What is morning sickness?
Morning sickness is a condition that plagues up to 85% of all pregnant women. Mainly a feature of early pregnancy, morning sickness can begin around the fourth week of pregnancy and continue until around 12 weeks when it begins to resolve itself. For an unlucky minority, morning sickness can continue well into the second trimester and in rare circumstances, some pregnant women suffer morning sickness for the entire duration of their pregnancy.
As its name implies, morning sickness often strikes first thing in the morning but it isn’t unusual for sufferers to experience bouts of morning sickness at any time of the day or night.
- Hyperemesis Gravidarum – when morning sickness becomes a chronic illness
What are the symptoms of morning sickness?
- Loss of appetite
- Psychological effects such as anxiety and depression.
In times gone past, morning sickness has been attributed to hysteria by women who suffered from morning sickness, assuming they were just stressed, anxious or depressed, however this is a myth. Morning sickness is a real condition and is not psychosomatic or a sign of weakness. Morning sickness can be debilitating and have a huge impact of a mum-to-be’s quality of life. Morning sickness can prevent you from working, caring for other children or carrying on the normal routines of life.
For some women, morning sickness may be the first time they have experienced an extended period of sickness and not knowing how to cope with it can make a difficult situation worse. Being unwell for any length of time can lead to feelings of frustration, hopelessness and depression, particularly if there does not appear to be any end to the symptoms. Morning sickness sufferers often also become anxious about how their morning sickness may be affecting their baby.
What causes morning sickness?
Despite research into the causes of morning sickness, medical experts are still unable to definitvely explain what causes the condition. It does appear, though, that it is caused by a combination of factors, and these include:
- Hormonal changes that lead to high hormone levels, particularly oestrogen
- Fluctuation in blood pressure, particularly low blood pressure
- Low blood sugar
- Low levels of vitamin B6
- Physical and chemical changes in the body
- Altered metabolism of carbohydrates