Most girls grow up dreaming of the day they will have children of their own, and when that time comes, the news that they are pregnant is joyful. The experience of being pregnant, on the other hand, can be considerably less than joyful at certain moments. For the 70 to 80 percent of women who suffer the nausea during pregnancy and/or vomiting of morning sickness, being pregnant can also be quite uncomfortable.
The exact cause of morning sickness hasn’t been identified, and there may be a number of factors that contribute to the symptoms—which is not surprising considering how many things are happening and changing within the expectant mother’s body during these nine months. Most of the blame for morning sickness is placed upon a variety of hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy.
Estrogen is the most familiar of the hormones involved. Of course all women have estrogen, which fluctuates constantly throughout the monthly menstrual cycle. It’s not uncommon for women to experience symptoms rather like morning sickness around the time of their monthly period. So the fact that estrogen increases dramatically in the body of a pregnant woman suggests that it is very likely one of the contributing causes of morning sickness. Progesterone levels also rise during pregnancy and have a muscle relaxant effect that is functional for the pregnant uterus, but may also extend to the stomach and digestive tract, contributing to a tendency for acid to build up. This can lead to acid reflux and nausea.
The third kind of hormone that may lie behind morning sickness is less familiar: human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). HCG is only present during pregnancy; it is actually produced by the embryo and placenta and then released into the mother’s body. (This is the substance that pregnancy tests are looking for as a sure sign that conception has occurred.) HCG is linked to immune system development in mother and embryo, and stimulates increased production of progesterone that strengthens the mother’s uterus for carrying and nourishing the growing fetus.
Another target of speculation has been vitamin deficiency. Some women have found that supplemental doses of vitamin B6 seem to bring some relief from nausea, but the reason is not understood. The fact that it helps suggests that there may be a deficiency or increased need for B6 during pregnancy, but so far research has not supported this theory, since vitamin B6 levels appear to be effectively the same in women with and without morning sickness. Women who use multivitamins before and during the start of their pregnancy may also be less likely to have the symptoms of morning sickness.
Aside from hormone and vitamin levels, the pregnant woman’s body experiences a number of other changes that are likely to contribute to if not cause morning sickness. Many women experience a heightened awareness of and reaction to odors, which can evoke nausea and gagging. It’s not clear whether this is just another effect of the increased estrogen in the body. A woman with a naturally volatile digestive system might well respond to the internal chemical and physical changes due to pregnancy with an increase in those symptoms. And stress alone may play a part in causing and then reinforcing the nausea/vomiting syndrome.
Fortunately, there are many safe and fairly simple ways of treating morning sickness that can minimize its impact. And in most (though not all) cases the problem tends to disappear after the first trimester, as hormonal changes begin to stabilize. With luck and a few precautions, for most women their pregnancy can then return to being the joyous experience they anticipated.
And if you are looking to discover how to eliminate morning sickness, then it is time to go grab your copy of "What Every Pregnant Woman Must Know: Alleviating Morning Sickness." here: Nausea During Pregnancy – you will be glad you did!
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