Does the nausea and vomiting ever stop? For some pregnancies, it might feel like a never-ending visit to your bathroom. Foods don’t stay down, smells turn your face green, and you get the spins from just standing up. Not fun.
For expecting moms who haven’t experienced nausea, picture this:
You and your partner get a night out to yourselves. Finally. Your partner sprung for valet parking. Interesting. You order the most expensive thing on the menu, and followed that with a scoop of chocolate mint ice cream. You decided to treat yourself tonight. #TreatYoSelf
Suddenly, that nausea hits, and your meal gets flushed away. Morning sickness strikes again!
About 70% of women will experience morning sickness in the first four months of pregnancy. Your nausea can range from light and infrequent to extreme in some cases.
If you're pregnant for the first time – you’re more likely to experience morning sickness. Yay…
Your body hasn't experienced pregnancy before, so naturally it's getting prepared for the tidal wave of hormones that are on their way. It’s unfair, but the baby doesn’t play by the rules.
Take heart – it’s probably a good thing you threw up. Well – it sucks to throw up, but it might signify a healthy pregnancy. How? Let’s discuss.
What is morning sickness?
Morning sickness? More like anytime sickness (what a misnomer). Morning sickness is the vomiting and nausea you may experience while pregnant.
Since your sense of smell is so strong during this time – your stomach may churn at certain foods and smells. Even smells you previously loved could turn your nose.
If you’re one of the three in four expecting moms suffering from morning sickness – you know that it can strike any time. But how do you differentiate just one-off nausea and morning sickness?
Some morning sickness symptoms may include (if occurring repeatedly):
- Nausea after eating
- Nausea strong enough to lead to vomiting
- Stronger than normal aversions to smells and foods
- A queasy feeling during your first trimester similar to seasickness or car sickness
What causes morning sickness?
There’s not a single answer for the cause of morning sickness, but many factors could be at play. Some include:
- A strong sense of smell due to your hormones
- Hormones like estrogen and progesterone relax your digestive tract muscles and make it harder to digest
- Having excess saliva in your mouth can cause nausea (queasiness)
- Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) is when stomach acid flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach.
We Recommend: Morning Sickness Sweets
Morning sickness may also be caused by low blood sugar or the rise in your pregnancy hormones such as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) or estrogen. Human chorionic gonadotropin is a hormone produced by the placenta's syncytiotrophoblastic (really a word) cells during pregnancy. You’ll learn more about this later.
Does morning sickness harm your baby?
NOPE! You should, of course, see your doctor if keeping food down becomes a losing battle often. It helps to rule out hyperemesis gravidarum or other sicknesses that could require medical attention.
Hyperemesis gravidarum is persistent, often with extreme nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. A study from 2018 found that there may be a genetic component to experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum. Look no further than our own Amy Suzanne, who experienced HG, as did her mother and sister.
In some cases, Hyperemesis gravidarum may require hospitalization and treatment with intravenous (IV) fluids, medications, and in super rare occasions, a feeding tube. Hyperemesis gravidarum can have extreme symptoms like severe dehydration and losing more than 5% of your pre-pregnancy body weight.Read More: Do I have Morning Sickness or Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
When should you expect morning sickness to start?
You should expect (if you have it at all) morning sickness to start around week six of pregnancy. It’s usually one of the first signs of pregnancy. You may see morning sickness disappear around the start of your second trimester, but every pregnancy is different. Typically at nine weeks, you may have your worst symptoms of morning sickness.
The symptoms may appear gradually or happen to you overnight. Expect the unexpected.
Is morning sickness or nausea a good sign in pregnancy?
Some studies show that women who experience vomiting in their first trimester have a lower risk of miscarriage than women without these symptoms.
Furthermore, the study suggests that morning sickness could indicate a lower risk of miscarriage in pregnant women who have experienced previous losses. The study showed that women who had one or two miscarriages and had morning sickness in their current pregnancy had a 50 - 75% lower risk of having another miscarriage.
How are they connected? That vomiting is caused by a hormone produced by your placenta called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Smaller amounts of hCG are also produced in the pituitary gland, the liver, and the colon. Early in your pregnancy, hCG could cause you to experience light spotting, breast soreness, mood swings, nausea, and bloating.
It’s not all bad with your placenta. hCG is a crucial part of what is measured on your pregnancy tests. hCG is produced after a fertilized egg attaches to your uterine lining. A woman with severe morning sickness like hyperemesis gravidarum has higher hCG levels than other pregnant women.
When you combine the studies, the clear picture is that the association between morning sickness and reduced pregnancy loss is substantial. Three cheers for throwing up!
Should I be concerned if I don’t experience morning sickness during pregnancy?
The lack of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy isn’t anything for you to worry about. While research indicates good things about being a vomiting machine – not throwing up shouldn’t concern you. Between 70 to 80 percent of pregnant women experience morning sickness, which means 20 - 30% never do.
Even if you’ve had nausea in other pregnancies, there’s no indication that it will occur in future ones. Morning sickness can be fickle and random.
Read More: Staying Healthy During Pregnancy
Does morning sickness indicate having a boy or girl?
There are a lot of old wives’ tales on determining the gender of a baby. None are generally accurate, but they sure add a fun spin to finding out what the future holds for your baby. One persistent idea is that you’re experiencing morning sickness – having a girl.
This is based on the belief that hormone levels are higher when you’re carrying a girl.
Unfortunately, you’ll find that science doesn’t support this. There is a study from 2019 that found that carrying a female fetus or multiples was more likely to experience vomiting during pregnancy than a male. The researchers noted that factors like the mother’s age, smoking, or BMI could affect the chances. So, inconclusive. Whomp. Whomp.
For now, you’ll have to stick to an ultrasound or chromosome test to find out, but who knows – maybe there’s a researcher out there on the cusp of a breakthrough.
Morning sickness can feel at times like the worst part of pregnancy. You’ll feel nausea and vomiting early on or, like Amy Suzanne, experience it your entire pregnancy. If you’re struggling with morning sickness – take heart – it could be a good sign of a healthy pregnancy.