Medication for Nausea During Pregnancy

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Most women expect to experience nausea during pregnancy. You may have joked about it beforehand--until you experienced it and realized how much it was going to disrupt your life. You might feel there's nothing you can do about your nausea without harming your baby. That's not true. Several medications are safe for treating pregnancy-related nausea.

Types

Fifty to 90 percent of women will have some nausea or vomiting during pregnancy. Most experience what's known as morning sickness. This is comparatively mild nausea and vomiting, though it may not seem that way to the woman suffering from it. Contrary to its name, morning sickness can hit at any time of day or last all day. Typically, women experience morning sickness between the fifth and 18th weeks of pregnancy, though it lasts longer for some. Women with morning sickness may be at less risk for miscarriage.

A few women will experience a more severe condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. These women can't keep any food or drink down, vomit every day and lose 5 percent of their pre-pregnancy weight. These women are at risk for serious dehydration and need a doctor's care.

Over-the-Counter Medications

If home remedies, such as eating small meals more frequently, don't provide enough relief for your nausea, you may want to consider an over-the-counter medication. Emetrol is a nonprescription medication for nausea that's safe for use during pregnancy. You may also want to try an antacid, such as Zantac or Pepcid, if you suspect reflux is causing your nausea.

A medication called Bendectin used to be available as a prescription for pregnancy-related nausea but was withdrawn in 1983 due to fears about its safety. The FDA has now declared the former components of Bendectin safe for use during pregnancy, and you can buy these components without a prescription. Vitamin B6 can be combined with Doxylamine, found in some sleep aids, such as Unisom and Good Sense Sleep Aid. Even though you can buy this without a prescription, you should always discuss it with your doctor first.

Prescription Medications

There are some prescription nausea medications that are safe for use during pregnancy. Phenergan, the brand name for promethazine, is an antihistamine that's commonly prescribed for pregnancy-related nausea. Other medications your doctor might prescribe are Compazine, Tigan or Reglan. Compazine and Phenergan should never be taken together.

Zofran is a powerful anti-nausea drug that was first developed for use with chemotherapy patients. It's been declared safe for use during pregnancy and usually has good results. It's very expensive, though, and isn't covered by most insurance plans.

Misconceptions

Many pregnant women mistakenly believe any medication taken during pregnancy will harm their unborn baby. It is true that's it's best not to expose your developing baby to drugs if they can be avoided. But doctors have spent so much time warning women of the possible harm of medication during pregnancy, to avoid frivolous use, that women have an exaggerated sense that all medications are bad. Some drugs have been tested and approved for use during pregnancy, and you can take them without fear.

Warning

If you're experiencing severe nausea and vomiting, especially if it keeps you from eating, don't just suffer through. Your developing baby needs nutrients. The potential danger caused by weight loss or dehydration is more serious than taking an approved medication.

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