The Challenge Of Morning Sickness

BlogHer Original Post

Scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder have revealed the results of their research regarding that great scourge of pregnancy:  morning sickness.  MSNBC reports:

Doctors have long known that morning sickness — the nausea and vomiting usually experienced in early pregnancy — is actually a good sign of a healthy pregnancy, despite the discomfort it brings.

"Discomfort"?  I think a more accurate phrase might be "agony", but let's just go with it.  MSNBC goes on to explain that researchers believe morning sickness isn't just a sign of a healthy pregnancy, but it may actually benefit a pregnancy.

Instead, morning sickness is usually triggered in specific circumstances — in response to:

  • the sight, smell, or taste of meats and strong-tasting vegetables, which were historically likely to contain foodborne microbes or birth-defect-inducing chemicals;
  • alcohol and cigarette smoke.

This all suggests morning sickness serves a useful function, evolving to protect mothers and embryos from things that may be dangerous, the researchers figure.


Also, in women who experience morning sickness, symptoms peak precisely when embryonic organ development is most susceptible to chemical disruption, between week six and week 18 of pregnancy.

I have birthed four children and miscarried two, and my own experience provides anecdotal support of this.  My four healthy pregnancies had me wretching like a mad woman, while the miscarriages never produced a single wave of nausea.  And it is true, that there is a warped sense of comfort for a pregnant woman hovered over the toilet seat, knowing that those awful symptoms are, perhaps, a good sign of strong hormones coursing through her body.

But even if it's a healthy indication of a good thing, there's no denying that morning sickness is hard.  Very hard.  My own days of the scourge were, sadly, before my blog-reading days.  That would've been some excellent support, had I been able to sit up late at night (when I was always sickest) hearing how other women are coping.

Susan Wagner shared her own coping skills at Parent Dish:

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I had horrible morning sickness. The only thing that settled my stomach was Tim's Cascade brand salt and vinegar potato chips. I ate them with every meal, three or four after my cereal or my sandwich or my broiled chicken and roasted broccoli. Without the chips -- and only that one flavor and that one brand worked -- I felt like crap all the time.

Mandy King wonders if "pregnancy amnesia" extends to morning sickness:

I’ve heard people say that God gives women amnesia regarding labor/childbirth/sleepless nights, but I think he does it in regard to morning sickness as well. 

But she goes on to talk herself through it as best she can:

As I have said, I will not complain. I won’t allow it. I wanted another baby and now here I am.

Bethany at Wife Like Me learned that morning sickness sometimes forces a woman to reveal her pregnancy sooner than she'd like:

I’m only six weeks along, and it’s “traditional” to wait to tell everyone until you hit 12 weeks or so, but I’m not good at keeping secrets about myself.  Besides, the flu-like symptoms that convinced me to take the pregnancy test in the first place are likely to get much worse in the near future if my history is any indicator, and moving while exhausted and sick and trying to hide it from everyone just takes too much energy.  I’m not much of a trooper when it comes to all-day morning sickness and I’m going to need lots of help!  So, we decided to just get the announcement over with.

My own best coping skill, for anyone who might be reading this from a laptop on the bathroom floor, was weak lemonade.  It sounded good to me, and it seemed to settle my stomach.  Only later did I learn that the scent of lemons is actually a common aromatherapy tool for battling nausea.

I guess it just proves, once again, that a woman's body knows what it's doing.

Shannon Lowe is a BlogHer Contributing Editor (Mommy/Family), and she writes at Rocks In My Dryer.


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