What I wish I knew about morning sickness before I fell pregnant

Posted in Signs of Pregnancy.

Before settling down to have a family my husband and I decided we needed one last hurrah. So we planned a trip to the United States, and thought while we were there we would throw caution to the wind and start trying for a baby.

What we think we know about morning sickness

Before we left, I let my GP know we were going to try for a baby while we were away. I asked when morning sickness would likely kick in if we did fall pregnant. She said it was unlikely to happen for the six weeks that we were away. And that was assuming we would fall quickly.

Which we did. Very quickly. By our reckoning, it could even have happened on our first night in New York City.

Within two weeks I had started to feel sick.

Listen to Dr David Addenbrooke on Feed Play Love:

What I didn’t know about morning sickness

It’s all in the name really. That ‘morning’ part really needs to change to ‘every-waking-moment’ sickness. I didn’t know you can feel it all day. I didn’t know you can feel that sick and not even throw up. I didn’t know that, for me, small bits of healthy food throughout the day would help.

When you’re on a road trip in the United States, most of the food you eat comes from fast food outlets off the highway. I spent most of the trip moaning on different motel beds, wondering why the carpet smelt so bad (my husband couldn’t smell anything).

I felt completely wretched.

There is an upside to morning sickness

Obstetrician and co-author of 9 Months, The Essential Australian Guide to Pregnancy David Addenbrooke says there is no clear understanding of why we get morning sickness. He suspects it’s a mixture of our baby’s genes and our body’s response to the foreign material growing within it.

But while there seems to be no way of telling if you will get it, there is a positive to feeling so awful.

David says there’s an association with higher levels of the pregnancy hormone Human Chorionic Gonadotropin and morning sickness. The myth that bad morning sickness is a sign that you’re having twins actually has some truth to it.

When he has patients with morning sickness David tells them it’s a good sign. 

“I tell them that their pregnancy hormones are strong and that’s a good sign the placenta is growing well. There’s definitely a proven association with nausea in pregnancy and reduced miscarriage risk.

Morning sickness can affect your mental health

Feeling nauseous all day every day can affect your mood. That sounds like a really obvious statement now, but at the time it didn’t really occur to me. Morning sickness was part of a healthy pregnancy, a minor but normal side effect.

But there is nothing fun about feeling sick every waking minute. Watching TV, lying on the couch. I couldn’t distract myself from it, it hung about me like a wet blanket. And so I started to feel really low. All the time. It was difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel because I didn’t know it would come.

I knew there were women who felt this way for the whole nine months. In fact, there’s even a name for extremely severe pregnancy sickness – hyperemesis gravidarum.

Some ways to mitigate the miasma of nausea

I discovered that Saos were my saviour. Saos, cucumber, carrots. I needed to graze throughout the day because if I ever got hungry, my nausea would get worse. I started bringing several lunch boxes to work, I ate so much I got sick of eating!

David says there’s logic behind eating smaller meals across the day.

“Having small meals frequently will probably put less pressure on those senses in the stomach that initiate the reflex [causing nausea]. That’s usually the advice I give to women if they’re struggling to get nutrition down: have small amounts as often as they can rather than having those big meals.”

I found that being tired also made it worse, so getting plenty of rest was important for me.

Other people swear by ginger – either in drinks or lollies. There is some evidence that Vitamin B6 can help reduce nausea (though not vomiting) for women with morning sickness. There are also drugs that your GP can prescribe if it’s really bad.

I ended up with morning sickness for four months with both my pregnancies. If you’re going through it now – I feel for you. I really do. Morning sickness is the pits.

If you can, talk to someone who understands how bad it can be. It’s amazing how much better you feel just knowing you’re not alone. And cut yourself some slack. Like me, you may have thought that morning sickness was just a minor thing that can happen when you’re pregnant. You know better now. Be kind to yourself, and check out these excellent morning sickness tips from dietitian Melanie McGrice for keeping the nausea at bay.


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