Can Morning Sickness Be Made Worse by Stress?

Anyone who has had “morning sickness” will tell you that the name is misleading because it can strike at any time of day. Because pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting is so frequent, it may appear that everyone (and their mother) has a home remedy, old wives’ tale, or method to alleviate symptoms. If you’re pregnant, worried, and unwell, you might be wondering if stress makes morning sickness worse.

What is morning sickness and how does it affect you?

When you’re pregnant, your body produces hormones like oestrogen and progesterone to aid in the growth and maintenance of a new life. However, the body suffers as a result of these hormonal fluctuations. “During pregnancy, normal hormonal changes lead the digestive tract to slow down and the intestinal muscles to relax, both of which contribute to nausea and morning sickness,” explains Sheryl A. Ross, MD, an OB/GYN in Santa Monica, California.

Although everyone is different, many pregnant women suffer from nausea, vomiting, constipation, loss of appetite, or other gastrointestinal issues. Morning sickness is most common in the first trimester, but it can occur at any time throughout pregnancy (and at any hour), according to the Mayo Clinic.

What effect does stress have on morning sickness?

Even if you’re in the best mood of your life, pregnancy-related nausea can strike, according to Dr. Ross, but “stress can also induce and intensify morning sickness.”

Why? According to Cindy M. Duke, MD, an OB/GYN and clinical assistant professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Medicine, when you are stressed, your body releases cortisol, a stress hormone. When cortisol levels rise in tandem with pregnancy hormone levels, you may experience a variety of symptoms, including slower digestion and “a build-up of gastric acid secretions with nausea and even vomiting,” according to Dr. Duke.

To be clear, stress can create stomach problems on its own. Tanya J. Peterson, a nationally trained psychologist, author, and mental health educator at the American Institute of Stress, says it affects the digestive tract and can produce nausea and vomiting in people who aren’t pregnant. As a result, Peterson concludes that if you’re pregnant and nervous, you’re more likely to experience morning sickness symptoms.

Peterson also mentions that your body may be more sensitive when you’re worried. You may be able to cope with the hormonal changes and physical symptoms of pregnancy in less stressful conditions, but anxiety may make you—a normally calm person—feel morning sickness more strongly.

What should you do to deal with pregnancy symptoms?

Taking care of your nausea symptoms can help you relax and cope with your physical symptoms as well as the stress that comes with it. The BRATT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, and tea) is recommended by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) for nausea and vomiting. Additionally, clear beverages may be considered, but most importantly, listen to your body and keep track of what feels good throughout this phase.

If you can’t keep meals down, talk to your doctor, who may give you fluids to prevent dehydration, according to Dr. Duke. According to her, your doctor may prescribe drugs to aid with morning sickness or anxiety caused by stress. They could also perform a comprehensive physical examination. According to Dr. Duke, this could entail examining your “thyroid to confirm that the perception of’stress’ is not truly attributable to underlying medical issues such an overactive thyroid.”

If you’re not pregnant yet (and you’re researching morning sickness), start thinking about stress-relieving items now. “Ideally, stress management practises should be introduced before to conception. However, as early as feasible, I recommend beginning to measure stress levels and adopting stress-reduction techniques,” says Loree Johnson, PhD, LMFT, an infertility therapist and coach.

While this may seem daunting, simple exercise such as yoga or walking can help relieve stress, and you may be able to maintain your pre-pregnancy level of activity with the advice of your medical provider. Getting a good night’s sleep is another doable habit that will benefit both your physical and emotional health. “Rather of trying to devise a three-trimester stress-relieving strategy, approach it moment by moment, recognising your sensations and thoughts,” Peterson advises.

And, according to Dr. Johnson, if you’ve tried to handle stress on your own and still feel bad, you should talk to a mental health expert about how to deal with any stress or anxiety you’re experiencing. Try to remember that you deserve support and care, whether you’re coping with morning sickness, stress, or both.

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