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Women need more support through morning sickness, says RCOG guidance

24 June 2016

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The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has recommended that healthcare professionals better support pregnant women suffering with morning sickness.

New RCOG guidelines have suggested healthcare professionals assess the mental health of women dealing with the effects of morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum.

The national guidance, The Management of Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy and Hyperemesis Gravidarum, is the first of its kind despite morning sickness effecting up to 80% of pregnant women.

Hyperemesis gravidarum, meanwhile, is a severe but rare form of morning sickness that affects between 1-3% of pregnant women.

The guidance addresses the effect of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy on quality of life, stating that clinicians should consider a woman’s mental health and refer them to a psychologist if needed.

Women with hyperemesis gravidarum have been found to be three to six times more likely to have low quality of life compared to women with the more common morning sickness.

Meanwhile, studies have also shown a link between depression and poor psychological health in women with morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum.

Dr Manjeet Shehmar, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and lead author of the guideline, said: “Women suffering from nausea and vomiting and hyperemesis gravidarum can face a challenging time in early pregnancy.

“The more severe the condition, the more it can affect their day-to-day quality of life and mental health.

“Women with persistent nausea can often feel that there is a lack of understanding of their condition, they may be unable to eat healthily, have to take time off work and feel a sense of grief for loss for what they perceive to be a normal pregnancy.

“It is therefore vital that women with this condition are given the right information and support and are made aware of the therapeutic and alternative therapies available to help them cope.

“Women should be encouraged to rest as much as they can as this has been shown to relieve symptoms.”

Professor Alan Cameron, RCOG vice president of clinical quality, added: “This is the first edition of this guideline on this important topic, which affects many women at a crucial time in their lives.

“Women suffering severely may need input from a multi-disciplinary team including midwives, nurses, dieticians and a mental health team. This will ensure they receive the best possible care and support.”