There’s so much about pregnancy that’s beautiful and magical. Your body is doing the miraculous work of growing a whole new person, built from you and your partner’s genetic makeup. Your body is working hard 24/7 and knows exactly what to do.
At the same time, pregnancy can be pretty uncomfortable for many women, especially when it comes to the infamous “morning sickness.”
What Is Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness is nausea that tends to be most severe in the first trimester (the first three months) of pregnancy. It occurs in 70% of pregnancies and many women describe it as car sickness or ongoing butterflies in the tummy. It’s typically experienced first thing in the morning, immediately after eating, or because of strong smells or food aversions. Other symptoms may include hunger pangs or vomiting. It’s also accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea.
While it’s called morning sickness, it can occur any time during the day and is often seen to indicate a healthy pregnancy. Even though morning sickness is pretty uncomfortable for the mom-to-be, it doesn’t harm the baby in any way.
But there’s good news—the nausea tends to ease by your second trimester but sometimes lasts until the final three months of pregnancy.
What Causes Nausea in Pregnancy?
Morning sickness is common but not fully understood. It’s thought to be linked to the production of the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone known as the pregnancy hormone and this hormone is produced in the body once a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. Low blood sugars and acid reflux are also common causes of nausea in pregnancy.
Stress can also lead to morning sickness or having a sensitive stomach even before pregnancy. These varying factors mean it can be hard to pinpoint the exact cause of morning sickness, there are some simple ways you can try alleviating it before considering nausea medicine.
How Can You Alleviate Morning Sickness?
There are a few easy ways to try easing pregnancy nausea; as with all home remedies, chat with your doctor before starting a new regime or health practice! We recommend:
- Eating foods that are low in fat and easy to digest, like cereal, rice, and bananas; avoid fatty and spicy foods
- Eat smaller meals more often as opposed to 3 large meals daily
- Eat a handful of crackers as soon as you wake up to help settle your stomach
- Avoid strong odors whenever possible since they may trigger nausea (If you notice a smell your tummy doesn’t like, avoid it as much as possible moving forward)
- Drink lots of water
- A vitamin B6 supplement
- Eat healthy, high protein snacks between meals to prevent nausea triggered by your stomach being empty for too long
- Ginger ale, tea or candies
- Take a prenatal vitamin before you get pregnant
When To See A Doctor
Some vomiting is normal, but sometimes, morning sickness grows more intense and physically unbearable. If any of the following things happen, schedule a visit with your doctor right away:
- Your nausea makes you tired or confused
- Your heart starts racing
- You can’t keep fluids down
- Your vomit is brown or has blood in it (if so, this is especially a medical emergency and you should see a professional immediately)
- Vomiting continues into your second trimester
- You’re urinating significantly less or not at all
- You lost more than 2lbs to vomiting
What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)?
Hyperemesis is known as severe morning sickness and affects about 1% of pregnant women. It often manifests as constant and severe nausea, not being able to eat or drink anything without vomiting, excess saliva in the mouth, and losing 5% or more of pre-pregnancy body weight. This condition is severe and is highly disruptive to a person’s life. In fact, most women with HG are hospitalized to ensure they remain properly hydrated and nourished since they can't properly digest anything they eat.
The exact cause of this condition is unknown but is more common if a woman has type 1 diabetes, high blood pressure, is expecting a girl, pregnant with multiple babies. Many women with hyperemesis are also expecting their first baby.
Because of the severe nature of HG, we recommend seeking your doctor for a diagnosis and medical support since home remedies are often insufficient to alleviate the discomfort.
No Morning Sickness
While morning sickness is common, not every woman will get it! If you never or rarely have morning sickness but have confirmed your pregnancy with an ultrasound, rest assured that you are indeed pregnant. Consider yourself lucky if you don’t have morning sickness at the beginning, but remember, nausea can kick in in the second or third trimester so keep your fingers crossed you never get sick.
As with all things, every woman is different so we encourage you to keep focusing on your unique pregnancy! Other women are likely to have slightly different experiences compared to yours, so keep in touch with your doctor to ensure you and your baby are healthy despite your symptoms.
If you’d like to talk through your pregnancy symptoms with a medical professional, we’d love to see you! We have a virtual clinic and nurse practitioners on staff to help answer your pregnancy and parenting questions. Click the button below to book an appointment today!