Morning sickness is a common complaint amongst pregnant women. It is thought that around 9 out of 10 pregnant women report either being sick or feeling sick during their pregnancy, particular in the first trimester. Whilst it’s referred to as “Morning Sickness” it can affect you at any time of day or night.
What Causes Morning Sickness?
Although there has been plenty of research on the topic, the exact cause of Morning Sickness is uncertain. However, there is general consensus amongst medical and scientific professionals that it is caused by an increase in the hormone hu
man chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which occurs during the first trimester. This is the same hormone that pregnancy tests detect to create a positive result. Other possible causes include a heightened sense of smell that many pregnant women have that results in a gag reflex, and a decrease in the speed of your digestive system caused by hormonal changes.
Furthermore, there are some factors that increase your chances of experiencing morning sickness, and these include:
- If you regularly experience migraines
- If you have close family members (i.e. Mother, Sister) who have experienced severe Morning Sickness
- If you regularly experience motion sickness
- If you experienced morning sickness during a previous pregnancy
- If you are carrying a girl (thought to be as a result of the increased levels of oestrogen)
- If you are carrying more than one baby, i.e. twins or triplets
When Does Morning Sickness Start?
No two pregnancies are alike, but for many women morning sickness typically starts when they are six weeks pregnant. This fits in with the theory that it is caused by increased levels of the hormone hCG, as this is when levels start to rise significantly. So, whilst the symptoms of morning sickness can be unbearable, it’s also a sign that your pregnancy is progressing as it should.
Very few women experience sickness in the morning only and the nausea and vomiting can strike at any time of day, often without warning. Thankfully, for the majority of women, symptoms tend to go away by the middle of the second trimester.
What Are The Symptoms Of Morning Sickness?
Whilst morning sickness is typically associated with vomiting, not every woman will experience this. Some simply feel nausea – a feeling of sickness. Both vomiting and feeling sick can occur at any time and could be triggered by strong or foul smelling odours. You may also feel tired as a result of the sickness.
What Treatments / Remedies Are Available For Morning Sickness?
Unfortunately, there is no magic one-size-fits-all cure for morning sickness, and what may have helped your friend or family member may have little or no effect on you. However, there are plenty of things that women around the world use to keep their morning sickness at bay, and you may find one or more of these helpful.
Eat A Little And Often
Some women report that eating small amounts can actually help them to feel less sick. Eating a little and often rather than a large meal at regular intervals will prevent stomach acid building up on an empty stomach, which can make you feel more sick. You may find that carbohydrates, such as toast and crackers, are easier to consume than other foods, however, there are plenty of women who report only being able to stomach more unusual foods such as crisps or custard! Make sure you take a multi-vitamin to keep stocked up on those important nutrients and if you are really unable to eat any sort of food then seek medical advice.
Keep Your Fluids Up
If you are dehydrated, you may find your nausea worsens. Of course, if you are experiencing vomiting it may be hard to try and drink enough fluids, thus creating a vicious circle. Try sucking on some ice cubes; some women report that this is often easier than drinking water when they are feeling sick.
Popular amongst practitioners of Chinese Medicine, ginger is regularly used to treat upset stomachs. Grate some fresh ginger into a teapot, fill with boiling water, and leave for a few minutes before straining into a cup. You could also try ginger tea bags available in most supermarkets, or munch on some ginger biscuits. However, if you suffer from heartburn, you might find that this is exacerbated by the ginger.
Some women experience relief from nausea by the taste of mint. You could try keeping a pack of mints close by, or drinking peppermint tea, which is often used in alternative medicine to treat upset stomachs. However, like ginger, peppermint tea can also cause heartburn.
Nausea in pregnancy is associated with a heightened sense of smell and for many women, so getting some fresh air can help relieve symptoms. You could also carry a small scented bag such as a lavender bag with you for those moments you are unable to get outside, for example, when you are in the office.
Get Rest And Support
Morning sickness can leave you feeling fatigued and that tiredness can make your sickness worse. Make sure you get plenty of rest, taking naps when you can. If you are in work, think about booking some annual leave during the first trimester when you are likely to feel at your worse. Get your partner or family members to help around the house and maybe pop to the supermarket on your behalf if the smells and sights there make you feel worse.
Can Morning Sickness Cause Any Complications Or Harm My Baby?
For most women, morning sickness will have no lasting effect. If you are unable to get enough nutrients from eating, your baby will simply take them from your own body. If you were underweight before you were pregnant and experience severe morning sickness, then it is possible to birth an underweight baby.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum – Severe Morning Sickness
A small number of women experience Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which is a more severe form of morning sickness. Women with HG will vomit multiple times a day and unlike most cases of morning sickness, HG lasts well into pregnancy. This often leads to dehydration, which can then cause headaches, fatigue, and even constipation. Furthermore, HG can cause Ketosis, which is where acid builds up in your blood and urine as a result of your body getting energy from its fat stores rather than your food intake, and this can be harmful to your baby.
If you are diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum you may be given medication to help relieve the symptoms. If medication does not work, then you will probably have to go into hospital for intravenous fluids and medication.
Thankfully, this condition is very rare, affecting around one in one hundred women, and for most women, morning sickness is just an unpleasant side effect of pregnancy that is quickly and easily overcome.