The myths and facts of morning sickness

morning sickness
morning sickness Photo: Getty Images

Many mums and mums-to-be are quite familiar with the often uncomfortable and unpredictable symptoms of morning sickness. To help you manage your pregnancy with some peace of mind, we've found the truth in some commonly held myths. 

It only happens in the morning
Contrary to the name, nausea can actually happen to pregnant women at any time of the day. According to a study by nausea relief brand, Sea-Band Mama, an unfortunate 24 per cent of people experience it consistently throughout the day.

It’s not normal if you don’t have morning sickness 
If you don’t have any nausea at all it doesn’t suggest that your pregnancy is any less viable or that you are more likely to have a miscarriage. You should consider yourself lucky! If you have any concerns that your pregnancy is not normal, you should speak to a health professional.

While some studies have shown that women who miscarriage are less likely to have had nausea, there are also plenty of women with perfectly normal pregnancies who have little or no nausea during their first trimester, too.  

It reduces the amount of nutrients reaching your baby
In most cases, morning sickness won’t harm you or your unborn child. Even if you’re only managing to keep a small amount of food or drink down, your baby will still get all the nutrients they need. 

However, severe morning sickness that includes weight loss and dehydration requires prompt medical attention. This is a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, and according to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, it's thought that between 0.3 and 1.5 percent of pregnant women will experience it. But even with this extreme illness, the foetus won't be affected unless the nausea and vomiting goes untreated for an extremely prolonged amount of time.

Although vomiting and retching may strain your abdominal muscles and cause a bit of aching and soreness, there’s no harm to your baby; the foetus is perfectly cushioned inside its sac of amniotic fluid. In fact, the baby will be a lot more comfortable than you are.

It’s all in your head
Morning sickness is a real thing and it’s not all in your head. Around half to two thirds of all pregnant women will experience morning sickness to some degree, particularly in the first trimester, so at least try to take some comfort in knowing you’re not alone. 

No one knows exactly why morning sickness occurs, but it’s thought to relate to elevated hormone levels including progesterone, oestrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). It’s a potent mix but definitely a scientific fact – there’s nothing made up about that! 


If you have more morning sickness, you’re having a girl
Most experts believe this is definitely a myth – but having said that, several studies have found that among women who have been admitted to hospital for severe sickness, slightly more than half delivered girls (53 per cent to 56 per cent). And there has been at least one study which found that women carrying a female foetus had higher HCG levels than with a male foetus. 

Nevertheless, even among those with the worst morning sickness, the male and female offspring is nearly 50-50, and whether this applies to milder cases is still unknown.  

There’s nothing to help ease it
Rest is the most important tool in your battle against morning sickness. You can also try avoiding drinks that are really cold or sweet, wearing comfortable clothes that won’t pinch your stomach, and trying to distract yourself as much as possible to keep your mind off the discomfort. If reading or watching the TV makes you feel worse, try closing your eyes and listening to some gentle music instead. 

Morning sickness can often be worse when you’re hungry or your blood sugar levels are low, so to relieve these triggers, try eating a few dry crackers before you get up in the morning, when you haven’t eaten for several hours. Throughout the day, drink plenty of fluids and make sure your diet is high in carbohydrates and protein.

It’s also a good idea to be prepared so you don’t get caught out. UK group Pregnancy Sickness Support advises carrying a little 'survival' pack including boiled lollies, a bottle of water, baby wipes and a sick bag (a nappy sack works well). This will mean you won’t feel panicked if nausea catches you at an awkward time.

It will all end at the 12-week mark
For many women, morning sickness begins around the 4th - 6th week of pregnancy, and resolves by the 12th to 14th week. However, one in five women experience morning sickness into their second trimester, and an unfortunate 11 per cent of mums-to-be experience nausea and vomiting for the entire duration of their pregnancy.   

It’s caused by vitamin deficiency
Some women have found that taking Vitamin B6 and B12 supplements have helped ease morning sickness, but this doesn't mean that they had a deficiency before taking the vitamins. One study even showed that there was no difference in the levels of Vitamin B6 in women who had morning sickness and those who didn't. 

Regardless, some pregnant women can relieve nausea and vomiting by taking Vitamins B6 and B12, because they aid in the absorption of magnesium, which helps build and repair body tissue. It’s important you speak to your doctor before taking vitamin supplements in high doses.

If you were sick with one pregnancy, you’ll be sick again with the next one
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about two-thirds of women who experienced severe morning sickness the first time will have bad symptoms again with their next pregnancy. On the other hand, a third of mums will do much better the second time. You just never know!