Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), more commonly known as morning sickness, is absolutely nothing to worry about (apart from the way it makes you feel). As the British medical Journal says “Nausea and vomiting are the commonest symptoms experienced in the first trimester of pregnancy affecting 70-85% of women”. So if you’re feeling nausea during your pregnancy, take heart – you are definitely not alone. This nauseous feeling although more commonly associated with mornings can, as some mothers-to-be will attest, strike at any time of the day.
Morning sickness can be one of the more trying side effects of being pregnant. Feeling sick, nauseous and actually vomiting is not exactly nice to experience at the best of times but put this together with the onset of pregnancy, when you are probably feeling quite tired and emotional, it can be extremely upsetting. On top of this, it will probably occur when no-one else even knows you’re pregnant and so when they don’t make any allowances for sudden feelings of illness, it only makes you feel more upset.
So What Does It All Mean?
Morning sickness usually lasts for the first three months but can last up until the end of the fifth month. The severity of the sickness varies from pregnancy to pregnancy ranging from feeling slightly queasy to actual vomiting but no-one is actually quite sure why.
Some women can sail through their first pregnancy with no flicker of nausea but then experience it in all subsequent pregnancies. There are numerous theories explaining it away but none are actually definite. Some think it could be due to an increase in the hormone progesterone which helps to relax muscles in the uterus and thereby prevents early labour. As a consequence, though, muscles in the stomach and intestines can also be relaxed and this can lead to excess acid production and feelings of nausea.
Other theories include extra sensitivity to odours. The slightest smell can start the sickness feeling and pungent odours can make the nausea worse. Although, having said that, it must be remembered that every pregnancy and woman are different. I am reminded of my friend when she was pregnant and having morning sickness. She, however, could eat the most repugnant smelling food which made my stomach turn but did not make her even bat an eye at it.
Another more medical theory is the increase in human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Basically, this is a hormone produced by the embryo soon after conception which maintains progesterone production and increases the immune tolerance of the pregnancy.
Others maintain that eating vegetable may induce morning sickness. The reasoning behind this is that the natural toxins in vegetables which are produced to ward off insects during growth and which are normally harmless to humans can be dangerous towards embryos. So morning sickness is an evolutionary measure to protect the developing child. There again, if you think about all the studies which show the amount of nutrients both mother and child receive from consuming vegetables during pregnancy and the fact that these type of foods usually ensure higher birth weights and therefore healthier babies – morning sickness or no morning sickness, cutting out vegetables is definitely not the answer.
Incidentally, medical professionals relate that from their experience, women who have morning sickness are more likely to bear twins or triplets (as opposed to a single birth) and are less likely to have miscarriages.
So whatever the actual reason for morning sickness is, the overall standpoint seems to be that it is nature’s way of adapting your body to cope with all the changes that happen when you have a baby. Nausea during pregnancy is not uncommon and hopefully your experience with it won’t be too traumatic.