Morning Sickness During Pregnancy – 6 Causes & 7 Symptoms You Should Be Aware Of


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Are you spending a majority of your time in the bathroom getting sick? Does the mere smell of food leave you heaving? You, my dear, are suffering from morning sickness!

One of the first symptoms pregnancy brings with it is morning sickness. Nausea and pregnancy go hand in hand. But just because it is common, doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, right?

Are you suffering from morning sickness and don’t understand how to deal with it? Well, let us tell you all that you need to know about this pregnancy morning sickness!

What Causes Morning Sickness During Pregnancy?

The exact cause of morning sickness is still not known. But according to most experts, the possible causes of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are:

1. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG): 

During pregnancy, the hormones in your body take a life of their own. One of the most important hormones during pregnancy is the hCG. It is produced by the placenta and starts pumping between 9 to 12 weeks of pregnancy. The first trimester is also the time when most women have their first encounter with morning sickness. When measured, the level of hCG is considerably higher in women suffering from pregnancy related nausea (1).

2. Multiples: 

If you are carrying twins or multiples, chances are that you’ll have to face a worse case of morning sickness.When you are carrying twins, the amount of hCG in your body is higher compared to women carrying a single child. With this extra hormone in the body, you are more likely to experience severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (2).

3. Sensitivity To Smells: 

The level of estrogen goes up during pregnancy. This can lead to hyperacuity of the olfactory system, in other words, a heightened sense of smell. Odor is one of the most common triggers of morning sickness. With your nose working overtime, you can expect nausea and vomiting while you are pregnant (3).

4. Sensitive Digestive System: 

Your digestive system goes out of gear during pregnancy and can cause morning sickness in many cases too. In some women, Helicobacter pylori infection may well be the cause of nausea and vomiting (4).

5. Stress: 

It is normal to feel stressed when you are going through something as life transforming as pregnancy. But in many women, stress is what causes morning sickness (5).

[ Read: How To Reduce Stress During Pregnancy ]

6. High Fat Diet: 

Are you craving for high-fat food? Well, that may the cause behind the bouts of nausea! Research shows that a diet rich in fat can cause morning sickness in pregnant women (6).

Morning Sickness – Who Is At Risk?

Pregnancy time nausea and vomiting (NV) is common. Around 75% of pregnant women experience morning sickness in some form. But are there some women who are more likely to experience NV during pregnancy? Yes, there are! If you fulfill any of the following criteria, your chances of getting morning sickness go up:

  • If you have previous experience of nausea and vomiting due to motion sickness, migraine, strong smells, etc. you are more likely to experience morning sickness during pregnancy (7).
  • According to folklore, a bad case of morning sickness indicates that you are carrying a girl. Now this is one pregnancy ‘myth’ which has some basis in reality. Research shows that most women with a severe case of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy go on to give birth to a girl child (8).

[ Read: Pregnancy Myths ]

Symptoms Of Morning Sickness In Pregnancy:

So, what can you expect if you get morning sickness? Here is a checklist of symptoms that most women with morning sickness experience:

  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Food Aversion
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Weight Loss
  • Dehydration

Not all women experience all the symptoms listed here. Some women are in luck and only develop mild symptoms. Some develop food aversions and end up losing weight in the first trimester. While in some extreme cases, morning sickness can last all through the pregnancy and can even require hospitalization!

Morning Sickness That Lasts All Day!

One of the biggest irony about morning sickness is that it can last all day long, and not just during mornings! The reason for calling pregnancy nausea and vomiting (NV) ‘morning sickness is that in most cases, it hits during the beginning of the day. The symptoms normally lessen as the day progresses. But this is just a general statement. The reality is that morning sickness can strike anytime. In fact, the intensity of symptoms too can vary from one pregnancy to another.

When Does Morning Sickness Start During Pregnancy?

Most cases of morning sickness begin at six week’s gestation. But for some unfortunate women, the symptoms can appear as early as four weeks – that’s before you can even do a home pregnancy test! By the time the second trimester comes along, most women find complete relief from morning sickness and related symptoms. But if you are out of luck, you may experience morning sickness symptoms till you give birth.

Is There Anything Positive About Morning Sickness?

Something as uncomfortable as morning sickness cannot possibly do any good, can it?

No matter how uncomfortable morning sickness might feel, it is nature’s way of keeping your unborn baby safe from food borne illnesses. Most food aversions during pregnancy are towards foods that can potentially harm you or your baby. Another interesting fact is that morning sickness peaks between weeks 6 and 18 of pregnancy – the time when your unborn baby is developing at a rapid pace and is most susceptible to chemical disruption (9).

So, morning sickness is your body’s survival instinct, giving your baby the maximum shot at survival.

Not just that! Women, who experience nausea during their pregnancy, are also more likely to give birth to ‘intelligent babies (10)!

Morning Sickness And Miscarriage – Is There A Connection?

Many fortunate women escape the clutches of morning sickness. But they still worry. A number of women associate lack of nausea and vomiting with an impending miscarriage. Is there some truth behind this worry?

It is true that nausea indicates a healthy pregnancy. In fact, studies do show that women, who experience nausea during pregnancy, are less likely to experience miscarriage (11). But this is just statistics. Just because you have no sign of nausea does not mean your pregnancy will end in a miscarriage. It can very well mean that you are just very lucky. The best thing is to see your doctor if you are worried.

Tips On How To Ease Morning Sickness During Pregnancy:

Now that you know all about the basics of morning sickness let’s get to the most important point – Treating or managing morning sickness. Here are some easy tips on how to help morning sickness when pregnant:

1. Medication:

Though it is always advisable to avoid medication when you are pregnant, there are times when you can make an exception. If morning sickness is making daily life difficult and if you are unable to keep anything down, you can benefit from medication. There are a number of medicines that women can try to get relief from the constant nausea. Your doctor may prescribe medications like ‘Gabapentin’, an anti-seizure and anti-pain drug (12).

2. Eat Right:

Instead of eating three big meals, try snacking through out the day to prevent morning sickness. Avoid high-fat foods – go for a protein rich diet instead. Include vitamin B6 in your diet too to keep morning sickness at bay (13).

[ Read: Vitamin B6 For Morning Sickness ]

3. Sleep Right:

How you sleep can also cause morning sickness. Do not lie down immediately after a meal if you want to avoid indigestion and nausea. When you get up in the morning, do so slowly. Take a minute, or so before you head into the day.

4. Avoid Triggers:

Every woman has a set of triggers to can make their nausea worse. For some it is the smell of certain food. For others, it is certain tastes. Once you know the trigger, try and avoid it.

5. Avoid Spicy Foods:

Spicy food may appeal to your pregnancy palate, but it does no good to your morning sickness symptoms. So avoid excessively spicy food during pregnancy.

6. Maintain Oral Hygiene:

Make sure to brush your teeth each time you eat to prevent nausea and vomiting.

7. Don’t Mix Solids And Liquids:

Try to limit your liquid intake between meals. Mixing the two together can make nausea worse.

8. Sip, Don’t Gulp:

Don’t gulp down your favorite beverage. Sip on it instead. You can even use a straw.

9. Watch Your Fluid Intake:

You need to drink at least 2.5 liters of fluid each day while pregnant. You can drink water, or juice – drink whatever is more palatable. In case you are vomiting too much, add electrolyte to avoid dehydration.

10. Avoid External Triggers:

Apart from food, there are other triggers that can cause nausea too. So avoid strong odors, flickering lights, sudden movements, stuffy room, etc.

11. Get Fresh Air:

You may feel like staying at home all day, but don’t do that to your body! Take a break, go for a walk and get some fresh oxygen inside your body (14).

12. Take It Easy:

Stress is a major cause of morning sickness for many women. So, try to relax. Meditate, listen to some good music, read a good book, or talk to a friend. The bottom line is to keep your spirits high and stress levels low!

13. Try Hypnotherapy:

Many women swear that hypnosis can do wonders for morning sickness symptoms. Give it a try!

14. Time Your Prenatal Vitamin Intake:

Prenatal vitamins can also cause nausea in some women (15). Try taking your prenatal vitamins before you go to sleep to avoid nausea. If that trick doesn’t work – consult your doctor. The best way forward will be to change or stop the medication till morning sickness goes away.

15. Try Ginger:

This is a popular remedy for treating morning sickness. Try ginger ale, ginger tea, ginger candy – anything with a good quantity of ginger can help ease nausea during pregnancy (16).

[ Read: Benefits Of Ginger During Pregnancy ]

16. Give Acupressure A Try:

You can give acupressure a try to get relief from morning sickness (17). You can buy an acupressure band to do the trick. Or you can also see a reputed acupuncturist to help you out.

17. Enjoy Some Aromatherapy:

Strong smells can trigger nausea in some women. But you can try aromatherapy. Some smell, like that of lemon oil can help ease nausea (18). Just pour a drop or two of your favorite oil on your handkerchief and sniff away nausea!

18. Wear Comfortable Clothes:

Tight fitted clothes may look good but can cause nausea during pregnancy. So opt for loose fitted clothes and stay comfortable.

19. Rest:

Your body needs rest when you are pregnant. So put your feet up and relax. Sleep well to keep nausea at bay!

20. Prevention Is Better Than Cure:

In case you are planning to conceive, make sure to take multivitamins before you start trying. This is a great way to prevent morning sickness.

When To See Your Doctor:

Mild to moderate cases of morning sickness does not need medical intervention. But if you develop severe nausea and vomiting, you may need help. Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is rare but debilitating. In case you are unable to keep anything down, talk to your doctor immediately.

HG can cause the following complications during pregnancy:

  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Malnourishment of fetus

To treat an extreme case of HG, your doctor may prescribe hospitalization and the administering of intravenous liquids and nutrition.

Morning sickness – it is one symptom most women are likely to experience during pregnancy. It can be a simple nuisance, or it can be a major health issue. But before you curse your luck, remember that a majority of women go through the same thing. Even the Duchess Of Cambridge, more popularly known as Kate Middleton, suffered from morning sickness!

If you are lucky, morning sickness will be gone for good by the end of the first trimester. But if you do get a longer version of it, don’t worry. Just keep your eye on the larger picture. Pamper yourself, eat well, exercise, and relax – your baby will be home soon, and you’ll have sleep deprivation to worry about! Who said this parenting business was easy?

Why don’t you share your morning sickness experience with us? What helped you? What triggered it? Tell us! We would love to hear from you.

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  • MomJunction

    Glad it helped you!