Causes of Queasiness during Pregnancy

Queasiness is often one of the first signs of pregnancy and is usually at its worst during the first trimester. Though it’s often called morning sickness, this is actually a misnomer since it can occur at any time of the day or night. Not all pregnant women are affected with some experiencing no queasiness at all. However unwelcome morning sickness may be, you can be assured that it’s a perfectly normal part of being pregnant and is often considered to be an indication of a healthy pregnancy.

Morning sickness is extremely common, affecting up to 75 percent of expectant mothers with around half of those also suffering from vomiting. To date, no one is entirely sure of the exact cause of queasiness during pregnancy. Though there are strong links indicating hormones as the main culprits, certain risk factors can mean some women are more predisposed to suffering nausea than others.

Hormonal causes

The most common explanation for morning sickness is the sharp rise in the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) which occurs shortly after conception. There is also an increase in estrogen and progesterone, both female hormones which are at their highest levels during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. It’s this sudden increase of hormonal activity which occurs at exactly the same time as morning sickness that suggests the link.

Evolutionary reasons

Some scientists believe it’s possible that the nausea associated with early pregnancy is an evolutionary adaptation, that’s automatically triggered to warn the pregnant mother against eating anything that could potentially harm her or her unborn baby. Mothers-to-be often feel queasy at the thought of eating certain foods with a higher risk factor of contamination such as shellfish, poultry or eggs.

Stomach problems

Sometimes queasiness can be triggered by excess stomach acids which can be made worse by eating certain types of food. Acid reflux is also more likely to occur as pregnancy hormones tend to relax the sphincter muscle which normally acts to prevent this happening.

Furthermore, many pregnant women have an enhanced sense of smell and become highly sensitive to certain odors. They can feel nauseous simply smelling certain foods normally enjoyed, for example coffee or alcohol. And as the pregnancy progresses, the baby takes up more space, putting greater pressure on your stomach, making it difficult to properly digest your food resulting in indigestion or reflux.

Risk factors

If you have a history of nausea or vomiting during previous pregnancies then you will probably have to go through this again with successive pregnancies. Or if you have a sensitive stomach or suffer from motion sickness when traveling for example, you may have a greater risk of queasiness.

Some women suffer from nausea as a side effect of taking the birth control pill, especially those containing the hormone estrogen. These women may therefore be at a greater risk of experiencing sickness again while pregnant.

Further risk factors include stress or extreme tiredness which can worsen symptoms of queasiness as can low blood sugar or a lack of vitamin B6. And mothers-to-be who are pregnant with more than one baby can experience a more severe case of nausea and vomiting. This is thought to be due to the enlarged placenta and higher hormonal levels than those carrying a single baby.

Since there is no definitive cause of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, it is difficult to treat. Many expectant mothers find eating ginger biscuits or dry crackers can help ease the symptoms while eating little and often places less of a burden on the digestive system. There are many remedies you can try but as every woman is different, what works for one person may not work for another.

The worst symptoms of morning sickness should start to ease off once the first 12 weeks are over, though a few pregnant mothers will continue suffering throughout the pregnancy. And unless you are experiencing severe vomiting, it shouldn’t pose any significant health problems for you or your baby. For most mothers-to-be, coping with morning sickness is simply an unwelcome side effect of pregnancy that will eventually disappear to be replaced by the arrival of their beautiful new baby.