Doing Battle With Morning Sickness
Doing Battle with Morning Sickness
Nothing can blast the euphoria of discovering you're pregnant faster than
morning sickness. For Deborah Wood, a mother of three and writer in Evanston,
Ill., certain smells were killers, especially with her first pregnancy. In
fact, opening a refrigerator became an occupational hazard. Just the mention of
tuna -- a food she normally loves -- would make her heave. She even started
carrying plastic grocery bags in her pockets for those times when a mad dash to
the bathroom was impossible.
She's not alone. As many as 90% of all pregnant women experience some degree
of nausea or vomiting during pregnancy, says Dr. Jennifer Niebyl, head of
obstetrics and gynecology at University of Iowa College of Medicine. In most
cases, the symptoms are associated with a perfectly healthy baby, and they
disappear by the fourth month. But some women have the symptoms longer, even
lasting their whole pregnancy.
The trick is finding out what helps, although that's often easier said than
done. Not only is every woman different, but so is each pregnancy. "There
isn't a one-size-fits-all remedy," says Miriam Erick, a registered
dietician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and author of "No More
Morning Sickness: A Survival Guide for Pregnant Women" and "Take Two
Crackers and Call Me in the Morning."
Erick advises a methodical approach. Take note of any smells or tastes that
set you off, and avoid them. Then experiment with foods and drinks that soothe
your symptoms. Be open to what your body's telling you, not what you've heard
works for others. In fact, the old standby -- crackers and ginger ale -- isn't
as effective as potato chips and lemonade for many women, although Erick
doesn't know why.
Show Me a Sign
Doctors still aren't sure exactly what causes morning sickness, but the most
popular theory is that morning sickness is the body's reaction to the pregnancy
hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is produced at higher levels
during the first trimester than at any other time during pregnancy, says Dr.
Niebyl. What they -- and every woman who's had it -- do know is that it
can hit you at any time of day, not just in the morning.
On some level, the nausea can be reassuring -- an early sign that a tiny
human being really is growing inside of you. Carla Laszlo, 29, of Southwick,
Mass., recently found out she was pregnant and a week later started to feel
queasy. "I finally feel like something is happening to me," she says.
"With this being my first pregnancy, I was anxious to 'feel' pregnant.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I'm getting my wish."
Some studies, in fact, have indicated that women with little or no morning
sickness have a higher rate of miscarriage. That's because women who end up
miscarrying typically have lower levels of hCG, says Dr. Niebyl. Another
theory, although widely disputed, is that morning sickness is actually nature's
way of keeping women away from substances that could harm the developing