Ah, the joys of pregnancy. Baby name books, cute maternity clothes, and feeling like you’re about to hurl your lunch all over your boss during your presentation. While the exact cause of morning sickness is unknown, experts believe hormonal changes play a role. It correlates with levels of human chorionic gonadotropin and the size of the placenta.1 But even in 2022, with all of our technology, there’s no crystal ball to indicate whether morning sickness will strike, but there are some who can expect to stock up on saltines and ginger ale.
Some top candidates for morning sickness include anyone who gets nauseous or vomits from motion sickness, suffers from migraines, or feels sick when taking contraceptives with estrogen (like in birth control pills, for example) before pregnancy. Those who had morning sickness during a previous pregnancy may also be more likely to experience it again. And if you’re expecting multiples? Congratulations, you’ll likely experience morning sickness, too, thanks to all the extra hormones your body produces.2 Whether you are predisposed or not, what should you believe and be weary of when it comes to morning sickness myths? Read on for a breakdown of six morning sickness myths to stop believing to start enjoying your pregnancy a little more.
Morning Sickness Myths and Facts
1. Morning Sickness Only Happens in the Morning
Unfortunately, nausea and vomiting know no bounds when it comes to the time of the day women experience this unpleasant side effect of pregnancy. As I experienced, it could strike at any time in the day and often come on unexpectedly and without warning.
More than 70% of women report experiencing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, with 80% reporting that their symptoms last all day. On the other hand, only 1.8% report symptoms that occur just in the morning.3
2. Morning Sickness Will Last a Few Months, and Then You’ll Glow
This sounds lovely in theory, but the truth is the frequency or duration of morning sickness can be unpredictable. And that glow that’s caused by increased hormone levels and blood flow? It can be possible for some but elusive for others. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pregnancy nausea and vomiting usually start before nine weeks. For most women, it goes away by week 14. For some, though, it lasts for several weeks or months. But for others, it lasts throughout the entire pregnancy.4 I experienced nausea throughout my first trimester but no vomiting, while my sister struggled with vomiting throughout her entire pregnancy. The reality is everyone has an entirely different experience.
Because it is not limited to a particular time of day, many medical professionals now typically refer to the condition as “NVP,” which stands for “nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.”
3. Every Pregnant Woman Experiences Morning Sickness at Some Point
This is not necessarily true! This myth perpetuates some fear among expectant moms who don’t experience morning sickness. Bottom line? Each pregnancy is unique. You should celebrate being one of the lucky ones who can skip the frequent sprints to the bathroom and hope the universe doesn’t have a sick sense of humor regarding your baby’s future sleep schedule. While most women experience morning sickness—more than 70%, with half experiencing vomiting alone—it’s simply not a given.3
4. Morning Sickness Means You’re Having a Girl
With the rise of gender reveal parties and no shortage of old wives’ tales for predicting gender, one of the reasons sex prediction myths persist is probably because sometimes they can appear correct.
When you’ve got 50/50 odds, predictions are bound to come true half the time. The morning sickness-means-you’re-having-a-girl myth has been around for decades, but the truth is, boy moms also experience nausea and vomiting too—I’m proof!
The medical field remains a little mixed on the severity of symptoms based on gender. While a medical study published in 1999 supported the idea that women carrying female fetuses had more severe morning sickness, a 2013 study of 2,450 births suggested a slightly higher rate of nausea and vomiting among women carrying boys compared with those carrying girls.5,6
Translation? Don’t plan your nursery theme and colors around how nauseous you feel throughout your pregnancy!
5. No Morning Sickness Means You’re Having an Unhealthy Pregnancy
Morning sickness is a common pregnancy symptom and can be a good sign because it shows a rise in the necessary hormones needed for a healthy pregnancy. However, a lack of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy isn’t a cause for concern, and high hormone levels aren’t consistently associated with nausea and vomiting.9
It is important to remember that there is no such thing as normal pregnancy, and pregnant women who have not been experiencing any nausea or vomiting mustn’t worry.
6. You Can’t Relieve Morning Sickness, So Just Ride It Out
Previous generations might believe it’s a part of pregnancy and suggest expectant moms grin and bear it. But some options can provide some relief, even if it requires a bit of trial and error to learn what works best for you.
Eating small meals throughout the day to avoid getting too full or too hungry can be a helpful tactic because progesterone slows the speed of food passing through your digestive tract. To further prevent your stomach from getting too full or too empty, the American Pregnancy Association suggests trying to drink fluids 30 minutes before or after meals rather than with meals. Of course, drinking fluids throughout the day is essential to avoid dehydration.7
Other tips include:1
- Drink plenty of fluids during the day. Drinks that may help include teas and cold liquids.
- Try freezing fluids such as milk, juice, or water. The cold numbs the back of your mouth and removes the bad taste and sensation that brings on nausea.
Mount Sinai recommends increasing vitamin B6 in your diet by eating whole grains, nuts, seeds, peas, and beans (legumes) and suggests doxylamine as another alternative medicine that is sometimes prescribed and known to be safe.8
The most important thing to remember regarding your pregnancy is that you are not alone; your medical team is there to support you every step of the way. Contact your healthcare provider if something feels off. There are resources out there to help you and a variety of remedies you can try. It may take a few hiccups to figure out what brings you relief, but even if it feels like you and your growing bump are in the middle of an unpleasant Groundhog Day in your bathroom, morning sickness isn’t forever!