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What to do when experiencing vomiting during pregnancy

Updated: 2021-11-30


Vomiting during early pregnancy is usually not taken seriously because people often think it is normal for pregnant women. In fact, severe vomiting during pregnancy may affect the development of the fetus and the health of the pregnant woman, so it should indeed be taken seriously.

About 50-80 percent of pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (NVP), commonly known as "early pregnancy reaction". Women with NVP may experience a variety of symptoms, including loss of appetite, dizziness, fatigue, feeling sick when smelling oil, nausea, and morning vomiting.

Generally speaking, as long as the mild or moderate symptoms last less than four weeks, they will have little impact on pregnant women and fetuses. But if hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) occurs, women may experience such symptoms as weight loss, ketoacidosis, and electrolyte disorders, complicated with hyperthyroidism. In such cases, pregnant women may need to be hospitalized. Therefore, early diagnosis and proper handling are of utmost importance.

Gestational vomiting usually starts at 4-6 weeks of gestation, peaks at 8-10 weeks and subsides at 16-20 weeks. Only 15-20 percent of pregnant women will continue vomiting until the last trimester, and 5 percent will continue to delivery. The recurrence rate of nausea and vomiting during second pregnancies is 15-81 percent.

Self-assessment of vomiting severity

From the first trimester, check the options that most closely match your experience.

1. How long do you feel nausea and vomiting on average every day?
Never≤1 hour2-3 hours4-6 hours≥6 hours
1 point2 points3 points4 points5 points
2. How many times do you vomit per day on average?
Never1-2 times3-4 times5-6 times≥7 times
1 point2 points3 points4 points5 points
3. How many retches per day on average?
Never1-2 times3-4 times5-6 times≥7 times
1 point2 points3 points4 points5 points

Total points (sum of points for 1, 2, and 3 items): mild NVP≤6 points; moderate NVP 7-12 points; severe NVP≥13 points

Expectant mothers with a score of 7 or more or those who feel uneasy about their health are encouraged to visit the nutrition clinic of the Chongqing Health Center for Women and Children (CQHCWC) for consultation.

How to relieve vomiting during pregnancy

1. When early pregnancy reactions are obvious, a balanced diet is important. Digestible cereals are best, including gruel, soft noodles, steamed bread, bread, etc.

2. Avoid irritating or greasy foods; small and frequent meals are recommended, and do not get too full.

3. Eat light, dry foods or high-protein snacks, salty biscuits, etc. when you wake up in the morning.

4. Try foods with varying properties, such as salty, sweet, cold, hot, crunchy, or soft.

5. Try ginger and related products.

6. Do not smoke (those who smoke must quit), avoid exposure to second-hand smoke, and do not drink.

7. Avoid sensory irritants such as odors, heat, humidity, and flashes that may aggravate symptoms.

8. Get plenty of rest and sleep and maintain a positive attitude.

Flow chart of nutritional support therapy for NVP

1. Make an appointment for registration at the nutrition clinic;

2. Nutrition screening and evaluation:

Pregnancy Unique-Quantification of Emesis (PUQE) score, dietary survey, laboratory examination, etc.;

3. Individualized precision nutrition intervention:

Diet guidance: To strengthen energy and nutrient intake to avoid weight loss;

Micro-ecological therapy: To relieve gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, reflux, and flatulence;

Oral nutritional supplement: To ensure the nutrition needed by the fetus and improve the nutritional state of pregnant women;

4. Nutritional monitoring and follow-up: Regular follow-up nutritional monitoring and follow-up by specialists in the Nutrition Department.

Note: When a patient develops HG, such as weight loss of more than 5 percent, continuous urine routine ketone body positive or ketone body 3+, or other serious conditions (indifferent expression, syncope, loss of consciousness, etc.), please send the patient to the Emergency Department or the Gynecological Endocrinology Department of the CQHCWC and get them hospitalized as soon as possible.

Service hours of the CQHCWC's Nutrition Department

Ranjiaba Branch: 8 am-noon, 2-5:30 pm from Monday to Friday

Qixinggang Branch: 8 am-noon on Tuesday; 8 am-noon, 2-5:30 pm on Thursday