What Is Morning Sickness?

Morning sickness is a common occurrence in pregnant women and is oftentimes one of the first signs of pregnancy. In fact, it occurs in more than half of all pregnant women. While it can occur any time of day, the symptoms typically begin in the morning, thus earning the name “morning sickness.” It often occurs around the sixth week of pregnancy and tends to end around the twelfth week for most women. However, if it persists well into the second trimester, after the thirteenth week, it’s important to see a doctor to end morning sickness.

In morning sickness you feel as though you have a really bad case of the flu. For others, you may just feel much run down and tired. Some people vomit, others do not. Morning sickness can or may not be something that happens to you when you are pregnant. For many expectant mothers, it does happen and when it does it is going to be unique to this baby, to your body and to your situation.

The level of nausea is different from one person to the next. About 50 to 95% of all women that become pregnant will experience some battle of morning sickness. It can range from mild, occasional nausea to severe, continuous, disabling nausea with bouts of vomiting. Symptoms may be worse in the morning, though they can strike at any time of the day or night. Some women find that it is more severe at mealtimes.

We don’t really know what causes nausea in pregnancy. Some theories have to do with the hormone progesterone, which is the dominant hormone during pregnancy. It has a generalized “softening” effect on smooth muscle, which would include the stomach. Perhaps this effect was meant for the uterus to prevent preterm labor, but its effects are also generalized to many other organs. We know that the entire gastrointestinal system slows down and this is what causes constipation in pregnancy.

Another theory is that elevated levels of steroid hormones and HCG (human chorionic gonadotopin) may be involved. These hormones are secreted by the ovary and the newly implanting embryo. Several studies have suggested that pregnancies “complicated” by nausea have better outcomes (fewer miscarriages). So it may be that nausea is actually a good thing!
There is no way of predicting how long your morning sickness will last, even if you have suffered through it before. Nausea and vomiting usually go away by 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy. But in some cases, it can last well into a pregnancy.

Approximately 50% of all pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting between the sixth and the twelfth week of pregnancy. It’s completely normal and can occur at any time of the day, although it is called morning sickness. But 1 in 300 women will have severe abnormal vomiting which is, continual nausea and vomiting after the twelfth week.

This type of vomiting is called Hyperemesis gravidarum, and it can result in dehydration, acidosis, malnutrition and weight loss. This condition can be dangerous to the fetus if persists. The reason for Hyperemesis gravidarum has not been identified yet, but an association between high levels of the hormones estrogen and chronic gonadotropin ( HCG ) has been found. HCG is a hormone produced by the placenta that increases until the end of the first trimester.

When does morning sickness start?

Many women, especially during their first pregnancy, wonder if they will experience morning sickness, and when the morning sickness starts. It can be overwhelming. During your first, or even another pregnancy you may wonder if you will have it, when it starts, when it ends, what symptoms you could have and how you will deal with it all.

Morning sickness is usually in the first three months of pregnancy. Although with some pregnancies and people it never shows up and with some it may last longer than three months. With some people and pregnancies people might actually vomit often, others might have dry heaves, and others might just feel nauseous. It can last all day, but generally is worse in the morning.

A study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology released in May 2000 suggested that morning sickness could help regulate levels of insulin in a pregnant woman’s bloodstream, particularly during the early stages of pregnancy when bloodstream insulin levels tend to increase. Insulin, which is released in response to food intake, regulates blood sugar levels. As insulin levels increase in the bloodstream, more fat is metabolized. It appears that during early pregnancy, vomiting keeps insulin levels down, thus slowing fat metabolism. This is beneficial to the fetus because it ensures there are enough nutrients to fuel their early developments.

What causes morning sickness?

We don’t really know what causes nausea in pregnancy. Some theories have to do with the hormone progesterone, which is the dominant hormone during pregnancy. It has a generalized “softening” effect on smooth muscle, which would include the stomach. Perhaps this effect was meant for the uterus to prevent preterm labor, but its effects are also generalized to many other organs. We know that the entire gastrointestinal system slows down and this is what causes constipation in pregnancy.

There are several theorized factors for morning sickness, though no single one has been pinpointed as the leading major cause of it. The first two reasons are chemical in nature, having to do with a very high increase in estrogen levels in the blood stream combined with a lowered blood sugar level. These two factors are more than enough to cause nausea from the blood chemistry imbalance alone.

Aside from the chemical part, however, is the fact that the woman’s uterus undergoes physical changes to make room for the developing baby, which also alters the pregnant woman’s stomach and intestines. These physical changes combine with a heightening of the senses (especially scent!) and changes to motor coordination that also accompany childbirth.

The heightened sensitivity and changes to motor coordination from the nerves combine to amplify the feelings generated from the physical changes in the stomach area, which also contributes to the nausea. Several studies have suggested that pregnancies “complicated” by nausea have better outcomes (fewer miscarriages). So it may be that nausea is actually a good thing!

Is there a cure for morning sickness?

pillsWell, yes and no. It really depends upon the level of sickness that you have. If it’s mild, some hot ginger ale and crackers before you move out of bed may help some. Most OB/GYN doctors suggest an over the counter medicine called “Emetrol” for vomitting with Morning Sickness. (Always consult your physician before trying anything while pregnant!) For the worse cases, there are a few prescriptions that can help. While at my OB visit yesterday, I was shown a brochure on a watch that can be worn on the wrist that releases medication into your system to relieve morning sickness . There are many options. Again, discuss this with your doctor for more information.

Remedies for morning sickness

use breadMorning sickness refers to nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Around 50-80 percent of pregnant women suffer from morning sickness during the period of pregnancy. The occurrence is more during the morning time but can also occur in the daytime. It is most common in the first trimester of pregnancy but sometimes lasts till last trimesters.

My midwives were wonderful at suggesting natural remedies to ease my suffering. The following suggestions for herbs, foods, and lifestyle practices are from my own personal experiences and from a great list of natural remedies to relieve morning sickness. Take one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon honey in cold water before going to bed at night. This is a very effective home remedy for morning sickness.

use teaGinger is well-known for its nausea reducing qualities, and many women have had success with ginger tea for relieving their morning sickness. The herb I found most useful was peppermint. I drank my own blend of herbs for a pregnancy tea (I’ll be posting that recipe soon!), and the peppermint really made me feel better. You can drink the tea cold or hot, depending on what makes you feel better. Fennel seeds also relieve queasiness, whether in tea or simply chewing on the seeds. Slippery Elm is another herb that may calm your stomach.

As you probably know, it very hard to get anything in your mouth when you feel sick. But there is a good reason to try because hunger is one of the main causes of sickness in pregnancy. Being with an empty stomach will not make feel better so I suggest you to eat about 6 small meals a day. By doing it you won’t be hungry and won’t have force yourself eating a big meal. Low blood sugar aggravates the nausea, so you should try to keep a good level throughout the day, staring from the moment you wake up. You can keep some crackers on your night table and eat them before you get up.

For the more common morning sickness, there are a number of safe and effective remedies. Among them are acupressure, herbal medicines, and homeopathy. Acupressure has been shown in a randomized, placebo-controlled study to control nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (Journal of Reproductive Medicine 46:9, September 2001). The point at which to exert the pressure is three of the woman’s finger widths above the transverse crease of the inner wrist, directly between the two tendons felt here (the tendons of Palmaris Longus and flexor Carpi Radialis.) You can apply the pressure for a short period of time with your fingers; a positive effect is usually felt within five minutes.

You can also buy a wrist band to apply continual pressure to this point. It is called a BioBand or a Sea-Band; you can buy BioBands at www.biobands.com, or Sea-Bands at travel stores and some pharmacies. Alternately, you can make your own. Form a wrist band with Elastic, and sew onto it a rounded button. Make sure that when in place, there is firm but not uncomfortable pressure exerted on the point.

Overall: Morning Sickness , while uncomfortable, is very common. It occurs, at least for a brief period of time, in most pregnancies, at one time or another. In most cases, the illness goes away by the end of the first trimester, leaving other wonders of pregnancy to keep you company through the remaining two trimesters. Again, the time span of the illness varies from person to person and pregnancy to pregnancy. I am comforted by the fact that I will be out of the first trimester in 3 more weeks. I can only hope and pray the Morning Sickness leaves at that time. Best wishes to any other expectant parents and always be open and remember to ask questions of your doctor. That’s what he or she is there for!