Medical Advice - For the Pregnant Woman - Pregnancy Symptoms

1. Morning sickness

Morning sickness affects almost three fourths of pregnant women during the first trimester.

Almost half of all pregnant women suffer from nausea and vomiting, one fourth has only nausea and one fourth does not have any of these symptoms. Nausea usually starts around the 6th week of pregnancy, but may start earlier and get worse during the next month.

Almost half of women that experience nausea during pregnancy are free of the symptoms after the 14th week. For the rest, it takes another month for the symptoms to ease up though they may return later as the pregnancy progresses. Unfortunately, for a small percentage of women the symptoms persist continually until delivery. For some pregnant women the symptoms are worse in the morning and ease up over the course of the day, but can reappear at any time during the day while for some they make last all day long. The intensity of symptoms can vary from woman to woman to a large extent.
Of course, just because morning sickness is a common symptom in pregnancy and likely to last a few months, does not mean it does not require proper attention. Even a mild case of nausea can wear you down and leave you exhausted. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms and the possibilities of relief.

Which women are more likely to have nausea symptoms

• Women pregnant with twins. This may be due to higher levels of b-hCG (beta chorionic gonadotropin), estrogen or other hormones in your system.
• Pregnant women who had nausea and vomiting during a previous pregnancy.
• Pregnant women who have a history of nausea or vomiting as a side effect of taking birth control pills.
• Pregnant women who have a genetic predisposition to nausea during pregnancy.
• Women who have a history of migraine headaches.
• Pregnant women carrying a girls. According to studies, women with severe nausea and vomiting symptoms in the first trimester are 50% more likely to be carrying a girl.

How can nausea affect my baby?

Mild to moderate nausea and occasional vomiting in the morning will not threaten your baby’s health. If you don’t gain weight in the first trimester, it is usually not a problem as long as you drink enough liquids and eat normally. In most cases, your appetite will soon return and you will start gaining weight.
If nausea keeps you from eating a balanced diet, make sure you are getting the nutrients needed by taking a Prenatal vitamin. In general, avoid taking iron during the first trimester as it irritates the gastric fluids and makes your nausea worse.

What can I do to ease the symptoms?

If you have mild symptoms of nausea and vomiting, there are some measures that can provide relief. Many of the suggestions below although not supported by evidence, are commonly recommended by obstetricians and midwives.  

• Eat small, frequent meals and nutritious snacks throughout the day so your stomach is never empty. Some studies show that high protein foods may relieve some of the symptoms.
• Keep snacks (such as crackers) by your bed. Eating a cracker when you first wake up or if you wake up nauseated during the night, may help you feel better.
• When you wake up, try sitting on the bed for a few minutes instead of jumping right up; this may also prove helpful.
• Try to avoid the foods and smells that trigger your nausea.  
• Eat food cold or at room temperature because food tends to have a stronger aroma when hot.
• Avoid fatty, spicy and fried foods, which can irritate you digestive system.
• Try drinking fluids mostly between meals. Avoid drinking large quantities of water all at once because you will feel full and this will make you less hungry for food. A good strategy is to sip small quantities of fluids throughout the day.
• Nausea can become worse if you are tired. Try to relax doing pleasant things; watching a film or a pleasant gathering with friends may help you relieve the stress and discomfort.
Try taking prenatal vitamins with food or just before going to bed.

If the symptoms persist, talk with your doctor who can suggest medication.

2. Low abdominal pain or discomfort

Often pregnant women have abdominal discomfort complaints.
Most describe the discomfort as stinging, pinching or tingling. This is normal and is due to the thickening of the uterus walls.
More rarely, and especially if the pain is to the side of the abdominal area, the problem is bowl contractions. In this case, improvement of dietary habits and selection of a Mediterranean diet will provide spectacular relief of the symptoms.

3. Emotional disorders

Mood swings are common during pregnancy and due to increased hormonal levels. Don’t forget that during pregnancy a woman’s body is flooded with hormones the levels of which were much lower or nonexistent before pregnancy.

Rea Maternity Hospital
383, Siggrou Ave. & 17, Pentelis 17564 Palaio Faliro, Athens, Greece
Tel: +30 210 9495000, fax: +30 210 9495999, email: