Five Unknown Things that Can Cause Morning Sickness

Reviewed by James Brann, MD
The term “morning sickness” is actually a misleading, as the nauseous feeling or vomiting that occurs when a woman becomes pregnant can often last all day long, not just in the morning. It sometimes feels worse in the morning and gradually lessens in intensity throughout the day, but then it comes back again the next day.
What causes morning sickness is largely a mystery, but it affects over half to three-quarters of all pregnant women during the first trimester of pregnancy. Some women experience more severe cases than others, with different levels of mild to debilitating sickness. If you are searching for answers as to why you may suffer from morning sickness, there is no easy explanation.
These 5 Things Can Make Morning Sickness More Likely:

  • 1. Changes in Hormones.
    While this is inevitable to occur, it is important to understand why you feel nauseous. Estrogen, hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) and even changes in thyroid levels change rapidly during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. Most women experience a “peak” around the same time as hCG levels are at their highest intensity. Staying hydrated (yes, drinking more water), even if you don’t feel like drinking anything, can help with morning sickness.
  • 2. Weak Stomach.
    Some women develop a stomach bacterium or have sensitivity to certain foods, which can heighten the feeling of nausea. Stay away from spicy foods or fatty foods, as these can increase sensitivity to nausea. Instead, eat very plain foods that are high in iron, like spinach, dried fruit, and certain iron-enriched cereals with low sugar content.
  • 3. Computer use.
    Do you spend a lot of time on the computer? If so, the flickering of the monitor can make your morning sickness worse because it strains your eyes. Although flickering is barely noticeable, it does heighten sensitivity in some women. Try adjusting the screen background to a soft shade and avoid bold colors and small fonts.
  • 4. Stress.
    When you first become pregnant, your body is stressed. You now have to “share” everything with your fetus, so this is a natural response that you may not have any control over. Cutting back on external stress – such as unhealthy relationships, excessive work, and other personal problems may help to alleviate some of your morning sickness. Although you may not feel like doing anything, studies reveal that exercise can actually help to decrease the intensity of morning sickness.
  • 5. Pre-natal Vitamins.
    This seems like a catch-22. Your doctor may recommend pre-natal vitamins and you want to take them to make sure you get enough nutrients for the baby, but these big “horse pills” are often difficult to digest, especially if you have a sensitive stomach. Try switching to children’s vitamins; at least until after the first trimester nausea goes away.
There may be other ways to alleviate morning sickness, such as avoiding terrible smells or strong perfumes and lotions, etc. Try smelling “good scents” such as rosemary, lemon extract or subtle scents. Ginger is also considered a spice that can relieve nausea, so try reaching for some Gingersnaps or cooking up some gingerbread and see if it helps!

Also, if you cannot drink a lot of water – and you really should – then try sucking on ice cubes. Cold drinks will help, so you can also make homemade juice pops if there seems like nothing else you can put down. Finally, remember to eat very, very small meals, not large portions!


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