If and when you're bent over the toilet during a pregnancy, whether you're a first time mom or a mom-to-be for the fourth time, you're not going to like morning sickness. Nothing feels good about a stomach that could get queasy at the drop of a hat – especially when you know you're supposed to be eating extra calories but just can't stomach anything. But even though nausea during pregnancy is certainly no picnic, researchers have found that it can actually be a good thing for both you and your child.
Why does morning sickness happen, anyway?
About 85 percent of women report feeling nausea during pregnancy, and half of those women report vomiting. While it's not 100-percent clear why morning sickness occurs, experts believe it's caused by rapidly increasing levels of the hormones estrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG. There are many other theories as to why it occurs, too.
It might protect you and your baby from toxins
Some experts believe that nausea and vomiting protects you and your unborn baby from toxins in certain foods. Many women experience nausea when they're around animal products and fish, which can harbor dangerous bacteria. Obviously, sometimes you might get nauseous because of perfectly OK foods, like pickles or cabbage, but there's still a correlation between foods that sometimes contain toxins and those that women are typically averse to.
It decreases your risk of complications
Studies have found that women who experience morning sickness during pregnancy are 30 percent less likely to have a miscarriage. Researchers have also linked nausea and vomiting to a reduced risk of preterm birth, low birth weight and even breast cancer later in life. It doesn't sound that bad anymore, does it?
It's not always a good thing, though
While nausea and vomiting here and there is considered normal, excessive vomiting isn't. Hyperemesis gravidarum is a condition in which women experience severe nausea, excessive vomiting, weight loss and sometimes electrolyte imbalances. This is dangerous because if you can't keep food down, you're not getting the nutrients you and your baby need for a healthy pregnancy. If you're feeling nauseous and throwing up more than you think is normal, talk to your health care provider immediately. Mild cases can be treated with a few dietary changes, rest and antacids, while more severe cases require hospital stays and IV fluids and nutrition. Remember when Kate Middleton was pregnant? She experienced a pretty serious case.