — you need to get help right away, because it can be harmful for you and your baby.

According to Healthline, like Ferrell, many health care providers recommend taking the over-the-counter sleep aid, Unisom, along with vitamin B-6, to help with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, which has been shown in research studies to lessen symptoms. Of course, on the downside it might also make you tired, as it is designed to help you sleep. As always, you should consult your doctor or midwife before taking over-the-counter medications or supplements when pregnant.

The Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation cautions moms-to-be not to ignore vomiting during pregnancy. If you can't stop vomiting, you may have Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) — "a severe form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. It is generally described as unrelenting, excessive pregnancy-related nausea and/or vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids." If left untreated, HG can cause pregnancy complications and irreversible side effects.

The bottom line is that while morning sickness is common, and generally not a big deal, if you can't stop vomiting you should get help right away. Never hesitate to call your doctor or midwife for help or information. That's what they are there for, and you shouldn't have to suffer alone.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.