Morning sickness – is it a good thing?

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Morning sickness is one of the most feared side effects that comes with being pregnant. The feeling of nausea and vomiting can be miserable, but you aren’t alone. Morning sickness is very common and affects the majority of pregnant women, especially in their first trimester. Approximately 50 to 80 percent of pregnant women will experience nausea, and about 50 percent will experience vomiting with their pregnancy.

Why does morning sickness happen?

There is no exact reason as to why women experience morning sickness. It’s most likely due to the rise in two hormones during pregnancy: human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and estrogen. Human chorionic gonadotropin is secreted by the placenta, which nourishes the egg after it’s been fertilized. This secretion peaks in early pregnancy when symptoms are typically at their worst. Estrogen levels increase throughout pregnancy, but the largest jump in levels can be seen in the first trimester. It plays a key role in helping the fetus grow and mature.

Is morning sickness a good or bad thing?

Having morning sickness, or not, doesn’t specifically mean anything good or bad about a pregnancy. Studies have shown a lower rate of miscarriage in women with mild or moderate morning sickness. This likely reflects healthy hCG production.

If you’re not experiencing morning sickness, this doesn’t mean you have an unhealthy pregnancy. If you have questions or concerns regarding your morning sickness, you should contact your doctor.

Is it bad to still be experiencing morning sickness beyond the first trimester?

Morning sickness typically resolves after the first trimester, as this is when hCG peaks. Some women may still experience nausea and vomiting after the first trimester. In this case, I recommend speaking with your doctor, as other conditions may be playing a role in your symptoms, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is common in the second and third trimesters due to increased pressure on your stomach. This may require medication for symptom management.

Does having hyperemesis gravidarum mean anything about the health of your baby?

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe form of morning sickness that often requires hospital evaluation and administration of IV fluids to maintain hydration during pregnancy. This is more common in certain pregnancies, including twin pregnancies. While some studies have shown higher rates of low birth weight and premature infants in pregnancies affected by hyperemesis gravidarum, this illness doesn’t typically affect the health of your baby, as pregnancies are very resilient.

Megan Quimper is an OB-GYN at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

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