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Morning sickness can happen at any time

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Jakarta, IO – Nausea and vomiting are extremely common in the early stages of pregnancy, and they’ve earned the widely used nickname “morning sickness”. But why exactly have we come to call these tummy-turning symptoms by this name? 

An article from LiveScience, Tuesday (2/1/2024), details how pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting can strike at any time of day; even so, it is true that symptoms often flare just after waking up. Scientists do not know exactly why, but in general, studies suggest that hormonal changes in early pregnancy may drive morning sickness, according to the International Journal of Reproduction, Contraception, Obstetrics and Gynecology. 

A person’s levels of reproductive hormones surge in the first trimester. One hormone, called “human chorionic gonadotropin” (hCG), may be directly responsible for the queasiness tied to morning sickness. “We think that this hormone is associated with pregnancy sickness, because it is usually during the first trimester when this hormone is produced that women feel the most nausea,” Dr. Clara Paik, a professor and vice-chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UC Davis Health, said. However, the exact mechanism of how hCG drives the queasiness is not clear. 

Some researchers speculate that hCG may induce nausea by stimulating the secretion of fluids in the digestive tract. The hormone has also been linked to a rapid increase in the level of thyroxines — thyroid-made hormones that are involved in regulating digestion and helping control how quickly food moves through the digestive tract. 

The hormones estrogen and progesterone may also fuel symptoms of pregnancy sickness, “These hormones relax muscles in your stomach and intestines, slowing down digestion, meaning your last meal might hang around for a little longer and sometimes, unfortunately, reappear,” Dr. Adiele Hoffman, a general practitioner and medical advisor at the period-tracking app Flo Health, said. 

Hormones may also explain why some people get severe morning sickness while others get none at all. “Everyone’s level of these hormones varies, as does how their body responds to hormonal changes,” Hoffman noted. 

Women’s genetics may also influence how sick they feel during pregnancy sickness, according to a 2019 review published in the journal Nature Reviews Disease Primers. 

In addition to hormones and genetics, it is a fact that hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can worsen nausea, and in general, our blood sugar levels are lowest when we wake up. Pregnancy can lead to even bigger drops in blood sugar than one would typically experience overnight, due to the energetic needs of the growing fetus. 

When hypoglycemia couples with the relaxation of muscles in the stomach and intestines, nausea can be the unfortunate consequence, the review authors wrote. Moreover, symptoms of pregnancy sickness may be more pronounced in the morning, both due to a person having an empty stomach and experiencing a temporary drop in blood pressure when they get out of bed, Paik said. 

Read: Healthy Heart, Vibrant Life

Symptoms of morning sickness can also increase with stress, anxiety and fatigue, Paik noted. In both women who are pregnant and those that are not, negative emotions can fuel digestive discomfort, due to the close link between the nervous and digestive systems. 

People who are more likely to feel nauseated, in general — such as those who are prone to motion sickness, feel nauseous during migraines or get nausea as a side effect of estrogen-based drugs — are also more likely to experience morning sickness than less-nauseous individuals, Hoffman said. 

Thankfully, for most people afflicted with morning sickness, its symptoms tend to fade, as the second trimester begins. (*/est)

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