Fighting the First Trimester: Dealing with Morning Sickness
Feeling nauseous and throwing up is an unpleasant but common part of early pregnancy. Around 70% to 80% of expectant mothers experience nausea or vomiting, collectively known as morning sickness. Understanding why it happens, when it starts and ends, and how to manage it can help you tackle those tough first few months.
Morning sickness is linked to rising levels of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in the body after conception. Produced by the cells that will become the placenta, hCG is present from the very start of pregnancy. As hCG increases, it triggers nausea and vomiting in most women. Levels typically peak around weeks 9-10, just as morning sickness is at its worst.
For the majority, symptoms start 4-6 weeks after their last period – often one of the first hints of pregnancy. It may strike at any time of day, despite the name. Morning sickness often fades by weeks 14-16, though some unlucky mums deal with it their entire pregnancy.
While irritating, rest assure morning sickness itself doesn’t harm your growing baby. Concerns arise if nausea prevents hydration or nutrition, but your baby needs minimal calories early on. Focus on fluids and bland foods you can keep down. If you can function daily, it’s generally safe. Call your doctor about severe weight loss, cramps or dehydration.
Why Do Only Some Women Get Morning Sickness?
Researchers don’t fully understand why some women escape morning sickness while others suffer severely. Suspected factors include:
- Hormone levels – Women with higher hCG levels tend to have worse nausea. Multiples like twins raise hCG further.
- Genetics -daughters frequently experience the same severity as their mothers. If your mom had bad morning sickness, chances are higher you will too.
- Stress – Some data shows working women and those going through major life events report worse morning sickness.
- Age and BMI – Morning sickness is more common in first pregnancy, young moms and mothers with a lower pre-pregnancy BMI.
- Adult height – Taller women may have lower hCG and less chance of nausea. Shorter women seem to be at higher risk.
- Gut bacteria – There’s early evidence that gut microflora impacts pregnancy hormones and morning sickness severity.
The mystery remains why some women with high hCG don’t suffer while others with average levels do. Morning sickness depends on a complicated mix of physical factors and individual body quirks.
From your kitchen cupboard to your bedside table, simple solutions can ease morning sickness:
- Ginger – Ginger sweets, tea, soda calm many stomachs. Ask your doctor about using ginger supplements.
- Cold drinks – Fizzy water, diluted juices or iced lemon water with mint soothe nausea. The cool temperature also helps.
- Small snacks – Dry crackers, plain cereal or toast are easy to digest when waking. Eat little and often.
- Avoid smells/sights – Cooking odours, perfumes, motions like riding in cars can trigger sickness for some women.
- Sit up after meals – Gravity helps digestion, so stay upright 30-60 minutes after eating.
- Take vitamins before bed – It’s common to throw up morning vitamins. Try taking them before sleep instead.
- Wristbands – Acupressure wristbands relieve motion nausea for some pregnant women.
Ask your doctor about safe over-the-counter or prescription meds as a last resort. Most morning sickness treatments are considered low risk.
No Sickness? Don’t Worry
It sounds backwards, but having morning sickness often means your hormones are rising properly and your pregnancy is progressing well. However, not every woman gets it. A lack of nausea doesn’t indicate a problem – consider yourself lucky!
See Your Doctor If…
- You can’t keep fluids down for 12 hours or food for 24 hours
- You show signs of dehydration like dark urine or dizziness
- You’ve lost over 5% of your pre-pregnancy weight
- You have persistent cramps or pain
- Nausea impacts your daily life significantly
Don’t hesitate to call your doctor sooner if morning sickness concerns you. Chances are they can help you manage symptoms without visiting their office. But don’t suffer through it needlessly either.