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Causes of Morning Sickness – What You Need to Know

Morning sickness is one of those unfortunate, but all too common symptoms and discomforts of pregnancy. But what really causes morning sickness?

As soon as you conceive, your body's hormonal production goes into overdrive. Initially, pregnancy hormones are produced by the corpus luteum. Your hormone levels rise, doubling about every day in the first few weeks of pregnancy. As the weeks progress, your placenta begins to develop – eventually it will take over the job of producing hormones and your hormone levels will stabilize. It is these increasing hormones that cause the nausea and vomiting during pregnancy known as morning sickness.

The good news is that women who experience morning sickness may be less likely to miscarry because their hormones are working properly. This doesn’t mean, however, that women who don’t experience morning sickness should worry. Every woman responds to her pregnancy hormones differently. Some experience nausea, but no vomiting. Some women find it difficult to eat, while others find the nausea and vomiting don’t affect their appetite at all. In addition, some women have strong aversions to particular foods or smells, while others seem to be nauseated by just about everything.

But as any pregnant woman can tell you, “morning” sickness is a bit of a misnomer. Nausea and vomiting can and does strike at any time of day during your first trimester. Some women are more prone to nausea and vomiting in the morning when they first wake up and haven’t had anything to eat for several hours. Many of these women find that having a midnight snack or a snack in bed before rising helps with morning nausea. And although foods high in protein may not be appealing, there’s some evidence that eating protein-rich foods can help you minimize symptoms of morning sickness.

For most women, morning sickness ends around week 13 – the beginning of the second trimester, when hormone levels stop rising and begin to level off. Other women experience morning sickness throughout their pregnancies. Women who are carrying multiples tend to have more pronounced morning sickness because their hormone levels are higher overall. In addition, some studies indicate that women who are carrying girls are more likely to have morning sickness than women who are carrying boys.

Although it’s certainly annoying, morning sickness only becomes cause for concern when the pregnant woman becomes dehydrated or loses 10 percent or more of her pre-pregnancy body weight. This condition, known as hyperemesis gravidarum, usually requires medical intervention in the form of intravenous fluids, anti-nausea medications, or both.

If you’re experiencing morning sickness, try taking in frequent protein-based snacks. There are other natural remedies you can try, including ginger and peppermint. Or, if you’re having trouble keeping down all foods and liquids or if the nausea and vomiting interferes with your everyday life, talk with your health care provider. He or she may be able to find a prescription strength anti-nausea medication to help you get through your morning sickness.

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