Learning you’re pregnant is a moment of pure joy – but when that’s followed by early morning sickness it feels all too fleeting. Morning sickness usually lasts around 16 weeks, until the placenta has finished developing – but what are the symptoms of morning sickness?
One of the most famous signs is the way it makes your stomach churn at the smell of fresh-cooked meal, but today we’re going to look at 5 different morning sickness symptoms you might experience.
What causes morning sickness?
Scientists are not yet sure exactly what causes morning sickness, but there are a number of different theories. One explanation suggests that it’s the body’s reaction to the sudden surge in the levels of hCG hormone (human chorionic gonadotropin), which the body starts secreting at the start of pregnancy. Although it hasn’t been shown conclusively, this is believed to stimulate a part of the of the brain called the area postrema, which controls vomiting.
Another theory suggests that the sudden physical changes of pregnancy throw the autonomic nervous system off-balance, overworking the parasympathetic nervous system and causing a condition called “dysautonomia”.
Still other explanations suggest that morning sickness is the body’s way of telling mothers to rest and not work too hard, or to avoid absorbing the toxins in certain foods, or even a sign the body has mistaken the developing baby for a foreign object and is mounting an allergic response. However, no matter what the cause is, morning sickness itself is a natural part of pregnancy – not a disease.
Symptoms of Morning Sickness and Early Pregnancy
Feeling sick and nauseated when you wake up is the usual red-flag for morning sickness, but there can also be many other possible symptoms of early pregnancy. These can be divided into 5 different “types” of morning sickness. There’s more to morning sickness early pregnancy than just nausea, and each pregnancy is different, so see if you can spot your type of experience listed here.
1. “Classic” morning sickness
Whether you’ve eaten or not, you’re constantly nauseated and feel like throwing up. This is probably the most typical image of morning sickness (though unfortunately, it can occur at any time of day).
In serious cases, this means you can’t keep anything down at all, and even liquids are enough to make you vomit. If repeated vomiting continues, this can result in malnutrition and dehydration. In some cases, hospital treatment may be required.
2. Nausea on an empty stomach
Your morning sickness symptoms are worse when you haven’t eaten. You feel sick if you eat too much, but if you don’t eat anything, your churning stomach and heartburn .
3. Hypersensitivity to smell
You have a heightened sense of smell in early pregnancy, and more smells are noxious to you. It’s not just rotting odors like garbage that can set this off, though: many pregnant moms find their stomachs turning at ambient smells that wouldn’t ordinarily bother them, like cigarettes, food, and natural body odors.
4. Sleepiness and fatigue
You feel yourself getting sleepy more often than before you became pregnant. You’re sluggish and sleepy when you’re awake, and you may feel sudden bursts of drowsiness sneak up on you out of nowhere. While nausea and vomiting might be more well known, this kind of fatigue is another common symptom in early pregnancy.
5. Excessive salivation
Excessive salivation is another symptom associated with early pregnancy. While some women don’t have a problem with this, others find they have so much extra saliva in their mouth it’s hard to keep it all in. If your excess salivation isn’t too bad, you can work around it with chewing gum or sucking on a hard candy. However, it may be too unpleasant to keep on swallowing it down if there is too much.
Symptoms of morning sickness vary from person to person
We’ve covered a number of the main symptoms you may notice during early pregnancy, but there are other changes you may notice as well. For example, a lot of pregnant moms are surprised by how much their food preferences change during morning sickness. You might suddenly been unable to eat a food you’ve always enjoyed, or only want to eat one particular dish.
Other physical symptoms can include headaches, stiff shoulders, feeling of blocked ears, respiratory problems, and a sore or scratchy throat. Aside from this, some moms also notice psychological symptoms such irritability, anxiety, or feeling blue.
The symptoms and severity of morning sickness vary from person to person, and so do the ways of dealing with them. The best thing is to start by identifying your particular symptom profile, and find what works best for you.