This Is When To Worry About Your Morning Sickness

Nausea and vomiting are among the best-known side effects of pregnancy, so for most people who become pregnant, feeling queasy is hardly a surprise. What can be a surprise is just how intense and frequent it can be. The term "morning sickness" leads many people to believe that nausea only hits in the mornings. In reality, however, it can crop up at any time and can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life (per Women and Birth).

Regardless, suffering some nausea and vomiting during pregnancy isn't necessarily a bad sign. In fact, research suggests that people who experience nausea during pregnancy are less likely to miscarry (via JAMA Internal Medicine), and that on average, their children score higher on cognitive tests (per The Journal of Pediatrics). Paul Sherman, Cornell professor of neurobiology and behavior, told the Cornell Chronicle that nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are likely the body's way of getting rid of microorganisms that could harm the fetus.

That being said, there is a point at which nausea and vomiting during pregnancy can become more harmful than helpful.

Severe vomiting is cause for concern

Around 70% of pregnant people experience nausea, but it's particularly severe for the 3% of pregnant people who develop hyperemesis gravidarum, according to Cleveland Clinic. People with this condition struggle to hold down food and liquids and often end up losing at least 5 pounds, which is especially concerning during a time when people are supposed to be gaining weight for the sake of their own health and that of their baby (per the CDC). A 2006 study (via Obstetrics & Gynecology) found that when hyperemesis gravidarum patients didn't gain enough weight during pregnancy, their children were more vulnerable to premature birth, low birth weight, and other health problems.

Severe vomiting can also lead to dehydration and even bleeding in the esophagus. The U.S. National Library of Medicine recommends consulting a doctor if you have abdominal pain, feel lightheaded or dizzy, find blood in your vomit, can't hold down fluids for over 12 hours, lose more than 5 pounds, or have signs of dehydration. You should also call your doctor if you have a fast heart rate, if your nausea prevents you from eating or drinking, or if you vomit three or more times per day, says Cleveland Clinic. These are all signs you could be suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum or another serious health issue.