Not all pregnancies are easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy; in fact, a lot of them are straight-up difficult.
From constantly needing to pee to random cravings and swollen feet, being pregnant can affect people in a number of different ways, and, unfortunately, morning sickness is a harsh reality for most prospective mothers.
But, is morning sickness good?
It might be hard to believe when you're sitting on the bathroom floor, unable to wander too far from the toilet for fear of being sick but frequent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy may be a good thing.
It's not as simple as the old wives' tale would suggest, but it turns out morning sickness can be an early indicator of a healthy pregnancy. This information could help provide some comfort while you're chucking up your breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner.
Before we dive into the benefits of morning sickness, let's talk a little more about what it actually is and some of the causes of pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting.
What is morning sickness?
When people experience nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, this is called morning sickness.
But, as anyone who has ever grown a baby knows, morning sickness often doesn't just occur in the morning. Instead, this pregnancy symptom can actually rear its ugly head at any time of day.
This is why a term like 'pregnancy sickness' would be a more accurate name.
Morning sickness typically begins in early pregnancy, starting around the six-week mark and often lasts until the second trimester.
But, not all pregnancies work this way, with some people experiencing sickness right up until their delivery, while others don't experience morning sickness at all.
Why do pregnant people get morning sickness?
Although around 80 per cent of pregnant people experience morning sickness, the exact cause of this is not known.
However, there are many factors that cause some people to experience this condition while they're pregnant. One of these common causes could be low blood sugar or hormonal changes.
The increase of hormone levels such as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) or estrogen is all thought to be linked to nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
Certain things such as stress, tiredness, spicy or fatty foods, or motion sickness can also cause pregnant people to feel sick.
Is morning sickness harmful to the baby?
Mild morning sickness is very common and does not harm mum or the baby. It is only dangerous in extreme cases.
Severe morning sickness affects about one in 100 people and is called hyperemesis gravidarum. This condition causes extreme nausea and vomiting during pregnancy and lasts more than a few days.
In fact, some people can experience it for the duration of their pregnancy, which can result in dehydration and weight loss, which isn't good for the parent or unborn baby.
For some people, hyperemesis gravidarum can require hospitalisation to replenish the foods you're losing through an IV drip.
You might be at a higher risk for severe morning sickness if;
- This is your first pregnancy
- You are pregnant with twins or multiple babies
- You are expecting a girl
- You have a health condition such as trophoblastic disease, a condition that leads to abnormal cell growth in the uterus (womb)
- You suffer from migraines or motion sickness
- If you or a family member had severe motion sickness in a previous pregnancy.
Symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum include:
- Vomiting more than three to four times per day.
- Vomiting that results in dizziness or lightheadedness
- Becoming dehydrated from vomiting; symptoms of dehydration are excessive thirst, dry mouth, increased heartbeat or producing little to no urine
- Losing more than four or five kilos during pregnancy.
If you think you might be experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum, we recommend discussing this with your healthcare professional who will be able to a treatment plan for you based on your symptoms and the severity of these.
Is morning sickness a good sign?
As unpleasant as it might be, morning sickness can actually be a good sign for pregnant women.
Multiple studies have shown nausea and vomiting in the first trimester of pregnancy to be linked to a reduced risk of miscarriage, especially for people who have previously suffered pregnancy loss.
In fact, a study from 2016 found that women who had already experienced a miscarriage were 50 to 75 per cent less likely to miscarry again if they experience morning sickness during their current pregnancy. It has also been thought to decrease the risk of preterm labour.
These symptoms can also indicate that your body is experiencing the rise in pregnancy hormones required to support foetal development; however, this link is not consistent enough to be confirmed.
Morning sickness has also been found to be an indicator of healthy placenta tissue. So, if there is a silver lining to feeling unwell and sticking to a diet of dry toast to curb your nausea, this could be it.
Although morning sickness can indicate a healthy pregnancy, you shouldn't be concerned if you are not experiencing it. Not all pregnant people will experience morning sickness and for those who miss the nausea and vomiting element, this isn't a cause for concern.
If you do have any questions about this, be sure to speak with your doctor.
Can morning sickness be helped?
Although it might indicate some positive things about your pregnancy, morning sickness itself is often not considered to be a positive experience.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can ease nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
Some of the easiest ways to relieve morning sickness are:
- Eat bland foods such as plain toast or crackers
- Avoid large meals; instead, eat smaller meals throughout the day and have small snacks throughout the day
- Avoid spicy and fatty foods
- Stay hydrated
- Take your prenatal vitamins with a snack
- Avoid nausea triggers such as strong odours and flickering lights
- Make tea with grated ginger, mint leaves and/or fresh lemon
- Get plenty of rest
- Keep rooms well ventilated and get plenty of fresh air
- Smell fresh-smelling, pleasant scents such as lemon, orange, or mint.
If you are experiencing severe morning sickness, you may want to speak to your doctor. Expert advice can help you get the proper treatment.
Some of these treatments might include:
- Acupressure bands
- Anti-nausea medication.
Does morning sickness mean you'll have a smarter baby?
While morning sickness can indicate a number of things, it doesn't automatically mean you're cooking up the next Einstein. But, somewhat surprisingly, there is some merit to this myth.
A small study from 2009 found a link between a mother's morning sickness and their child's IQ later in life. The research, which looked at 121 mothers, did show a link between the levels of morning sickness and the IQ of their children.
According to the results, the children of those who experienced morning sickness scored higher in all areas of IQ tests, including verbal fluency, phonological processing and numerical memory. These results also increased with the mother's morning sickness severity.
While there is currently no explanation of why this might be, and taking into consideration the small size of this study, there is no confirmation of this phenomenon but it is an interesting myth nonetheless.
We know pregnancy can be a little overwhelming — but it doesn’t have to be. Kin's Pregnancy Checklist consists of bite-sized checklist items personalised to your pregnancy journey. Approved by fertility specialists and OBYGN approved, you'll feel prepared to tackle each day as it comes and enjoy the process, rather than get lost in it.