Morning sickness knows no boundaries. Many women the world over are intimately familiar with the nausea, vomiting, and misery that often announce a pregnancy, even before a urine test proves it. Morning sickness usually begins in and lasts through the first trimester. Sometimes, though, it ends only after delivery.
Morning Sickness May Be A Good Thing
But could this bane of pregnancy actually be doing your baby good? Several studies are giving us reasons to believe so.
In 2014, researchers found that women who reported moderate to severe vomiting and nausea during pregnancy often had babies with no abnormalities and birth defects.1
A more comprehensive study published in September 2016 indicates that morning sickness could mean a healthy pregnancy. This study tracked women who were trying to conceive as well as those who experienced very early miscarriages.2
Two main findings emerged:
- There were fewer miscarriages among women who experienced nausea, vomiting, or both than among those who didn’t have these symptoms. In general, the babies were carried to full term and born healthy in the group who experienced morning sickness.
- Even women who’d gone through miscarriages previously, but had experienced nausea and vomiting during the trial, showed lower chances of a miscarriage.
It is important to note, though, that this does not mean that women who do not experience morning sickness are doomed. Women without any symptoms can also have healthy pregnancies.
How Does Morning Sickness Help?
Anyone who has ever had morning sickness will tell you it is far from a pleasant experience. The frequent retching and inability to eat many foods can cause the healthiest of mothers to require rest and recuperation. How, then, is morning sickness helpful?
Rids A Pregnant Woman Of Toxins
One theory is that the nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness evolved to help a pregnant woman get rid of toxins and substances harmful to the fetus. This theory also states that nausea and vomiting may actually prompt the woman to eat more, thus providing a healthy dose of nutrients for the mother and child.3
Signals Healthy Hormone Levels
Another more recent theory states that nausea and vomiting are simply healthy indicators of the hormones involved in pregnancy. Levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone released by the placenta, are elevated throughout pregnancy. This hormone is helpful in fetal development and is often the very first indicator of pregnancy.4
Indicates The Fetus Has A Good Nutrient Supply
In women who have significant levels of this hormone, the symptoms of nausea and vomiting are more pronounced, and the placenta is often thicker. A healthy placenta offers adequate nutrition and blood supply to a fetus. Hence, nausea and vomiting may simply be “signs” that all is well in the body, both for the mother and baby.5
Too Much Of An Inconvenient Thing
When nausea and vomiting get out of control, a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum occurs. This condition gained a lot of visibility after Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, was admitted to a hospital for hyperemesis during her first pregnancy.
In a study done in the 1990s, women with hyperemesis were able to carry their babies to term but more of the newborn children were born with nervous system disorders, perhaps because of the excessive vomiting.6
To ensure the well-being of both you and your baby, it is important to seek medical attention if you have severe vomiting, persistent nausea, dehydration, and weight loss – sure signs of hyperemesis.7
Natural Ways To Deal With Morning Sickness
While it is good news that morning sickness is actually a positive sign, it does not make it any less unpleasant. Fortunately, several natural ways and home remedies can help alleviate its symptoms. Of course, it the best to discuss the most suitable approach for you with your doctor.
Food And Drinks
- Eat and drink whenever the nausea subsides, and opt for small meals at frequent intervals.
- Eat foods that are dry and bland (sandwiches, raw and steamed vegetables, fruits, broths, soups, etc.) and avoid anything overly sweet, spicy, oily, or fried.
- Sip fluids throughout the day (water, seltzer, coconut water, lemon water, etc.) to avoid dehydration. You can also try smoothies made of vegetables and fruits.8
- Taking ginger extract, drinking ginger tea or ale, or even having a couple spoonfuls of undiluted ginger juice may help reduce the symptoms of morning sickness.9 One study found that ginger was as effective as vitamin B6 supplements, which are usually used to quell pregnancy nausea.10
- Acupressure is the most widely known therapy for morning sickness that doesn’t involve medication. In a study, about 70% of all women who underwent acupressure reported that their symptoms had improved.11
- In Ayurveda, it is believed that an excess of the pitta dosha is responsible for morning sickness. Having rose milk with a teaspoon of ghee at bedtime can help balance pitta and reduce morning sickness.12 Practitioners also recommend supplements made of asparagus, rose, lotus root, and cardamom.13
|↑1||Koren, Gideon, Svetlana Madjunkova, and Caroline Maltepe. “The protective effects of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy against adverse fetal outcome—a systematic review.” Reproductive toxicology 47 (2014): 77-80.|
|↑2, ↑5||Stefanie N. Hinkle, Sunni L. Mumford, Katherine L. Grantz, Robert M. Silver, Emily M. Mitchell, Lindsey A. Sjaarda, Rose G. Radin, Neil J. Perkins, Noya Galai, Enrique F. Schisterman. “Association of Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy With Pregnancy Loss.” JAMA Internal Medicine.(2016).|
|↑3||Coad, Jane, Buthaina Al-Rasasi, and Jane Morgan. “Nutrient insult in early pregnancy.” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 61, no. 01 (2002): 51-59.|
|↑4||Lee, Noel M., and Sumona Saha. “Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.” Gastroenterology clinics of North America 40, no. 2 (2011): 309-334.|
|↑6||Depue, Robert H., Leslie Bernstein, Ronald K. Ross, Howard L. Judd, and Brian E. Henderson. “Hyperemesis gravidarum in relation to estradiol levels, pregnancy outcome, and other maternal factors: a seroepidemiologic study.” American journal of obstetrics and gynecology 156, no. 5 (1987): 1137-1141.|
|↑7, ↑8||Hyperemesis gravidarum, US National Library of Medicine.|
|↑9||Murphy, Patricia Aikins. “Alternative therapies for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.” Obstetrics & Gynecology 91, no. 1 (1998): 149-155.|
|↑10||Borrelli, Francesca, Raffaele Capasso, Gabriella Aviello, Max H. Pittler, and Angelo A. Izzo. “Effectiveness and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting.” Obstetrics & gynecology 105, no. 4 (2005): 849-856.|
|↑11||Norheim, Arne Johan, Erik Jesman Pedersen, Vinjar Fønnebø, and Lillian Berge. “Acupressure treatment of morning sickness in pregnancy. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” Scandinavian journal of primary health care 19, no. 1 (2001): 43-47.|
|↑12||Lad, Vasant. The complete book of Ayurvedic home remedies. Harmony, 1999.|
|↑13||Buhrman, Sarasvati. “Ayurvedic approaches to women’s health.” Protocol J Botanic Med 1, no. 4 (1996): 2-7.|