Morning Sickness Myths
Morning sickness is a pretty mysterious part of pregnancy. What causes it and why does it afflict some women but not all? Why do some women have it so much worse than others? Perhaps it’s this mystery that makes some of us believe the lore passed down from our aunties, coworkers, and other women in our lives. Perhaps we think of morning sickness as one of those womanly secrets that was better understood by the shamans and druids of old. After all, there’s so much about women’s health and reproduction that seems inextricably tied to the moon, the tides, and other mysterious forces of nature, so why not morning sickness? By that logic, all manner of myths may be fact.
We don’t claim to know it all, and we would never dare to contradict your Granny’s word that morning sickness means you’re having a boy (though that’s not the case). But we did a little research and found that some of the lore surrounding this infamous aspect of procreation is rooted in truth, while other commonly held beliefs simply don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny.
So, without further ado, here are some common myths about morning sickness that you may have heard:
- Just as the name implies, morning sickness only happens in the morning.
If you have ever experienced morning sickness, you’re probably either rolling your eyes or laughing your head off at this one. A better term for morning sickness would be “pregnancy sickness,” since this affliction rarely only disturbs its victims in the morning hours. If you have morning sickness and you’re confused as to why you’re having trouble keeping dinner down, wonder no longer… same malady, different time of day.1
- Morning sickness means you’re pregnant with a boy.
Actually, depending on the source, some people believe it means you’re going to have a girl. Really though, it’s not an indicator of the sex at all.1 We have an inkling that perhaps this claim has its roots in soothing the nerves of sick, expectant women who were more favored for producing sons, but we have no research to back up this suspicion.
- Morning Sickness is a sign of a healthy pregnancy.
Surprisingly, this one is actually true. Studies of women with histories of miscarriages show that women who have morning sickness with their pregnancy are less likely to miscarry than if they don’t have it.1-2 One study showed that the likelihood of miscarriage decreased by as much as 50-75% in these cases!1 Now that’s a silver lining!
- Morning sickness is harmful to the baby.
You may have guessed, based on our previous point, that this is actually false. The vast majority of morning sickness does not cause harm to either mother or child. The only time that there could be a question of harm is if the mother has severe, uncontrolled morning sickness to the point that she becomes unable to eat enough to provide for her growing baby and/or drink enough which can cause severe dehydration. However, morning sickness this severe is relatively rare, with only 1 in 1000 pregnancies resulting in morning sickness bad enough for these to be major concerns.1
- Morning Sickness goes away after the first trimester.
This one is usually true but not always. While most women who experience morning sickness start to find significant relief around the beginning of their second trimester, not all women are so fortunate. It’s absolutely possible to experience morning sickness throughout the first, second, or even third trimester.1
- Morning Sickness is best treated with fasting until symptoms improve.
False. This is the time to eat what sounds good to you, whether that’s crackers, smoothies, pizza, or take-out. Eating foods that don’t trigger nausea and sound appetizing can help to keep you and baby fed, even if nausea is your constant companion. Don’t stress fruits and veggies aren’t your go-to side dishes anymore; eating anything you can stomach is really the key.1,3
- The only relief from morning sickness will come with time.
Again, this just isn’t true. You don’t have to sit around gripping your stomach and waiting for relief that feels like it will never come. There are many pregnancy-safe methods to help reduce nausea, including both herbal remedies and medications. If you can’t seem to get your nausea under control, try ginger tea or ginger candies, dry crackers or toast in small bites, a vitamin B6 supplement, or even ask your doctor for an anti-nausea medication that’s been approved for pregnant women. The last option should be your last resort, but it’s certainly better than dehydration or malnutrition.1-3
- Morning Sickness is a rite of passage for every mother
Not so! Try not to be jealous, but there are women out there who have had many babies and have never had morning sickness. We mentioned earlier that morning sickness can be a sign of healthy pregnancy, but lack of it is certainly no reason for concern.3
- Morning sickness is more common when pregnant with multiples
All life’s joys are multiplied with multiples, including morning sickness! Yes, if you are pregnant with more than one child, you are more likely to experience morning sickness.4
So, there you have it! Some myths are based in truth, and others are simply superstitions. Now you have the facts and can enjoy your morning sickness with fewer worries hehehe. Just remember that if you feel your morning sickness symptoms are abnormal, severe, or causing health problems, it’s absolutely appropriate to reach out to your healthcare provider and get a qualified medical opinion. You know your body best, and you should ask for help if you feel something isn’t right.
In parting, remember that eating healthy, whole foods, and lots of plant foods, is one of the simplest, safest, and most effective things we can do to promote good health in our bodies. As with every preventative/restorative measure though, sometimes these changes alone are not enough to help our bodies function the way we want or need them to. If you are struggling with health problems, please contact your doctor or other healthcare provider such a Naturopathic Doctor, Dietitian, or Mental Health Professional to see if they can offer appropriate guidance and care. We at Wholesome Story believe that healthy communities require community effort, so we advise you to keep your healthcare community aware and involved in your journey as you pursue better health.
- Team, W. H. (2021, December 17). Morning sickness: 9 popular myths and truths. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved June 24, 2022, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/pregnant-with-morning-sickness-9-myths-truths/
- Better Health Channel. (2022, April). Pregnancy - morning sickness. Pregnancy - morning sickness - Better Health Channel. Retrieved June 24, 2022, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-morning-sickness
- Eagles Landing OB/GYN. (2020, August 10). Let's debunk 6 myths about morning sickness. Eagles Landing OB/GYN. Retrieved June 24, 2022, from https://www.eagleslandingobgyn.com/lets-debunk-6-myths-morning-sickness/
- Mayo Clinic. (2021, May 15). Morning sickness. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved June 24, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/morning-sickness/symptoms-causes/syc-20375254