Why do pregnant women experience morning sickness? – Scottsdale fertility clinic
Our patients are overjoyed when they first see that positive pregnancy test. After months or years of struggling with fertility, their dream of becoming parents is finally turning into reality. Most people are excited to begin this journey.
However, there are also common discomforts that women often experience during early pregnancy. We want our patients to feel as comfortable as possible during this journey, and we feel that it’s important to be educated so that you can take good care of yourself. One very common symptom is nausea, and sometimes also vomiting, during the first trimester. This is known as “morning sickness,” although it doesn’t necessarily happen only in the morning – it may happen throughout the day.
Why do pregnant women experience morning sickness? Is it a good sign or a bad sign? Is there anything a pregnant mom can do to feel better?
Why does morning sickness happen?
About two thirds of all pregnant women report having morning sickness, most commonly between the sixth and twelfth weeks of pregnancy. It’s believed to be related to the hormonal shifts that are happening during this time, including rapid rises in estrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). In addition, pregnancy-related changes to the digestive system may also contribute.
Although it can certainly be unpleasant, morning sickness may actually be a good thing. Many obstetricians consider the presence of morning sickness to be a sign that the pregnancy is healthy. (This doesn’t mean that if you’re among those women who never experience it, that your baby is unhealthy. Sometimes, morning sickness doesn’t occur in a normal healthy pregnancy.) If you have morning sickness, shifting your thinking to see it as a healthy and normal symptom may be helpful.
Scientists believe that morning sickness helps to protect a developing embryo from disruption by toxins or infections. During the period when morning sickness is most common, the embryo’s organ systems are forming, and this process is particularly sensitive to interference by even small amounts of certain chemicals. Some of the foods that can trigger intense nausea include strong-tasting vegetables and beverages (which may contain small amounts of chemicals that can interfere with development – these often taste bitter) and meat (which has historically had a higher likelihood of containing bacteria that could cause an infection). By causing a pregnant woman to feel nausea when she tastes or smells these foods, morning sickness leads her to stick with bland, safe foods during early pregnancy.
Is morning sickness ever unsafe?
Most pregnant women are still able to eat and drink enough to fulfill their nutritional and fluid needs, even with morning sickness. However, for a small percentage, the nausea and vomiting is more severe. This is called hyperemesis gravidarum. It may lead a pregnant woman to become dehydrated and to lose (rather than gain) weight. In these cases, the nausea needs medical treatment. A developing baby needs adequate fluid and energy (calories), so it’s important to ensure that the mother can get these.
What can a woman do about morning sickness?
Although morning sickness has a purpose and can be a positive sign, it is still unpleasant. Many women would like to feel less nausea during the first trimester. There are a few ways that you can feel better.
- Nausea is often worse when you’re hungry. Eating small snacks or meals throughout the day, rather than eating a lot all at once, can be helpful. This also allows you to get your nutrition in when you’re able to keep it down. Similarly, try to sip on fluids throughout the day, so you ensure that you stay hydrated.
- Many women find it helpful to keep some crackers or another simple snack next to the bed. When you first wake up, eat a little before you even get up. Often, this will help to calm the stomach and reduce the nausea you may feel in the morning.
- Some women find that eating ginger or drinking ginger tea helps to reduce their nausea. Some also find that the smell or taste of lemon is helpful in calming the stomach.
- Make sure that you’re getting plenty of rest. When you’re tired or stressed, you’re more likely to feel nausea. Women in the first trimester of pregnancy need a lot more rest than others, so take as much as you can off your plate and give yourself lots of time for rest and sleep. Taking naps, even short ones, can make a big difference.
Scottsdale fertility clinic
At our fertility clinic, located in Tucson and serving patients from Scottsdale, Phoenix, and surrounding areas, we love to see the excitement on a woman’s face when she finds out that she’s going to be a mother. Nearly all parents would agree that the discomforts of pregnancy are entirely worth it to experience the unparalleled joy of having a child.
If you’re looking for help on your fertility journey, we would love to meet you. Reproductive Health Centers is an award-winning fertility clinic, offering holistic care to our patients at every stage of the fertility process. We also offer free second opinions to give peace of mind to those who want to be sure about their choices. Please contact us to schedule a consultation.