Two-thirds of pregnant women experience some type of "morning sickness" such as nausea and vomiting during the early stages of pregnancy. Now, Cornell University researchers say "morning sickness" actually helps protect both mother and fetus from exposure to infectious organisms and toxic chemicals that could result in fetal damage, miscarriage or even, in primitive societies at least, maternal death.
- WHAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE IN THIS REPORT?
This report confirms the beliefs doctors have had about "morning sickness." That it evolved to protect the embryo and young fetus from exposure to natural dietary toxins in vegetables, spices and some fruits that might cause malformations. The idea is that a pregnant woman afflicted with nausea and vomiting will be unlikely to eat certain foods that may be damaging to her fetus when its major organ systems are developing. These women develop aversions to these foods. Researchers also found that pregnant women who had nausea and vomiting also had a reduced risk of miscarriage and a greater chance that the pregnancy will have a healthy outcome.
- HOW WAS THE STUDY COMPILED?
Researchers looked at 56 studies of nearly 80-thousand pregnancies worldwide. After reviewing these studies, they found that the foods most pregnant women had an aversion to were meats, fish, poultry and eggs. Before refrigeration, animal products contained food-borne parasites and pathogens, microorganisms that could cause serious and debilitating illnesses for the woman and her unborn child. Also, early in pregnancy, the mother's immune system is suppressed so she avoids rejecting her own fetus. This leaves her vulnerable to all sorts of infectious diseases. So, the nausea and vomiting most often occurs during the first third of pregnancy when the fetus is developing its organs and central nervous system.
- IS MORNING SICKNESS NORMAL?
Morning sickness is a misnomer. The nausea and vomiting aren't limited to just the morning. A woman can experience these symptoms throughout the day. Also, it's not an illness. So, we like to call it NVP-- nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Two-thirds of women get it, but we don't know why some women get it and others don't. It could be genetic or hormonal. Morning sickness is a phenomenon that is adaptive, not pathological. It's not a symptom of a failing female body.
- SHOULD I BE CONCERNED IF I'M PREGNANT AND DON'T HAVE MORNING SICKNESS?
Although there are studies that show women who experience nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are less likely to miscarry, there's really no reason for great concern. Women who don't get the morning sickness symptoms may have better diets. The studies show that pregnant women who had corn as a food staple without animal products did not have morning sickness.
- WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS A PREGNANT WOMAN CAN DO TO ALLEVIATE MORNING SICKNESS?
Women should snack on dry foods often. Keeping some crackers on the nigt table and eating several before getting out of bed in the morning is a good idea. Also, pregnant women should stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids such as water, carbonated, non-caffeinated beverages, which can be soothing. Women should also avoid odors and foods that make them feel queasy. They should also avoid taking medications.
- SINCE A PREGNANT WOMAN WILL LIKELY HAVE AVERSIONS TO SOME FOODS, HOW CAN SHE STILL GET ALL THE VITAMINS AND MINERALS SHE NEEDS?
If a woman is craving ice cream, she should have it. The body is probably telling the woman that she needs calcium. In primitive societies, some women have craved eating dirt-- because they needed iron in their bodies. Also, women need to make sure they take vitamins and supplements during pregnancy and to make sure they get folic acid to reduce the risk of spinal defects. But the bottom line is that if a pregnant woman has a craving, they should go and satisfy it. The body is programmed to crave things it neds.
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