Whether you're feeling a little queasy or have your head permanently down the loo, morning sickness isn't Mother Nature's finest moment. Here's our guide to help you through it
Congratulations on your pregnancy! We wish you a healthy, trouble-free nine months, but we know some of you might be experiencing morning sickness. Read our guide to what causes it, how to cope with it and how long it lasts, so you can make the most of this magical time.
What is morning sickness?
While there are many different theories about the exact cause of morning sickness, the most popular is that the culprit is a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). It's the same hormone that your home pregnancy test looks for to identify a pregnancy because it's produced by the body only after conception. It's thought that because the body isn't used to this hormone, it causes nausea and sickness until the hormone starts to tail off after the first trimester.
Whatever the cause, it's extremely common. It's thought that around 90% of women suffer from feelings of nausea in the first trimester and around 33% are actually sick.
Although many women find the feeling of sickness may be at its worst first thing in the morning, the term 'morning sickness' doesn't always ring true. Some find themselves feeling (or being) sick throughout the day. It may even continue through the night, too. In rare instances, some women have an extreme version of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum and may require hospital treatment for dehydration.
When does morning sickness start?
The levels of the hCG hormone are recognisable after about four weeks of pregnancy (although some tests pick it up earlier), so that's when most women start to feel its effects.
How long does morning sickness last?
After week four, the levels of hCG continue doubling up until about 12 weeks, when the concentration of the hormone peaks and then begins to tail off. Many women find they start to feel better after this time.
What helps morning sickness?
There's plenty of advice and lots of tips on how to manage morning sickness. It's a case of finding what works best for you, as every pregnancy is different. Some mums-to-be find ginger is helpful be-cause it contains anti-nausea properties. Try eating ginger biscuits or drinking ginger tea or ginger ale. A drop in blood sugar can also make expectant mums feel queasy, so try to eat little and often – every two hours is a good guide. Acupressure bands used for sea sickness can be helpful. They put gentle pressure on a defined area of the wrist to help counteract the nausea with no side effects.
The most important thing to remember about morning sickness is that it is temporary. Once your baby is born, it will be just an unpleasant memory. In the meantime, don't suffer in silence. Ask your GP, pharmacist or midwife for help and advice.
By Anna Penniceard