Can morning sickness hurt my baby?

When I was pregnant with my eldest daughter, I used to worry about whether morning sickness was hurting her in some way.

I’d think about it in the middle of the night. In fact, my first words after she was born were “Is she ok?!!”.

I’m not alone. Pregnancy forums are full of Mums worrying about the impact of morning sickness and asking the same question, “Can morning sickness hurt my baby?”

My beautiful bub

Should you be worried?

Many of us worry about the impact of morning sickness on our growing babies.

I‘m 6w 4d and I feel sick all the time.

I vomit most days.

My doctor (who I don’t really like) says my little baby is fine but I’m worried my morning sickness is hurting them, especially because I’m not eating in a really healthy way. Most things make me feel sick, especially vegetables and meat. I can drink water ok as long as it’s icy cold.

So I guess my question is, can morning sickness hurt my baby?
– Ellie

Can morning sickness hurt my baby? Morning sickness can make you feel awful, stop you from eating in a healthy way, but it won't hurt your baby! It's just Mama-to-be who is getting knocked about. It's hard work growing a little human!

So, let’s jump straight to it. Morning sickness can do a lot of things. It can really affect your quality of life, it can make work almost unbearable, it can mess with your diet and it can stop you from socialising.

But know this, morning sickness can’t hurt your baby.

The rare exception is in very severe cases of  hyperemesis gravidarum or HG for short. HG is something very different to straight up morning sickness, and is characterised by significant weight loss and dehydration. That’s not what we are talking about here.

Even though your diet may not be great, your body will give everything you’ve got available to growing your baby. It re-prioritised the moment you conceived. Do your best (it’s all you can do) and trust the process, your baby actually needs very little from you in terms of nutrition in the early weeks.

In fact some research suggests that morning sickness is linked to lower  rates of miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth and birth defects (1).

I still feel worried, what can I do?

  • Love your doctor

    Your doctor or midwife can make a huge difference to your pregnancy experience. Competent and qualified isn’t good enough when it comes to looking after pregnant women. You need someone who cares about your health and is supportive as well.  Someone who is insensitive or dismissive can add to your anxiety.

    If you can, find a doctor that you love. At the very least, find a doctor that you trust. If you don’t feel this way about your current doctor, then it’s time for a change.

    If you are really sick you may need to making decisions about whether to use medication (or what type to use). Your doctor or midwife will probably be your key advisor so they need to be the right person for the job!

  • Tweak your expectations

    It may also help to make peace with your pregnancy looking much different to what you may have imagined.

    You know that happy and relaxed looking woman with a tidy bump sticking out the front. That may not be you.

    I spent each of my pregnancies looking very tired and a kind of green-ish grey in colour. Not what I had in mind when I fell pregnant the first time, but I still ended up with beautiful healthy babies.

  • Tune out the noise

    The diet chapter in your pregnancy book, leaving you feeling guilty about your morning sickness diet? Put the book on the shelf.

    Pregnancy forums keeping you up night? Insta mamas-to-be making you feel unworthy? Time for a social media blackout.

    Your friend’s unsolicated morning sickness advice leaving you second guessing yourself? Take a temporary friendship break.

    Take a moment to reflect on your world. Is there anything, even if it’s subtle that is contributing to your pregnancy worries?

    Ditch it.

    Be ruthless.

The end is near

It’s also really important to keep this in mind: morning sickness ends.

Morning sickness can make you feel like your world is in slow motion. The days just go on and on, and the nights can too. But your morning sickness will end at some point. There is a nine month hard limit! And it will most likely it will pass at around week 12 or so.

In the meantime, make lots of time for self care. Keep people and information near you that supports you and lifts you up.

You’ll have your beautiful baby in your arms before you know it.

References (for article Can morning sickness hurt my baby?)

  1. Nulman I, Rovet J, Barrera M, Knittel-Keren D, Feldman BM, Koren G. Long-term neurodevelopment of children exposed to maternal nausea and vomiting of pregnancy and diclectin. J Pediatr 2009;155:45-50.

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