Now that you are pregnant, you may be noticing that you don't feel your usual 100%. Smells might be getting to you, you might be finding it hard to keep food down, or perhaps you are feeling a little queasy throughout the day. Though unpleasant, these symptoms are an entirely normal pregnancy symptom. Commonly referred to as morning sickness, these feelings of nausea and queasiness occur in the majority of pregnant women in their first trimester, typically subsiding by the second trimester.
What is Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness is the common name given to the symptoms of nausea and vomiting that occur during pregnancy. Almost 75% of pregnant women experience morning sickness in the early stages of pregnancy. Morning sickness typically begins around the fourth week of pregnancy and usually declines towards the end of the first trimester. However, some women can experience morning sickness throughout their pregnancies.
Not Just in the Morning!
Though it is called "morning sickness," symptoms can actually occur at any time of the day or night. Nausea is most common in the mornings, when you first get out of bed, however it can also occur throughout the day or you may even wake up with it during the night. Morning sickness also tends to hit between meals, when your stomach is empty, or at the end of the day, when you are tired and fatigued.
Who Gets Morning Sickness?
Almost all pregnant women experience some form of morning sickness. However, some women are more likely to suffer from morning sickness than others. Risk factors include:
- being pregnant with twins or higher order multiples
- having had morning sickness with a previous pregnancy
- having a family history of morning sickness
- suffering from migraine headaches or motion sickness
What Causes Morning Sickness?
There is still no known cause for morning sickness. There are probably numerous causes of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy:
- Hormonal Changes: During pregnancy, your hormone levels change rapidly. Estrogen and hCG levels skyrocket, in order to help prepare your body for the upcoming pregnancy. These rising hormone levels may be responsible for triggering nausea and queasiness.
- Sensitivity to Smell: Women tend to more sensitive to smells throughout their pregnancies. It is thought that estrogen and other hormones may contribute to this heightened sense. This can make even the most delicious meal nausea-inducing!
- GI Tract Sensitivity: During pregnancy, your GI tract also becomes extremely sensitive. This means that certain foods, particularly rich or spicy ones, may irritate the lining of your stomach.
Usually, morning sickness is nothing to worry about. Yes, it's unpleasant, but it shouldn't harm you or your baby in any way. However, a small percentage of women develop a serious disorder, called hyperemesis gravidarum, during pregnancy. This is a severe form of morning sickness characterized by persistent vomiting, chronic nausea, dehydration, and weight loss. 2% of women find it impossible to keep any food down at all during early pregnancy. This can lead to severe complications, if left untreated, including:
- nutritional deficiencies
- electrolyte imbalance
- poor fetal growth
- fetal complications, including miscarriage
If you are experiencing severe vomiting or weight loss during your pregnancy, it is important to seek treatment. Your health care provider can restore any nutritional deficiencies and ensure that you and your baby are in good pregnancy health. She will also be able to treat your symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum. You may also want to share your experience with other pregnant women to help them recognize the signs of this disorder.
Treating Morning Sickness
Morning sickness can really get you down sometimes: it makes eating difficult, sleeping impossible, and work a hassle. Aim to reduce those symptoms of nausea and vomiting so you can be sure to stay healthy and happy throughout your pregnancy. Here are some great tips on how to deal with morning sickness and get nausea relief.
- Eat small meals and snacks frequently throughout the day. If your stomach is empty, this can make nausea worse, so try to eat something every two hours or so.
- Avoid foods that trigger nausea. Stay away from strong smells and try not to cook strong-smelling foods in areas without proper ventilation.
- Keep some plain crackers by your bedside. Munch on these before you get up in the morning in order to quell nausea.
- Stay hydrated. Fluids will help you from getting dehydrated and will soothe the stomach.
- Avoid fatty foods and spicy foods. These foods are hard for your stomach to digest and may trigger nausea and vomiting.
- Take your prenatal vitamins with some food or just before you head for bed.
- Suck on ginger candies or drink some ginger tea when you feel nauseated. Ginger is known to quiet a queasy tummy.
- Take a vitamin B6 supplement. For unknown reasons, vitamin B6 has be shown to be an effective nausea reliever in up to 50% of pregnant women.
- Ask your health care provider about a anti-nauseant that is safe to take during pregnancy.