I think if it wasn’t for morning sickness, I would have more than 5 children right now* (update at bottom of article)! Nah, not really. But I have definitely had my share of experience with pregnancy nausea. With my fourth and fifth pregnancies, I was so sick that I lost 8 pounds during the first trimester each time, and that was not weight I could really afford to lose! After my fifth pregnancy, I learned of some very important information about severe morning sickness that is missed all too often.
But before I share that information, I want to cover the problems with the Western medical field’s “treatment” of morning sickness. In my research, I have not found a single prescription or over-the-counter drug that does not carry risks, ESPECIALLY to the unborn.
The prescription drugs commonly given for pregnancy nausea have some things that unsuspecting pregnant women do not know about them, but they should!
For instance, Zofran (ondansetron) and other drugs prescribed for nausea are not approved by the (liberal) FDA for use during pregnancy. These drugs are approved for use in the treatment of nausea for patients undergoing chemotherapy. But doctors are still allowed to prescribe them to their prenatal patients. The long-term effects on the baby in utero have not been studied, so there is no basis for doctors telling their patients that these drugs are safe.
The use of Zofran (ondansetron) has recently come under question in patients undergoing chemotherapy because of possible heart complications it is suspected to cause:
“Zofran, a medication used to prevent nausea from chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery, may cause potentially fatal abnormal heart rhythms.”
(More info here: http://www.newsinferno.com/pharmaceuticals/fda-investigating-possible-zofran-heart-rhythm-problems/33322)
Natural health experts believe that because the baby’s heart is being formed during the first months of pregnancy, a drug that is known to alter heart rhythms could be detrimental to the proper development of baby’s heart.
In fact, many moms report giving birth to babies with heart defects after using Zofran during pregnancy. (http://www.drugs.com/forum/drug-information/zofran-heart-defect-46169.html)
Corticosteroid drugs, such as Prednisone, hydrocortisone (cortisol), Nasonex, Flonase, etc., are proven to cause birth defects, including cleft malformation. A 3.4-fold increased risk of oral cleft was found in infants exposed to corticosteroids in first trimester. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11091360)
Remember–as noted above, this drug is NOT approved by the FDA for use in pregnancy!
Other Prescription Drugs Used In Pregnancy
Other drugs cited as safe during pregnancy are also known teratogens (substances known to cause birth defects). For example, one particular study finds a significant increase in birth malformations with prenatal use of medications, , including antidepressants, anticonvulsants, amphetamines, Compazine for morning sickness, etc.
Now that we’ve established the dangers of prescription medications for pregnancy nausea, let’s get into the missing factor that I referred to earlier.
A study that is often overlooked found the h. pylori bacteria to be present in 89 percent of women with severe morning sickness, usually officially diagnosed as hyperemesis gravidarum!
“H. pylori infection is one of the most common human infections in the world. Women who wish to become pregnant may want to be tested for the infection and treated, if necessary, to attempt to avoid the symptoms of severe morning sickness, which for some women can last throughout the pregnancy.”
Why does this bacteria infection only manifest itself during the beginning stages of pregnancy?
“The researchers hypothesize that in the early phase of pregnancy, changes in a woman’s body fluid concentration affect the acidity (pH) of the stomach, which may in turn activate latent H. pylori residing in the stomach.”
Of course, the modern medical field treats h. pylori with antibiotics, but since antibiotics destroy gut health that is essential to pass a healthy immune system onto a baby during birth, we are particularly interested in finding a safer alternative.
So what is the alternative? From Dr. Mercola:
Using drugs to eradicate H. pylori will work occasionally; but it is no where near as effective as treating the cause. The reason why people get infected with this organism is based on their internal terrain: the environment that they create with the food they eat, the tools for stress that they use, their sleep patterns, their exercise regime (or lack of), and their relationship with their Creator.
It is relatively simple to eradicate H. pylori once you understand its cause. Most people respond to simple nutritional interventions. If they don’t, then the other issues mentioned above need to be investigated. The first step is to drink 12 glasses of pure filtered, not distilled, water per day. This also means stopping soda, juice, milk, tea and coffee. If you ingest a significant amount of caffeine, you will have to wean off slowly to avoid caffeine withdrawal headaches. This simple measure is usually enough to treat the H. pylori and the secondary ulcer. Good bacteria (acidophilus and bifidus) cultures also help to create an environment that does not support their growth. For the women discussed in this article, high doses of pyridoxial 5 phosphate (activated vitamin B6) — about 100 mg two to three times a day, along with as much magnesium citrate as they can tolerate without resulting in loose stools, will usually help quite dramatically. The vitamin B6 can even be given intravenously if the oral form is not working.
In case you missed that, the first steps you can take to alleviate morning sickness are:
1. Drink lots of pure, filtered water and eliminate caffeine (gradually to reduce headaches), soda, juice, etc.
2. Take probiotics–
For more information on probiotics and which ones are the best, check out my other article Probiotics 101.
3. Take B6 as recommended above. (Note: Some people have heard that B-vitamins should not be taken in isolated forms. The practice of orthomolecular medicine (mega-dose vitamin therapy), however, has used B-vitamins in isolated in high dosages with success for years, so while B vitamins do work best in synergy, B6 can be taken alone. Otherwise, finding a B-complex with high amounts of B6 and other B vitamins is good too.)
For additional remedies and ideas, go to: http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2010/10/natural-morning-sickness-remedies.html
*Update–I got pregnant with #6 in November 2012 and am again dealing with morning sickness. Fortunately, it is not hyperemesis gravidarum, so I am thankful for that! I had taken probiotics, eliminated sugar, etc. for years before getting pregnant this time around, so that my have helped. However, I will admit that I am still dealing with a fair case of morning sickness this time around. I am able to keep almost everything I eat down (As of 10 weeks along, I have only thrown up an entire meal once) and am able to eat a variety of things. I did not implement a B6 or magnesium protocol as detailed above before getting pregnant, so that maybe would have helped. I did start a B-complex with high amounts of all the B vitamins, including B6, which seems to be helping. I have a friend pregnant with me who implemented a magnesium protocol using a homemade magnesium oil to rub on the body which she said helped too.
Just wanted to add this update to show that while H.pylori may be the underlying factor for HG, there are plenty of other reasons for mild/moderate cases of morning sickness. It’s tough, but that sweet, squishy, precious newborn is so worth it!
May God give you a wonderful, healthy pregnancy!