The term "morning sickness" is used to describe the symptoms of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. If you are are spending most mornings in the bathroom feeling queasy, you are not alone. As many as 90% of all pregnant women experience some nausea, while one-third actually vomit due to this condition. It usually begins 4- 6 weeks after conception and continues until the 14th - 16th week of gestation.
The exact cause of morning sickness is unknown, but several theories exist. Most experts believe it's triggered by hormonal changes, especially the increase of hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin). High levels of this pregnancy hormone are thought to overstimulate the part of the brain that controls nausea and vomiting. Gallbladder disease, hyperactive thyroid, molar pregnancy, or carrying more than one baby may also cause morning sickness.
Other possible culprits include the physical symptoms of pregnancy: an enhanced sense of smell, stretching of the uterine muscles, displacement of the digestive organs, and excess acid in the stomach. Emotional stress and a high-fat diet may also play a part.
As the name suggests, most women experience morning sickness in the early hours of the day, but it can occur at any time. For some women, it lasts all day. It generally consists of nausea and vomiting, but may also include dizziness and headaches.
There are no drugs currently approved by the FDA for the treatment of morning sickness, although several medications can help. First, there are several dietary, lifestyle, and alternative-medicine approaches that may help. If you’re not getting better, see your health care provider – waiting until you are completely miserable can make your symptoms harder to treat.
Contact your health care provider if:
Medicines your health care provider may recommend:
(For information on severe, persistent vomiting during pregnancy see hyperemesis gravidarum.)
Q: I am now in my second trimester. Why hasn't my morning sickness stopped?
A: Some women experience morning sickness during their entire pregnancy. This happens most often for women carrying more than one baby. If you're still having morning sickness, make sure you inform your health care provider to rule out other possible complications.
Q: Is the morning sickness hurting my baby in any way?
A: Luckily, no. In fact, some medical professionals believe that morning sickness is actually a sign that all is well with you and your baby. Multiple studies have shown that women with morning sickness have fewer miscarriages and better-grown babies than those who don’t have nausea. Your symptoms probably show that the placenta is making all the right hormones for your developing baby.
Q: I had horrible morning sickness with my first child. Am I destined to have it again with my second?
A: According to ACOG, about two-thirds of women who have severe morning sickness have bad symptoms again with their next pregnancy, but one-third do much better the second time. If you’ve had bad morning sickness before, make sure you’re taking prenatal vitamins before you get pregnant again. That seems to reduce the risk of bad nausea and vomiting.
Reviewed By: Irina Burd, MD, PhD, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.