Morning sickness | Guide to pregnancy

Morning sickness

A common problem that almost every pregnant woman (about 80%) knows is nausea. It can occur in the morning, at noon, in the evening or at night, depending on the meals, or it can even be present throughout the day. This varies from woman to woman.

Also the fact whether it is just nausea or even nausea with vomiting is different for every pregnant woman. Some describe a slight discomfort in the stomach, while others are very sensitive to the smell of certain foods and feel nauseous as a result. Nausea is particularly common during early pregnancy, probably due to the increasing level of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin, pregnancy hormone), which is responsible for placental formation and maintenance.

Furthermore, doctors also see a connection between the state of mind or psyche and the intensity of the nausea. If you experience increased stress or sleep too little, this can have a negative effect on nausea. The most common term is “morning sickness”, but few women feel their nausea only in the morning.

Some also report nocturnal nausea attacks, which make it difficult to fall asleep and sleep through the night and thus represent a heavy burden, which in turn can lead to increased nausea attacks during the day. Some women also suffer from so-called “postprandial” nausea. This refers to the occurrence of nausea immediately after eating, regardless of the food consumed.

Some women find it pleasant to go to sleep immediately after a meal. However, this is an activity that is usually not feasible for women who are already mothers. In addition, it can sometimes be helpful to treat the nausea with medication (e.g. Vomex tablets).

There is also a remedy on a homeopathic basis: Nux Vomica pellets. But before you try any of the drugs to treat nausea after meals, you should always ask your gynaecologist or midwife for advice. All in all, morning sickness is an unpleasant, but by no means dangerous, symptom that is experienced by most pregnant women.

Anemia during pregnancy

During pregnancy, the mother’s blood volume increases by half, but the number of red blood cells increases by only a fifth. This causes a natural decrease of the red blood pigment haemoglobin (in the sense of a dilution) by up to 10 g/dl (pregnancy hydraemia). From this, a stronger pathological drop in the haemoglobin value (anaemia) must be delimited and diagnosed.

The threshold value above which anaemia is considered to be anaemia is lower than usual (approx. <10-11 g/dl) due to the natural dilution of blood. In most cases, iron deficiency is the cause during pregnancy, but other forms of anaemia, for example congenital forms or those caused by inflammation, can also occur and must be clarified.

Iron deficiency in pregnancy affects about 10-15% of women in industrialised countries, in third world countries this percentage can rise to 75%. As a result of pregnancy, the iron requirement increases so much that it can hardly be covered by food intake. In the gastrointestinal tract, only about 1/8 of the iron contained in food is absorbed into the body.

With a normal diet this is altogether too little to cover the consumption. If the body’s own iron stores (indicated by the ferritin value) are not sufficient to compensate for the lack of iron, an iron deficiency occurs, which has a negative effect on the production of red blood cells. The result is anaemia.

Anemia during pregnancy carries risks for the mother and the child, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy. Mild anaemia has little effect, but medium to severe anaemia increases the incidence of disease and mortality in mother and child. In addition, the growth and development of the placenta can be affected and the risk of premature birth increases.

Maternal well-being can also be affected by nausea, vomiting, dizziness and fatigue. Restricted milk production, depression or the exhaustion syndrome occur in cases of anaemia after pregnancy. Many women suffer from a slight iron deficiency even before their pregnancy.

At normal haemoglobin levels, this is manifested by depleted iron stores (low ferritin levels). According to a study, the occurrence of anaemia is reduced by taking iron preparations in tablet form as a preventive measure during pregnancy, before the haemoglobin values are noticeable. In addition to tablets, there are also products with an elevated iron content (e.g. cornflakes).

Iron tablets are usually also sufficient for the treatment of mild or moderate anaemia. It is recommended that iron tablets be taken on an empty stomach and that vitamin C be added to improve the absorption of iron into the body. If this is not tolerated, if the laboratory values do not improve or if severe anaemia is detected, iron can be supplied via the veins from the 2nd trimester of pregnancy onwards. If, in addition to the anemia, the pregnant woman has too little blood volume, red blood cells must be given in the form of a blood transfusion. You can find information on other risks in pregnancy on our page Risk pregnancy.