Morning Sickness: Can it be all in your throat??
December 12, 2005 1:51 PM   Subscribe

MorningSicknessFilter: I am eight weeks pregnant. I've been suffering through "morning" sickness for about two-three weeks (which lasts throughout the day, and is worst in the evening), but I'm noticing something increasingly strange....

.... its not my stomach that is upset, although I'm fairly gassy. I feel, at almost all times, like something is stimulating my gag reflex -- like something is pressing directly on the upper back of my throat and making me want to gag. Is this normal? My impression is that, for most women, its nasuea based in their stomach rather than something in the back of the throat. Could gas pressure be causing this weird and unpleasant feeling.

Some other info: I miscarried in January, and again in May, both times at about 10 weeks. I did not experience any sickness in either prior pregnancy. My medical care is from a small (2 woman) midwife practice, and I saw my regular midwife at about 5-6 weeks and am not scheduled again until 10 weeks (the week after Christmas). Suzanne ("my" midwife) and I did discuss the sickness (which was just starting) at my first visit, and she is having me use peppermint, B6, ginger, and an increased protein intake to keep it under control. She is on vacation this week and next week, and I can have her paged through her service if I need to, but I hate to bother her for something that is really as trivial as this -- if it is trivial.

Currently, I don't feel sick at all right after I eat, and the feeling gets worse as my stomach gets emptier and emptier, but I'm given to understand this is a normal pattern. This isn't keeping me from eating -- in fact, I go through phases where I'm just amazingly hungry and Must Eat Right Now.

I don't have a stuffed up nose or anything noticable going on in my nose or throat that would seem to be causing this gag reflex feeling

Its wildly unpleasant and seems to be getting worse. Advice? Is the back-of-the-throat thing normal? Should I have Suzanne paged in the middle of her vacation?

(PS: This question is anonymous so I don't have to tell the whole world should I miscarry again)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (28 answers total)
Uuuuh. have Suzanne paged. C'mon.
posted by xmutex at 2:07 PM on December 12, 2005

My experience with morning sickness has been similar. Sometimes I'm nauxeus in my stomach, which is when I'm going to actually throw up. It used to happen about once a day, now (at 14 weeks) it's down to a couple of times a week. But throughout the day I feel what I would describe not as pressure, but as a dry spot in the back of my throat that makes me gag. That happens many times, every day.
Two miscarriages? How devastating! *Hugs*
posted by leapingsheep at 2:12 PM on December 12, 2005

uhh.....spellcheck is my neglected friend.
posted by leapingsheep at 2:12 PM on December 12, 2005

Have her paged. Maybe someone is covering for her? I would guess so, possibly a physician. Either way, with your history I would contact someone.

posted by 6:1 at 2:16 PM on December 12, 2005

My wife's morning sickness was always gag-related. Brushing her teeth in the morning was always a chore, as just the act of putting the toothbrush in her mouth and spitting were enough to induce the vomiting.

We always knew it was the pregnancy causing this problem as she...well...never had a problem gagging on things before. *blush*
posted by thanotopsis at 2:21 PM on December 12, 2005

Could gas pressure be causing this weird and unpleasant feeling?

Yep. If you swallow enough air, it will make you feel nauseated. I sometimes swallow air for my own amusement (it is a way to make myself burp), and if I hold in too much I start to feel sick. Also, if I don't burp it up, it eventually turns into a fart.

Lovely, eh?
posted by Monday at 2:29 PM on December 12, 2005

Hmm--my *hug* didn't show up on post . . .
posted by 6:1 at 2:29 PM on December 12, 2005

I think the gag reflex feeling is pretty normal. My sister had the same experience of gagging and throwing up just thinking about brushing her teeth. I'm just at 12 weeks and my sickness is finally relenting but it felt like being car sick for 2 months. I think its different for everyone. I never wanted to eat - but I found that if I could start eating and eat a small amount of food constantly - it seemed to help. I kept apple slices at my desk.
Is it any consolation that extreme sickness if often a good sign of a healthy pregnancy?
I think if you are concerned, though, you should definitely call your midwife. Alternatively, are they affiliated with any physicians office? Maybe it would be easier for whoever they have on-call to reassure you - or give you some advice for feeling better.
Good thoughts!
posted by Wolfie at 2:30 PM on December 12, 2005

Yeah, my pregnancy sickness usually presented the same way. Much more of a constant gagging than a nausea.

I carried a sack of trail mix with me everywhere I went. Between the nuts, the fruit, and the chocolate chips, there was always SOMETHING that I could get down, and the protein and B-vitamins in the nuts were really helpful with the sickness. Plus, it's tidy, easy to carry around, didn't require refrigeration, could be stashed in a pocket, could be discreetly munched at work--basically, a perfect food for the situation.
posted by padraigin at 2:33 PM on December 12, 2005

My morning sickness was an ultra-sensitive gag reflex, too. Could barely brush my teeth, etc. etc. Peppermint tea and ginger chews helped a bit, but I basically just had to ride it out. So no, it's not at all abnormal. But if you feel concerned, go ahead and make the call.
(And I send congratulations and hopes for a healthy pregnancy your way.)
posted by jrossi4r at 2:41 PM on December 12, 2005

Morning sickness is no fun at all, but do keep in mind that many doctors and midwives think it's an indicator that your pregnancy is progressing well and you are less likely to miscarry.

Your body is working very hard and is flooded with hormones right now, so it can be tricky to figure out what's "normal" or not. I've heard other women talk about that gagging feeling so you're certainly not alone. For me it was like having a two-month hangover.

There's no magic bullet for morning sickness, but here's what helped me the most: Eat small amounts of simple foods every 2-3 hours. I had good luck with crackers, cheese, fruit, yogurt and soups. Stay well hydrated but don't drink and eat at the same time. Gatorade and lemon fizzy water were the most palatable for me. Tums are your best bet for the gassiness.

Oh, and get as much rest as you possibly can. Good luck!
posted by naomi at 2:54 PM on December 12, 2005

A18...I suggested that I should spell check, not the poster!

Anon, I just wanted to add that dry, salty food like saltines calm my stomach.
posted by leapingsheep at 2:57 PM on December 12, 2005

Page Suzanne. Part of her role as a professional is making the call about what's trivial and what isn't. Taking calls on your holiday from the "worried well" is the price you pay for being an independant midwife.

If it comes to that, normal practise in my neck of the woods is for midwives to have a number 2/partner/backup arranged for when you are away. Where's Suzanne's stand-in? Call her.

(I am not a midwife but I used to be married to one).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:01 PM on December 12, 2005

That sounds pretty normal to me...though of course consult your midwife if you are too worried. What you describe is exactly what I experienced. Eating spinach, teeth brushing, even drinking water, all made me gag the first trimester.

One suggestion--since you say you feel better after eating...just eat constantly. I'm not kidding :) Eating small constant amounts of light snacky food can really help.
posted by eileen at 3:21 PM on December 12, 2005

If you can find seabands, try them. They use an accupressure point to help calm nausea. Good luck with your pregnancy.
posted by theora55 at 3:29 PM on December 12, 2005

Apologies for misunderstanding
posted by A189Nut at 3:37 PM on December 12, 2005

it's probably reflux (GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease). GERD often accompanies pregnancy, and doesn't necessarily have to feel like heartburn.

you can graze throughout the day, try any number of home remedies, or break out the tums or even pepcid or a similar antacid. don't take prilosec (an over-the-counter proton pump inhibitor), as it's classified as a category C for pregnancy.

best of luck!

(blahblah, i may not be a real doctor, nor may i play one on TV, etc. any real blahblah, go see a real-life physician, plz. seriously. also: i agree with what everyone else has been saying: call yr health care provider if you have any concerns-- that's what they're there for!)
posted by herrdoktor at 3:57 PM on December 12, 2005

oh, geez, i forgot to mention: if you DO choose to take _anything_, be sure you ask your health care provider first. don't just go out and take some pepcid cause some loon on the internets said so.
posted by herrdoktor at 4:00 PM on December 12, 2005

Based on my morning sickness experiences, i would agree with most of what has been said so far. I also gagged easily, especially on the very tricky toothbrush.

Never letting my stomach empty, and staying hydrated (Gatorade worked for me) seemed to help me. Although with my third pregnancy I was just miserable most of the the time no matter what I tried.

Also, from my own experience and from friends of mine, morning sickness is a very good sign that you will NOT miscarry. A friend recently lost what would have been her fifth child. She said that it was the only pregnancy that she hadn't felt sick.

Good luck, and don't worry.
posted by rintj at 4:04 PM on December 12, 2005

Jolly Rancher candies saved me when I was pregnant the first time. My morning sickness was just as you describe it, and sucking on something sour seemed to alleviate that gaggy feeling.

With baby number 2, however, I had come to associate the flavor of the candies with being sick, so I had to find something else. I never found something as consistently relieving, but for some reason spinach pies and bakery pizza were craved and consumed often.

(I don't know if there is such a thing as bakery pizza in other parts of the country. It's very common in RI. It's a thin, rectangular piece of dough covered with thick tangy sauce and no cheese. The acidity in the sauce, which is almost as thick as tomato paste, was probably what did the trick.)

If you have trouble with toothbrushing, I found the plain baking soda paste to be palatable, since it was salty rather than minty.

Good luck!
posted by Biblio at 5:07 PM on December 12, 2005

I never had a severe gagging reflex -- just near-constant nausea -- but a pregnant friend did. I remember going out with her and our toddlers and she was dry-retching while we were chatting. She'd been like that for a couple of weeks and it was as normal to her as the hiccups.

For my morning sickness, I used Seabands (worked okay), ginger candy and sour Skittles (worked well). I ate lots of pasta in cheese sauce, too, to keep my blood sugar up and keep something in my stomach at all times.
posted by tracicle at 5:27 PM on December 12, 2005

Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy is no joke. You're doing your treating practitioner - and yourself - a disservice if you fail to inform her about it. If you want to learn what can happen when it goes unchecked, look up hyperemesis gravidarum.

The gagging and vomiting are probably neurologically mediated, owing to stimulation of the chemoreceptor trigger zone in the brainstem - this is one of only a couple places where the blood brain barrier is permeable, allowing toxins to enter the brain tissue. In some women, something changes here in pregnancy, resulting in nausea and vomiting that has no obvious physiological cause.

Ginger has been used with good effect in many cases of NVP; it's felt to be safe and effective. I can't recommend what you personally should do; only your doctor should do that.

By the way, Suzanne knew what she was doing when she signed up for her job. Page the hell out of her. And if it gets to the point where you can't keep anything down for more than a day, you may want to consider a brief hospitalization under the care of an obstetrician.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:42 PM on December 12, 2005

Also, it's a two-person practice. Her partner will at least be able to see you ASAP if you want, and help determine next steps. But ikkyu2's right - page away. That's why they're there, especially after two recent miscarriages. Good luck, and we're sending you hugs, but you should also have peace of mind by talking to someone who can examine and look after your well-being.
posted by fionab at 6:52 PM on December 12, 2005

ikkyu2 is right, as usual. You should call Suzanne, vacation or no. When you have a small business, there is no such thing as a real vacation. She either has someone covering for her, or she is willing to talk to you directly. I get the impression you feel bad about it -- don't. Many geeks are used to being on call 24/7, and we just keep computers running. This is a little more important. Make the call.

I got paged on the way to my bachelor party, while I was in the middle of the Mojave desert. SSH wasn't easy from there, but that is the price you pay to work for yourself.
posted by bh at 7:21 PM on December 12, 2005

Peppermint decreases the tone of your lower esophageal sphincter. Trans=makes it easier to vomit, and more likely to get heartburn. Other stuff that decreases LES tone: alcohol, cigarrettes, chocolate (sorry).

Ginger I second (ginger ale, diet is fine). Being nauseous and or vomiting, your primary worry is dehydration. People get hospitalized for dehydration. Especially pregnant people.

Limit intake of butter, spicy foods, and high fat foods.

Vitamin B6=helpful and is very good for developing fetuses.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (Hey I just translated it into latin!) is usually associated with the first 8-20 weeks of pregnancy.

--From Griffith's 5 minute clinical consult (2002)
posted by gilgul at 8:21 PM on December 12, 2005

I had a real problem with gag reflex during the early part of my pregnancy, esspecially while brushing my teeth or (so heartbreaking!) when my sweet sweet dog exhaled near me. For months, even remembering what his breath was like made me dry heave.
Best wishes to you, and please call Suzanne - she'll understand.
posted by maryh at 10:48 PM on December 12, 2005

I can verify that this is not all that uncommon. My wife (3 months and 3 days along right now) is currently going through the exact same sensation.
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:52 PM on December 12, 2005

I'm in the same boat myself (8 weeks, experiencing nausea). I think herrdoktor is onto something. I've definitely noticed an increase in heartburn and a sense of pressure in my mid-chest area. From what I read, these sort of symptoms are the result of the digestive system slowing down, which is a normal part of pregnancy - it lets your body absorb nutrients more efficiently. You should definitely call Suzanne/the Midwife practice and let them know what's going on. It's what you hired them for, to ensure that your pregnancy progresses in a healthy way.

Also, part of the problem may be the prenatal vitamins. I've just been feeling miserable for weeks, thinking that it was just typical morning sickness. A few days ago, I forgot to take my prenatal vitamin and noticed that I didn't felt sick all day. When I spoke to the doctor, she recommended that I try taking regular vitamins instead of the prenatals. I'm going to give it a shot.

I hope you feel better soon.
posted by echolalia67 at 2:48 PM on December 14, 2005

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