Morning sickness during pregnancy- Causes and risk factors

Morning sickness

Around fifty to seventy-five percent of pregnant women experience morning sickness in their first trimester. The degree and intensity vary from woman to woman but morning sickness usually starts between the 4th and 9th week of pregnancy and clears up by week 16 or 20. In very rare cases, morning sickness comes and goes throughout the entire period.

The term morning sickness is a misnomer and probably comes from the fact that many women show symptoms that are worse during the morning and subside over the day. Morning sickness symptoms include burping, vomiting, nausea and tiredness- some women actually do get sick while others experience a feeling of being sick without actually being sick. And although the condition is a normal part of the journey, it can get quite debilitating for the expecting mother.

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Morning Sickness causes

Nobody knows the exact cause, but hormonal changes in the body probably trigger morning sickness. Some possible causes could be:

1. HCG- It has been found that nausea in pregnant women peaks during the time when the levels of this hormone are high, for instance, when a woman is carrying twins or multiples.

2. Oestrogen hormone- A rise in this hormone during pregnancy is also linked to increased morning sickness feeling.

3. Sensitive gastrointestinal tracts- Some women’s gastrointestinal tracts are by nature more sensitive to hormonal changes and react more. A stomach bacterium called helicobacter pylori may also aggravate nausea.

4. Sensitivity to odors- Pregnant women, during their first trimester, experience a strong sensitivity to various odors that may trigger vomiting and sickness.

5. Stress- Sometimes, nausea and vomiting occur as an abnormal reaction to stress. Stay happy always.

Morning Sickness risk factors

Morning sickness can be a tiring condition and may leave you wondering as to why you suffer more from it when others may not suffer so much. Some women are more prone to severe morning sickness because of risk factors such as:

  • Nausea and vomiting in an earlier pregnancy
  • Genetic predisposition to morning sickness- if your mother or sisters have had it.
  • A history of motion sickness
  • A history of nausea as a reaction to birth control pills
  • A history of migraine attacks
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • First pregnancy
  • If you’re carrying a girl baby

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a severe form of morning sickness when a pregnant woman experiences vomiting and sickness for a prolonged duration, is not able to keep food down and needs intravenous fluids and other treatment amounting to hospitalization. It is a rare condition wherein excessive vomiting leads to severe loss of body fluids, weight loss, and vitamin deficiencies. It can be detected through a urine test and is indicated by the presence of ketones in urine- a sign that the body is breaking down fat for energy, because it no longer gets energy from your food intake, because you’re either throwing up too much or unable to keep any food down.

Does morning sickness affect my baby?

Morning sickness does not usually affect your baby. Even if you’re vomiting and not able to keep much food down, your baby gets nourishment from your body’s reserves though you may sometimes need a prenatal vitamin which your doctor will suggest. Do not worry, if you don’t gain weight in the first trimester- your appetite will return soon and as soon as you’re able to digest and keep food down, you’ll start gaining weight. Only in rare cases of hyperemesis gravidarum, your baby might run the risk of a low birth weight though not all babies born to women with this condition have low weight.

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