The science behind morning sickness

According to the American Pregnancy Association, 50% of pregnant women experience nausea or vomiting within the first six weeks of gestation and although there is no single cause of “morning sickness”, doctors and scientists believe it to be the product of many abrupt and substantial changes that occur in the initial stages of pregnancy.

These first weeks are associated with higher hormone levels, higher sensitivity to smells, rising stress levels, and elevated stomach sensitivity all which can contribute to this unpleasant side effect. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, also known as hCG or the pregnancy hormone, is produced first by embryonic cells and later by the placenta when it begins to form. hCG is generally only produced during pregnancy, therefore the sudden and rapid (hCG levels tend to double every 48 hours).

Excretion of this hormone, in conjunction with the rise of other hormones, including estrogen, can cause changes in the body including breast tenderness, mood swings and nausea. These symptoms tend to subside at most at 16 weeks of gestation.

While these symptoms may not be your favorite part of pregnancy, they are completely normal and generally do not impact your baby’s health.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests:

  • Eating Bland Foods. (e.g the “BRATT” diet (bananas, fruit, applesauce, toast, tea)
  • Staying hydrated.
  • Eating smaller portions more frequently throughout the day.
  • Taking multivitamins.

Other alternative options include:

  • Essential Oils for Nausea and Vomiting During Early Pregnancy
  • Peppermint
  • Ginger
  • Coriander
  • Fennel

**All can be ingested, applied topically, or diffused. Dilute oils with fractionated coconut oil when applying directly to the skin. Just make sure you are choosing a brand that is trustworthy because essential oils are not FDA regulated. We recommend doTERRA  to our patients.

  • Eating small ice chips or water based ice pops

How much is too much?

Although nausea and vomiting can often simply be an annoying symptom of pregnancy, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), at least 3% of pregnant women develop hyperemesis gravidarum, or severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy that is diagnosed when a woman loses at least 5% of her pre-pregnancy weight and experiences substantial dehydration. Furthermore, these symptoms tend to last past 16 weeks of gestation. If this occurs, consult with your doctor because treatment is needed to restore lost body fluids and ensure the baby is getting the nutrients it needs.