Why Does Morning Sickness Happen All Day?

Morning sickness doesn't always stop in the a.m. Learn why you could be feeling icky into the evening.

morning sickness Valua Vitaly/ Veer

It may be called morning sickness, but that icky, nauseated feeling can strike at almost any time of day. In fact, nearly 80 percent of pregnant women report getting their morning sickness at some point other than the morning, according to Marra Francis, M.D., an ob-gyn in Woodlands, Texas, and a contributing author to the Mommy MD Guides. And if you're one poor, unfortunate soul, your baby could have you barfing morning, noon, and night.

You can blame the hormones that are helping your body make a comfortable temporary home for your baby for your 24/7 nausea. "The exact hormones that are implicated in morning sickness are hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and estrogen," Dr. Francis says. "The hCG appears to bind to thyroid-stimulating hormone receptors in the brain and cause a temporary thyroid disturbance that induces nausea in some women. And the estrogen appears to affect the serotonin receptors in the brain, causing the same symptoms." A third hormone, progesterone, also contributes. "Progesterone can slow down your GI tract," says Michele Hakakha, M.D., FACOG, an ob-gyn in Beverly Hills and author of Expecting 411. "The food is sitting in your stomach and intestines longer, which leads to nausea, gas, and constipation." So consider that first-trimester surge of hormones a triple whammy on your digestive system and you'll understand exactly why you're feeling a bit green around the gills.

Your hormone levels are rising rapidly in the first trimester, and if your stomach is particularly sensitive to the effects off all these new hormones in your system, you may feel the symptoms all day long. But don't worry--as you hit the second trimester, the hormone levels starts to level off, and most moms-to-be suddenly find themselves feeling back to their old, not-so-nauseated selves.

So why do some people breeze through pregnancy without a single day of feeling queasy while others have it all day, every day for weeks? Doctors aren't exactly sure, but there are some risk factors for having a stronger bout of morning sickness, including expecting twins, suffering from car sickness or migraines prepregnancy, or even being pregnant with a girl. How morning sickness affects pregnant women differs from one woman to the next--and even from one pregnancy to the next. "It's hard to say that anything is common in pregnancy," Dr. Francis says. "The ways people react to the changes in their body are so different." So you might be able to take some small comfort in knowing that you're not alone in having all-day morning sickness--and you may not even have it next time, if you're expecting again down the road.

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