One of the first telltale signs of pregnancy is nausea and vomiting, more commonly known as morning sickness. A 2020 study published in the British Journal of Medicine found that although pregnant women were more likely to experience vomiting in the morning, a significant number of women felt nauseous throughout the day. Unfortunately, morning sickness doesn’t always live up to its name. But it’s good to know that feeling nauseous throughout the day is a typical pregnancy symptom and not usually a concern.
What is Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness is the feeling of nausea women have as the body adjusts to the growing baby and changing hormones. Some women may feel periodically nauseated but remain functional and never experience vomiting. In rare severe cases, however, nausea can last for hours at a time and the vomiting may be frequent.
If the severity last for weeks, the pregnant woman may require IV fluids and nutrients to stay healthy. In these cases, morning sickness is called hyperemesis gravidarum and requires close follow-up by a medical professional.
Is Morning Sickness Normal?
According to the American Pregnancy Association, more than half of all pregnant women go through some degree of morning sickness, usually in the first trimester of pregnancy. Although most cases of morning sickness start before the ninth week of pregnancy and end at about the fourteenth week, some women may experience it for a more extended period. For a small number of women, morning sickness occurs all throughout their pregnancy.
Can Morning Sickness Harm the Baby?
Most cases of morning sickness never cause the baby harm. The National Institute of Health states that morning sickness is a common experience that doesn’t injure the baby unless the mother begins to lose too much weight. If too much weight is lost due to nausea and vomiting, then medical assistance might be necessary.
How to Manage Morning Sickness
Morning sickness may be a part of your pregnancy, but there are some steps you can take to help you feel better. The following are a few tips from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) to help get you through.
1. Take Your Vitamins
Not only are prenatal vitamins essential for providing additional nutrients for you and the baby, but they also help to reduce the chances of morning sickness. Ironically, some women find it hard to swallow or keep prenatal vitamins down if they’re experiencing morning sickness. It may help to consult your healthcare provider for different pill size options or formulations to make your prenatal vitamins more tolerable.
2. Try the BRAT Diet
Bland foods are less likely to induce nausea or vomiting, making them more likely to stay in your stomach. The BRAT diet stands for bland food staples such as Banana, Rice, Applesauce and Toast. These foods are nutrient-rich and less likely to cause morning sickness than other types of food.
3. Eat Some Protein
Incorporating protein into your diet can keep nausea and vomiting at bay. Research from 2010 indicated that first-trimester pregnant women who consumed a diet high in healthy proteins were less likely to develop morning sickness. Non-meat sources of protein, such as nuts, seeds, dairy foods, and protein powders can help prevent or minimize the effects of morning sickness.
4. Consume Mini-Meals
Eating small meals throughout the day keeps your digestive system from becoming overloaded. As tempting as a large and decadent meal might be, you won’t benefit from the food if it causes nausea and vomiting. Small and nutritious meals are more likely to remain in your stomach, providing you with sufficient nutrients and calories in the long run.
5. Avoid Strong Odors
Pregnancy is a great time to ask someone else to take out the trash or go on a short walk while someone else cooks dinner. Strong odors become overpowering with morning sickness. Even light odors you may have liked before pregnancy, such as flowers or perfume, can cause nausea and vomiting. Pay close attention to what scents trigger morning sickness and make an effort to avoid them while you’re pregnant.
When Should I Get Help for My Morning Sickness?
Watch for signs of excessive vomiting and dehydration, like dark colored urine, weight loss, dizziness or feeling faint. If your morning sickness gets in the way of performing your normal daily activities or negatively affects your life, then you should speak to a healthcare professional.
Morning Sickness is Anytime Sickness
It’s important to remember that morning sickness can happen at any time of the day, even right before you go to sleep. It can interrupt your routine and can be frightening at first, but it doesn’t typically harm you or the baby. It’s a normal part of pregnancy, and though it’s a discomfort, it’s usually not a concern.