Morning Sickness Link Found, but You'll Still Feel Crappy

Cynthia Dermody
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close up of ginger ale
Flickr photo by racheocity
You know what morning sickness is ... but hopefully you're one of the 30 percent of women who've only read about it in books or heard their pregnant friends whine. I was one of the lucky majority who actually experienced it.

Today I nostalgically refer to that time as the Three Months of Vomit. My main diet was ginger ale and saltines. Every once in a while, I got a craving for white rice at the Chinese place, but 9 out of 10 times I retched on that, too.

How I didn't lose major weight or end up in the hospital for dehydration I don't know, but my doctor never classified my case as hyperemesis gravidarum, which is a fancy name for Really Bad Morning Sickness.

This is the clinically severe type that lands you in the hospital because you can't keep anything -- even saltines or ginger ale -- down, and you're so dehydrated and malnourished that your and your baby's health is at stake. About 2 percent of pregnant women suffer from it.

Doctors are still reluctant to treat morning sickness with drugs, except for the really bad cases, of course. No one will ever forget thalidomide. The usual advice is to just tough it out, which I and lots of other women did and do, while scientists continue to look deeper into the causes of why some women get it and some don't, especially the Really Bad kind that carries such high risks.

Now they think there may be a hereditary element.

A recent Norwegian study found a mother-daughter link between hyperemesis gravidarum. Daughters of women who had the condition during their pregnancy had a 3 percent risk of developing it as well, compared with 1 percent in those whose mothers didn't have it.

As awful as it was, I don't think I had hyperemesis gravidarum because I never lost weight or became clinically dehydrated. But this link theory is interesting, so this morning I emailed my mom, and this is what she said:

"Yes, I did have morning sickness with both you and your brother. It was awful. I couldn't eat a thing all morning, I had the dry heaves for about three to four months, and then things got better. Food didn't appeal to me the whole nine months, which is why I only gained about 14 pounds the entire nine months."

I gained just 18 pounds with my first pregnancy (though a decent 36 with my second). Curious now what your mom says about morning sickness -- if both of you shared a similar experience?

Tell me in comments if you feel like it ...

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