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What's Good About Morning Sickness?

Morning sickness is an experience shared by most women who have been pregnant:  it is the mild to severe nausea or queasiness that comes with or without vomiting in the first trimester of pregnancy, often before a woman is even aware of having conceived.  It often occurs in the morning, when HCG levels are usually the highest, but can occur at any time of the day.  It is believed to be caused by rising levels of HCG, but may be exacerbated or triggered by low blood sugar.  It may also be exacerbated by stress, traveling, motion sickness, and certain foods or odors. Common foods or odors which trigger morning sickness include those which may have never bothered you before:  coffee, cigarette smoke, cleaning products, nail polish, gasoline, meat, and in my case, my husband's shaving cream!  Some women can tolerate eating only one type of food and have difficulty tolerating any odors related to cooking.

Skipping meals is the worst thing you can do when you have morning sickness since morning sickness generally occurs on an empty stomach.  Women often have a normal or increased appetite after the wave of nausea or vomiting passes.  Eat frequent, small meals. Some women find that morning nausea and vomiting are set off by brushing their teeth shortly after they wake up. . .or by drinking water afterwards.  Brushing your teeth after breakfast can help prevent this, and is probably better for your teeth (which do need extra care during pregnancy).

Morning sickness may be accompanied by a mild headache, dizziness, or abdominal discomfort.  It is NOT characterized by abdominal pain, cramping, or fever; if these symptoms are present, you should contact your physician. Remember that just because you're pregnant and have nausea and/or vomiting, it's not necessarily due to morning sickness.   You could have the flu, food poisoning, appendicitis or anything else that causes nausea or vomiting in a non-pregnant woman.  In fact, acute appendicitis is the most common non-obstetric surgical condition in pregnancy; gallbladder surgery is second.   The risk of gallstones and other gallbladder problems actually increases in pregnancy as well.

Levels of HCG peak in the 8th - 9th week of pregnancy; generally morning sickness diminishes by the 12th - 14th week of pregnancy and concludes by the 16th week of pregnancy.  For a minority of patients, morning sickness continues daily for nine months with fluctuations in severity.

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 While unpleasant and generally untreatable, there is good news- morning sickness is usually a positive indication that an early pregnancy is progressing just fine. 

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