While it’s not really an official symptom of pregnancy, morning sickness is a universal experience that signals the early months of pregnancy. In fact, around 70–80% of all pregnant women experience morning sickness in some form. The good news is that it’s completely normal, easy to manage, and very rarely harmful to the mother or baby.
Why Does It Happen?
Morning sickness is the common name used to refer to nausea or vomiting that a woman experiences during pregnancy. Contrary to its name, morning sickness doesn’t always happen in the morning, but can occur at any time during the day. There are three main probable causes of morning sickness.
- Hormonal factors, mostly involved in the development of the placenta can be to blame for the fact that you can’t keep your food down.1
- Some researchers think that morning sickness is thanks to one particular hormone produced during pregnancy called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).2
- When pregnant, your sense of smell and gastric reflux are much more sensitive.3 So, if you could eat canned tuna with no issues earlier, your heightened senses can make you gag at even the slightest hint of a fishy smell.
Is Morning Sickness Dangerous?
Morning sickness usually isn’t a cause for alarm. It’s easily remedied with most home treatments and disappears after the first trimester in most cases. However, you should seek medical attention in the following situations:4
- Morning sickness does not improve in spite of home remedies
- Nausea and vomiting continue beyond your 4th month of pregnancy (while this is considered normal, it’s a good idea to get it checked out)
- You start to lose weight (more than 2 pounds or 1 kilogram)
- You vomit more than 3 times a day
- You cannot keep food or liquid down
Caution: If you vomit blood or material that looks like coffee grounds, get to a hospital immediately.
Morning Sickness May Protect Your Baby
Scientists have noticed that the peak of morning sickness happens between week 6 and week 18 of pregnancy when the fetus starts to develop most of its major organs. At this time the baby is most prone to damage or disrupted development from chemical substances or illnesses.5
Turns out that morning sickness may actually have a purpose. Researchers theorize that women become averse to meats, fish, poultry, and eggs because these are foods which were most likely to contain foodborne illnesses or harmful substances before we had refrigeration. They dislike strong tasting vegetables as well as caffeinated drinks and alcoholic beverages. They tend to prefer bland foods which are generally safe to eat. So, morning sickness really does help the mother look out for herself and her baby.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that a pregnant woman who doesn’t have morning sickness is putting her baby at risk; neither does this mean that women who have morning sickness should force themselves to eat foods that make them nauseous. The bottom line is to listen to your own individual body.
Home Remedies To Help With Morning Sickness
Nausea generally hits when you have an empty stomach or you’re too full. It’s also a good idea not to aggravate the stomach with hard-to-digest foods. Try these simple tips to keep your morning sickness at bay.
- Have a small snack at bedtime so that you don’t wake up with an empty stomach.
- Eat some dry toast or plain crackers as soon as you get out of bed. Or keep them in a closed container on your bedside table for you to grab as soon as you wake up.
- Stick to bland foods like broths, crackers, and oatmeal. Get your protein from things like low-fat yogurt and cheese.
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration from vomiting.
- Your daily vitamins can cause nausea so try taking them with food, or at night just before going to sleep.
- Try ginger ale or seltzer to ease nausea between meals.
- Sniff a piece of lemon or chew on small pieces of ginger throughout the day for relief.
- Acupressure wristbands which are normally used to prevent seasickness may help with morning sickness as well.
What Not To Do If You Have Morning Sickness
- Don’t eat large meals.
- Avoid foods that are high in fat and salt.
- Don’t let yourself get too full or too hungry.
- Don’t try to eat strong-smelling or spicy foods.
- Avoid areas that are not well ventilated and trap odors easily.
- Do not stand around in areas where people are smoking.
Morning sickness is a routine and normal part of most pregnancies. As uncomfortable as it may be, you can rest assured that it does not cause any serious harm to you or your baby. These home remedies should help you find some relief and enjoy your pregnancy.
|↑1, ↑2||Lee, Noel M., and Sumona Saha. “Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.” Gastroenterology clinics of North America 40, no. 2 (2011): 309-334.|
|↑3||Morning sickness. MedlinePlus|
|↑4||Morning sickness. MedlinePlus|
|↑5||Flaxman, Samuel M., and Paul W. Sherman. “Morning sickness: a mechanism for protecting mother and embryo.” The Quarterly review of biology 75, no. 2 (2000): 113-148.|