Around half to two-thirds of all pregnant women will experience morning sickness to some degree, particularly in the first trimester. The symptoms include nausea and vomiting. Morning sickness is typically at its worst early in the day, hence its name, but it can strike at any point during the day or night.
For most women, morning sickness begins around the fourth week of pregnancy and resolves by the 12th to 14th week. However, one in five women endures morning sickness into their second trimester and an unfortunate few experience nausea and vomiting for the entire duration of their pregnancy.
In most cases, morning sickness doesn’t harm the woman or the unborn child. However, severe morning sickness that includes weight loss and dehydration needs prompt medical attention.
What Is Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness is nausea and vomiting that happens during pregnancy. More than half of pregnant women have nausea and vomiting, especially during the first trimester.
Despite its name, you can have morning sickness at any time of day. It doesn’t mean your baby is sick, and it doesn’t hurt the baby.
Pregnancy nausea is probably caused by the sudden increase of hormones in your body. It’s usually mild and goes away about midway through your pregnancy. Some women never feel nauseated during their pregnancy.
Some women get a severe form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum. This happens when severe nausea and vomiting leads to dehydration or causes the woman to lose more than 5% of her pregnancy body weight.
Sometimes, she may not get enough nutrients, leading to malnourishment. As a result, the woman may have to stay in the hospital to get fluids, medication, and rarely, a feeding tube.
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Morning Sickness Symptoms
General symptoms of morning sickness include:
- Nausea with or without vomiting during the first trimester that feels like motion sickness
- Nausea that comes on in the morning but can resurface at any time or go on all-day
- Judging sick from smelling certain foods and other odours
- Nausea after eating, especially spicy foods
- Nausea or vomiting brought on by heat and severe salivation
Morning sickness can last all day for some women. It usually starts around week 6 of pregnancy and disappears around week 12, but different women will have different experiences.
Morning sickness does not need medical attention unless it is severe and leads to dehydration and weight loss. However, some tips and home remedies can help.
Fast Facts About Morning Sickness
- Morning sickness occurs in over 50 per cent of women who become pregnant.
- It can be managed in several ways, including through dietary measures, acupressure, and rest.
- Active medical treatment is only required in cases of excessive vomiting.
- The use of medications is not recommended during pregnancy until prescribed.
The Myth Of Hysteria And Morning Sickness
Unrelenting morning sickness can have a profound effect on your quality of life, preventing you from working, socialising and looking after your other children.
Pregnant women are enduring morning sickness report higher levels of psychological stress, including anxiety and depression.
This prompted the false belief that morning sickness is purely psychosomatic, which means that the woman’s fears and anxieties trigger her physical discomfort. However, there is no research to support these claims.
Possible Causes Of Morning Sickness
The cause of morning sickness remains a mystery, but it is thought a combination of physical and metabolic factors play a significant role, including:
- High levels of hormones, including oestrogen
- Fluctuations in blood pressure notably lowered blood pressure.
- Altered metabolism of carbohydrates
- The enormous physical and chemical changes that pregnancy triggers.
Morning Sickness Causes And Risk Factors
Experts aren’t sure, but pregnancy hormones may cause nausea. In severe nausea and vomiting, there could be another medical condition that isn’t related to pregnancy.
Things that may make you more likely to have morning sickness include:
- Morning sickness during a previous pregnancy
- A sensitive stomach before pregnancy. This includes motion sickness, migraines, sensitivity to certain smells or tastes, or taking birth control pills.
- You’re pregnant with twins or other multiples. You’ll have higher levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG than a woman carrying one baby.
You’re at higher risk of hyperemesis gravidarum if:
- You’re expecting a girl.
- Hyperemesis gravidarum runs in your family.
- You had it during a previous pregnancy.
Morning Sickness Diagnosis
Diagnosing morning sickness is based on your signs and symptoms. If your doctor suspects you have hyperemesis gravidarum, they may also order urine or blood tests.
Morning sickness is typically diagnosed based on your signs and symptoms. For example, if your health care provider suspects hyperemesis gravidarum, you may need a clinical exam and various urine and blood tests.
Tips For Dealing With Morning Sickness
According to Greenfield, morning sickness can start as early as six weeks into pregnancy and tends to peak around the eighth and ninth weeks.
So how to deal? Check out the following tips. (And take heart: Many women find morning sickness symptoms taper off or disappear altogether after 12 to 14 weeks.)
Having one of those mornings when the thought of dragging yourself out of bed for work is only compounding nausea?
Then don’t do it! Instead, take a sick day and give yourself a break. Your body’s working overtime on growing that baby — you deserve it.
Even better, schedule a “vacation” during your seventh or eighth week, when morning sickness generally starts to peak.
In either case, you won’t have to divulge your pregnancy news to your coworkers before you’re ready, and the time off will help you recoup, both physically and mentally.
Sniff A Fresh Scent
Whether it’s the less-than-pleasant whiff of the garbage truck rumbling by or the smell of your coworker’s perfume in a crowded elevator, certain scents will turn your tummy.
Morning sickness is often smell-associated. Estrogen is the hormone responsible for the sense of smell, and if you’re a high estrogen hormone person — like when you’re pregnant — you have the radar nose of pregnancy.
Ugly smells you can’t get away from and potent smells will make you nauseous.
When you can’t open a window or walk away, try sniffing fresh scents. For example, carry a bottle of lemon extract or a sprig of fresh rosemary in your bag and stealthily sneak a sniff when needed.
You may be all about self-sufficiency and powering through your pregnancy, but being vocal about your feelings to those around you can help alleviate morning sickness misery.
Your hubby probably doesn’t know that his scented soap makes you queasy or that kissing you — post pizza dinner, without brushing his teeth first — gets your gag reflex going.
So tell him and let him know what minor changes he can make to help you feel better. (And when your mood improves, he’ll feel better too.)
Track Your Nausea
Your nausea may seem to come and go as it pleases, but by tuning into your body and your surroundings, you might find that your morning sickness isn’t so random.
If you find yourself getting revolted at the same time every evening, says Erick, it may be from the smells of your neighbours’ cooking.
Queasy at 3 p.m. every day? A coworker’s afternoon microwave popcorn habit could be the culprit.
Once you’ve identified your sickness triggers, you can take the appropriate steps to avoid them wherever possible.
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It sounds like a no-brainer, but getting your eight glasses a day can feel like a monumental effort when your stomach won’t keep anything down.
Despite that, it’s essential to get your liquids in because the more dehydrated you become, the more nauseated you’ll become.
To stay hydrated, try different ways of tricking your body into accepting fluids: for some women, salty snacks like potato chips and cheese curls settle their stomachs and trigger their thirst.
Others swear by crunching on ice chips or sipping ice cold or piping hot beverages. Temperature makes a difference. If a drink is at a tepid middle temperature, it sometimes makes people gag.
Find Foods That Work For You
Even if eating is the last thing you want to do, you need to get food into your stomach — it’s just a matter of figuring out what.
Every mom — and every queasy tummy — is different. What spells relief to one may spell P-U-K-E to another.
Though there’s no hard-and-fast rule about which foods work best for all morning sick mamas-to-be, many women find that it’s easier to keep down certain types of food.
Bland, carb-rich snacks like crackers, dry cereal, and pretzels have seen many preggo gals through morning sickness, as have ice-cold treats like watermelon and Popsicles.
Fatty and spicy foods may upset iffy stomachs, but if you find that they work for you, by all means, go ahead and eat them.
If you’re concerned about getting enough nutrients, try the chicken soup, which will help both hydrates you and give you some calories.
Also, eat more cold foods—hot foods may trigger nausea as they are more likely than cold foods to have an aroma.
Eat A Little — And Then A Little More
When it comes to eating, many women find that grazing all day settles their stomachs. “I call it the Six Meal Solution. When your tummy is empty, the stomach acids have nothing to feast on but your stomach lining, compounding nausea.
On the other hand, overeating can overtax the digestive system, also leading to create.
Keeping your tummy a little bit full all day and all night is the best defence against morning sickness.”
Keep a snack stash (crackers, pretzels, dried fruit, and nuts — or whatever you can keep down) nearby at all times.
Nibbling a little bit before you get out of bed in the morning can stave off nausea, and a light bedtime snack will stabilise your blood sugar throughout the night.
Eating small snacks throughout the day can also enable you to keep some food in your stomach at all times.
Get Creative With Ginger
Ginger has long been touted as a stomach soother, and studies have shown that it may help quell nausea.
Try adding a thin slice of ginger to hot water or tea or sipping flat ginger ale. Doesn’t it sound appetising?
Snack on a handful of crystallised ginger candy, nosh on gingersnaps or gingerbread, or find your tasty way to soup up the root. Microwave a ginger jam and pour it over vanilla ice cream. Yum!
Adjust Your Computer
You may think that surfing the web (and checking out the latest Brad and Angelina pics) will distract you from morning sickness, but the computer’s bright screen and undetectable strobe effect may make you more nauseated.
To combat that, adjust your screen to reduce eye strain. For example, make the font size bold and more prominent, and change the background to a soft pink or tan.
Also, take short breaks from the computer by getting up to do something else — or by simply closing your eyes.
Nausea is not easy to ignore, but finding something — anything — to take your mind off it may help you forget it for a while.
Read a book, do a Sudoku puzzle, or go for a short walk. Some moms even claim that exercise relieves their nausea, but make sure to talk to your doctor before going that route.
And of course, listen to your body — if you start feeling tired or more queasy, it’s time to stop.
Carry A Survival Kit
No matter how many times it happens, puking in public is not something you ever get used to.
But to make the sticky situation bearable, don’t leave home without stocking your bag with a few morning sickness must-haves.
Pack a clean blouse and a toothbrush, toothpaste, or bottle of mouthwash to help you freshen up post-puke.
Breath mints are a smart move, too. It’s also a good idea to carry a plastic (barf) bag for those dreaded can’t-hold-it-until-I-reach-a-bathroom moments, plus a snack stash of crackers or pretzels that you can munch when your stomach starts to feel empty or upset.
Consider Taking Meds
If you’re having a hard time keeping anything down, then it’s time to see a doctor who can determine whether you need to take something.
A combination of vitamin B6 and the sleep aid Unisom has been proven to alleviate morning sickness symptoms for some.
If that doesn’t work, a combination of stronger prescription medications, such as an acid reflux blocker, like Protonix, and a bowel stimulant, like Reglan, may also bring relief. (Of course, before taking any medication, you’ll want to check with your doctor.)
For severe sickness, you may want to talk to your doc about prescription medications like scopolamine, promethazine, prochlorperazine and trimethobenzamide. All are safe for use during pregnancy.
Once you get the okay, don’t worry about the meds harming your baby — the relief they may give you will be good for you and the baby.
It’s important not to let morning sickness go too far in the interest of avoiding medication at all costs because dehydration, calorie deprivation, and starvation state are unhealthy for the baby.
Be Open To The Unusual
Sometimes the weirdest remedies work, so don’t be afraid to pay attention to your body and follow the morning sickness relief tactics that make you feel better — no matter how strange they may seem.
Take A Holistic Approach
Remember those seasick wristbands you wore on that Caribbean cruise? Dig them out and strap them on.
Acupressure wristbands work by applying light pressure to a spot located inside the wrist believed to be related to nausea and vomiting — whether motion, sea, or morning sickness induced. Who knows? It might just make you feel a bit better.
Though Atlas cautions that such holistic remedies have been tested with mixed results, some women do find relief in them — whether it’s genuinely from the acupressure, from the placebo effect of hoping to feel better and actually feeling better, or simply from distracting them from their nausea.
Acupressure bands helped relieve some of her all-day nausea, though they may make your wrist ache, so maybe it was just taking your mind off nausea.
And on the upside, according to Atlas, acupressure and acupuncture don’t pose any risk to your baby, so press and poke away.
Sometimes the best solution is the simplest. Try lying down, closing your eyes, taking a few deep breaths, and just getting some rest.
Many doctors and moms have said that sleep is a great way to escape morning sickness — and your body needs it!
If you already have a young kid or two, bring a babysitter in (even for just a few hours a day), so you can catch up on some much needed R&R.
Are you having trouble catching those zzzs? Try wearing a sleep mask or putting on a pair of dark sunglasses to block out bright light.
Morning Sickness And Your Baby
Some women are concerned that the action of vomiting may threaten their unborn baby.
Vomiting and retching may strain the abdominal muscles and cause localised aching and soreness, but the physical mechanics of vomiting won’t harm the baby.
The fetus is perfectly cushioned inside its sac of amniotic fluid.
Numerous studies have discovered that moderate morning sickness is associated with a reduced risk of miscarriage.
However, prolonged vomiting (that leads to dehydration and weight loss) can deprive your child of proper nutrition and increase your baby’s risk of underweight at birth.
If you have nausea and vomiting that will not stop, contact your doctor or midwife.
Seeing Your Doctor About Morning Sickness
Always seek medical advice if your morning sickness is severe, if you have lost a lot of weight quickly, or if you feel depressed or anxious. Treatment options can include drugs that won’t harm your developing baby.
Where To Get Help?
- Your doctor
- Maternal and child health nurse
Things To Remember
- Around half to two-thirds of all pregnant women will experience morning sickness.
- Possible causes include high levels of hormones, blood pressure fluctuations and changes in carbohydrate metabolism.
- Severe morning sickness, called hyperemesis gravidarum, may require hospitalisation.
Symptoms of morning sickness may be relieved by eating a few dry crackers before you get up in the morning, avoiding foods and smells that make you nauseous, drinking plenty of fluids and choosing high-carbohydrate and high-protein foods.
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