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Morning sickness is a side effect of pregnancy that no woman likes to experience, yet up to 85% of women do at some point. With this being such a common issue in pregnancy, expectant mothers should know some of the new guidelines about the treatment of morning sickness with medication.
There are some natural remedies that you can try to treat your nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, but many women do eventually opt to ask their doctors or midwives for medications for morning sickness during pregnancy to help them feel better.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released some updated guidelines regarding the management of morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum (the very severe form of morning sickness that about 2% of women experience) in September 2015. It’s likely that your obstetric provider has heard of this and may change what he or she is prescribing based on these recommendations.
Various drugs exist to treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, but a newer one on the market is a combination of two drugs: vitamin B6 (also known as pyridoxine) and doxylamine (a common sleep aid). It is marketed under the brand name Diclegis and is available as a delayed release form where 10mg of each ingredient are in each tablet.
This “new” drug has actually resurfaced, as it was on the market in the United States from 1958 until it was taken off the market in 1983. During this time, about 30% of all pregnant women took this medication. Research has shown that during this time period, this medication led to a 70% decrease in nausea and vomiting as well as a decrease in morning sickness-related hospitalizations.
Further research has proven that the combination of vitamin B6 and doxylamine is safe in pregnancy — over 170,000 exposures have been followed — therefore, it’s now available to American women.
ACOG now states that this drug combination should be the first treatment for morning sickness in pregnancy, if other remedies haven’t worked (these include smaller frequent meals, bland meals, etc). Options for taking this medication include getting a prescription from your doctor or midwife or taking vitamin B6 and pyridoxine separately (which you can get over the counter without a prescription, but they are not in the delayed release form that seems to be more effective in studies).
Other medications do exist for treating morning sickness during pregnancy, and many women have tried or will try some combination of them. One popular one is Ondansetron, also known as Zofran. This drug has made headlines recently for concerns over associated birth defects, including cleft palate and heart defects. However, ACOG states that studies are limited and the ones that we do have are conflicting, so more research is needed. With the overall risk likely being very low to the fetus, it is a drug that can be considered after the risks and benefits are reviewed with the patient, but it shouldn’t be the first drug a woman tries to feel better.