Feeling queasy? Here’s why morning sickness may be protective for pregnancy



Anyone who’s suffered from morning sickness will know there’s nothing fun about it. The nausea, the vomiting, the constant feeling of ‘yuck’; it’s no walk in the park. When you’re hurling most days and feeling like a soggy lukewarm hot dog for the rest of the time, it’s hard to think of morning sickness as a positive. But now new research shows that morning sickness may be protective for your pregnancy. While that idea has been thrown around for quite some time, this research backs that notion...

The research, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, analysed the results of a previous trial. (That trial had consisted of women who had lost one or two previous pregnancies.) As part of the study, 797 participants kept a diary, jotting down any symptoms of nausea they experienced between weeks two and eight of pregnancy.

The data showed that women who had morning sickness were 50-75 percent less likely to lose their pregnancy than those who didn’t suffer symptoms of nausea or vomiting. “Our study evaluates symptoms from the earliest weeks of pregnancy, immediately after conception, and confirms that there is a protective association between nausea and vomiting and a lower risk of pregnancy loss,” said first author of the study, Dr Stefanie N. Hinkle. But don’t stress if you feel well. “A lack of morning sickness does not mean that a woman will miscarry,” reassures obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Kelly Griffin. “Every woman and every pregnancy is different,” she says explaining that the so-called ‘protective effect’ is “merely an association”.

Obstetrician and fertility expert Dr Alex Polyakov agrees. He says that research shows that morning sickness can be protective, but that feeling well is “not a cause for concern”. He says that if you reach 8-10 weeks gestation and your first ultrasound is reassuring, your pregnancy has “an excellent chance of producing a healthy child… irrespective of the presence or otherwise of morning sickness”. However, for those suffering from morning sickness, this study may offer some solace. After all, it can be a long, hard road when you’re sick all the time.

I know that all too well, as I had severe morning sickness in all three of my pregnancies. That consisted of terrible all day nausea and multiple episodes of vomiting a day. (Yep, it was as fun as it sounds.) In my first pregnancy, I could barely keep any food down. One day, I managed to nibble through just one dry cracker and keep down one glass of water. While other people were getting excited about the idea of eating for two, I was barely capable of eating for one! That said, I tried to focus on the ‘positives’ of morning sickness – the main (perhaps only?) one being how unbelievably grateful I was for being pregnant.

However, when such thoughts alone weren’t enough to get me through, I tried a whole array of morning sickness treatments. From nibbling on salt and vinegar chips (which were surprisingly helpful – at times), to taking ginger tablets, and then medication, I wasn’t shy about asking for help. If you’re suffering from morning sickness, I highly recommend seeking help to manage your symptoms. But now you can also take solace in the fact that, even though you may feel like you’re sporting the world’s worst hangover, such symptoms may be a good sign for your pregnancy.

Words: Evelyn Lewin | Image: Courtney Adamo and family photographed for Babyccino Kids by Sara Welch


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