Understanding Morning Sickness

Ok, so I’ll admit that the first time I was pregnant I did NOT think that my symptoms included Morning Sickness, so after contending with being physically sick (stomach bug) for the last few days I decided to look into it a bit more on how to help nausea during pregnancy.

After all pregnancy is supposed to be exciting and Not the time to spend worshiping a porclin goddess… so I wanted to know, what really is Morning Sickness?

The Good News?

If there is any, it’s that many in the medical field see Morning sickness as a good sign. According to the Institute of Health Sciences at Oxford, research apparently shows that Morning Sickness actually seems to have a positive effect on pregnancy outcomes and is often associated with a healthier Mother, Delivery and Newborn Baby… go figure.

So while I wish you many sypmtoms of a healthy pregnancy (pregnancy glow anyone?) this is NOT going to be one of them!

What is Morning Sickness/Pregnancy Nausea

Morning sickness can be (and for many women is) one of the first signs that you are even pregnant, while you may not feel like celebrating the whole “throwing up” part it can be a reminder of the exciting times to come.

Check out my post on early symptoms of pregnancy you may be missing for other signs you may be pregnant.

Usually, it can show up as early as the 6th week and normally ends around the 12th week. And is not restricted to just the mornings though often can be harder to handle during the morning then the rest of the day.

However throwing up all the time and not being able to keep ANYTHING down in the extream can be problematic, so make sure to talk to your doctor if you are having issues with keeping food down.

One of the ways some women experience morning sickness is nausea that arises from bad smells. I can attest that this is not a fun way to handle a pregnancy and can last throughout pregnancy as we are in general more sensitive to smells.

During both of my pregnancies, I was dealing with this aspect all the way through. And the second time around was worse than the first 🙁

Generally speaking though, morning sickness lasts from around week 6 to the end of the first trimester.

While uncommon a small number of Mamma’s may experience it into the second and even third trimester.

And you should talk to your doctor about it as it can prevent you from gaining a healthy amount of weight and just make you miserable in general.

woman holds her hand over her mouth as she leans over the toilet about to throw up

The Causes of Morning Sickness

Hormones

Like most things in pregnancy, you have your hormones to thank for this one. Especially during the first trimester as the baby takes over your pituitary gland to help build the placenta and kick start baby’s growth.

The main offenders are hCG (aka Human Chorionic Gonadotropin), which is produced by the fertilized egg to help grow the placenta.

And, of course, our good friend estrogen, which helps everything grow and develop from the uterine lining that protects your baby to baby itself. Both of these hormones do a rapid dump into your system during early pregnancy.

Because you’re body isn’t used to handling such an intense hit of these hormones it can make you feel sick. Once you get to the second trimester however your hormone levels are still changing just not as quickly so it’s easier to handle. (Usually)

Because of all the changes to your system you may also notice that your digestive system slows down which means food doesn’t pass through as quickly and that can add to the feeling as well.

Our Sense of Smell

Also during pregnancy our sense of smell is enhanced and it can be strong enough to turn you off of things that used to be your favourites. Looking back I know I had “morning sickness” in my first pregnancy because I stopped eating some things due to the gag reflex caused by the smell of the item.

While some researchers believe this could be a result of higher estrogen no one really knows for sure how our noses get so sensitive.

With each pregnancy being unique it’s a challenge to know who will feel the Nausia and who won’t, but on average 50% of women will experience it during a pregnancy.

It’s more likely during pregnancies with multiples (the hormone dosage is higher), or if you’re pregnant with a girl or prone to motion sickness usually.

However, having had Morning Sickness with one pregnancy doesn’t mean you will get it with the next one.

Woman Suffering With Morning Sickness In Bathroom At Home

Morning Sickness Symptoms

For most Moms-to-be, morning sickness means nausea and some vomiting. But some Moms never get it, and a very unlucky few have Hyperemesis Gravidarum or severe morning sickness. Which is nausea and vomiting so frequently that they’ll require hospitalization to keep them hydrated.

And lets be clear, calling it “Morning Sickness” does not restrict the symptoms to the morning. I would say that the majority of the time women experience it at different times of the day than just the Morning.

Will nausea affect my baby?

For most women the simple answer is No. Mild to moderate nausea and some vomiting won’t harm baby.

And even if you don’t gain any weight in the first trimester, it’s generally not a problem as long as you are able to stay hydrated and can keep some food down. Most of the time your appetite will return soon enough and you’ll start gaining weight then.

Even if morning sickness keeps you from eating a balanced diet make sure you keep taking your prenatal vitamin, which has essential nutrients you and baby need.

woman holds her head in her hands with a grumpy "not feeling well" look on her face

How to handle Morning Sickness

There are many tips and tricks out there to help us deal with morning sickness, including

Medication

Talking to your doctor about medication, I start with this one because it can be a lifesaver to use a medication specifically to help keep your nausea under control.

And make sure you know the side effects. I picked up my first ever prescription the morning I wrote this and apparently one of the side effects to my prescription is sleepiness… yeah, 1 pill and 8 hours later I feel rested but didn’t get anything done that I had hoped to.

However as a “drug-free type Mamma” I still recommend that if your morning sickness is affecting your daily life you talk to your doctor or Midwife about medication.

Take your prenatals

A common reason for nausea is a vitamin deficiency, specifically Vitamin B6. So talk to your care provider about making sure you are taking enough of it.

Avoid Known Triggers

Avoid the triggers (heat, strong food odors, and scents) – I know this one seems common sense, but it needs to be stated anyway. If you have something the is triggering the nausea the simplest answer is to avoid it.

Fresh Air

You may be picking up on scents in the area that you are not fully aware you are smelling. Stepping outside to get fresh air will clear that away and help you breathe a bit better.

woman sits on a bed, holding her hand over her mouth in a gesture that is unsure if she will throw up or not

Eat Smaller Meals

While good advice for a healthy lifestyle, in general, this one can also help with morning sickness and keep you well-nourished at the same time.

Using the “Grazing” method to basically snack your way through out the day can definitely help. So long as you stick to healthy options like fresh veggies, nuts and a variety of yummy treats that are good for you.

Cold fizzy Drinks

Sip them, I like 7up myself for this as I grew up using it to settle an upset stomach. But something like ginger ale might work better for you.

Keep Snacks by your bed

First thing in the morning don’t roll out of bed without munching on something a little salty. There is a reason why many movies show this as a go-to nausea reducer, because and empty tummy is more likely to get upset.

So stash a box of crackers by your bed and have some when you wake up.

Drink between meals

Sometimes the mix of water with food can upset a stomach, try drinking between meals instead of during meals.

If you are not drinking enough water check out how to drink more water easily for ideas on how to sneak it into your day.

Hard Candies

Something like these preggie pop drops can help reduce nausea just by sucking on them. Bonus if they also give you a bit of sugar to keep your energy from totally tanking.

Getting Plenty of rest

I know this sounds like common sense but if you are tiered try and lay down for a bit, listen to your body and let it guide you for what you need. If you are overly tired it can cause your sense like the sense of smell to be overly sensitive.

Acupressure or Acupuncture

There are a variety of points on your body and specifically in your hands and arms that can help relieve some symptoms, do your research and see if any of them work for you.

Personally I like to rub the point at the base of my thumb where it meets the hand, using a clockwise motion and pressing as deep as I can. Not only does it help me with nausea but it’s helped with a headache or two as well.

The Big thing to remember

Morning sickness sucks, I hear ya. But the big thing to remember is that this is temporary. Before you know it you will be holding the baby in your arms and chances are you won’t be thinking much about nausea or discomfort you had while the baby was growing.

So do what you can to take care of yourself. And let your body guide you with what it needs now while you do this amazing thing of growing a whole new human!

Morning Sickness or Pregnancy Nausea is no joke, and many women look for natural remedies to provide relief from their some times all day suffering with this early pregnancy symptom.  Here are my top 10 tips for handling morning sickness and why the heck it happens in the first place.  What is normal, what you can do to help deal with morning sickness and when you should seek help