Morning Sickness: 9 Popular Myths and Truths

Sifting through folklore and remedies
Morning Sickness: 9 Popular Myths and Truths

It seems like everyone has advice for you when you’re pregnant. Some is helpful; some not so much. Though people may present their advice as fact, you’ll hear a lot of myths — especially about morning sickness.

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More than 70% of pregnant women experience some sort of morning sickness. Because it’s so prevalent — and it can make you so miserable — you’ll want to discover what’s true and what’s just an unhelpful myth.

Below, Ob/Gyn Karmon James, MD, busts the myths or confirms truths you may hear about morning sickness from others.

1. Morning sickness only happens in the morning.

False. Morning sickness can affect you at any time of the day or night. Most women have some sort of nausea in the morning, but not all experience vomiting.

2. It usually disappears after the first trimester.

True. Many women do feel better by the time they reach 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy. But, for a small percentage of patients, it can last longer — sometimes through the entire pregnancy.

3. Morning sickness only happens with a first child.

False. You can experience morning sickness with any or all of your pregnancies. 

4. It harms the baby.

False. Normal morning sickness doesn’t harm you or your baby.

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However, if nausea and vomiting become severe enough that you can keep very little down, you’ll need to see your doctor. Some women with these symptoms develop a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, which may require a hospital stay to replenish fluids and vitamins.  

5. Morning sickness indicates you are having a boy.

False. It provides no indication of the gender of the child. 

6. If you are nauseous, it’s better to skip a meal than to eat less healthy foods.

False. If you have trouble keeping food down, this is the one time when doctors may recommend that you eat what sounds good.

Some women have severe aversions to certain specific foods with morning sickness. If veggies make you sick those first few months, you need to focus more on keeping things down.

7. You have to just suck it up and deal with it.

False. Some women find relief by eating frequent, small snacks of dry cereal or toast or crackers. Many women take vitamin B-6 or drink ginger tea as well.

However, these are less likely to help if you have a lot of vomiting. You might need to take an anti-nausea medication. Some patients don’t like taking drugs, so it’s really about patient preference unless someone gets dehydrated, which can be dangerous.

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8. Heartburn is the same thing as morning sickness.

False. Heartburn, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also can cause nausea. If you have that, you can treat it with a chewable antacid or other over-the-counter medication.

If heartburn is an issue for you, try avoiding spicy food, elevate the head of the bed and avoid going to bed right after eating.

9. Morning sickness signals a healthy pregnancy.

True. It can offer a sign of a healthy pregnancy.

In fact, a study released in 2016 looked at women who had already had a miscarriage. Researchers found that those who had morning sickness with later pregnancies were 50 to 75% less likely to have another miscarriage.

So don’t worry about what people tell you about morning sickness. Now you have the facts. 

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