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Ask Dr. Sears: Answers to Common Pregnancy Questions

Growing a baby will challenge your body, your mind, your marriage, your job, and your whole being as you experience feelings you've never had before. Pregnancy can be summed up in one word: change! Everything will change, from making breakfast to making love. Yet when you consider that you are bringing forth a life in just nine short months, it will make the inconveniences and discomforts much easier to bear. While pregnancy is a journey unique to every woman, most mothers-to-be have the following questions and concerns...

Morning Sickness

Q. What causes morning sickness? And when will it end?

A. As with so many other complaints of pregnancy, morning sickness is caused by hormones. These hormones affect much more than your reproductive system. They can unsettle your stomach and slow your digestion, enhance your sense of smell, and leave you exhausted at the end of the day. Long before the rest of the world can see that you are pregnant, you may feel as if your body has been taken over by aliens who seem to enjoy making you miserable.

As most pregnant women discover, "morning" sickness can strike any time of the day or night, with queasiness that can be triggered by hunger, the smell of the neighborhood hot dog stand, or just getting out of bed in the morning. Fortunately, it usually ends sometime during the third or fourth month. One thing that can be said about pregnancy nausea: Two or three months of feeling crummy can really help you appreciate feeling the surge of energy and appetite that comes when it's over.

To keep early morning sickness at bay, many women eat saltines or wheat crackers before getting out of bed. Eating six mini-meals throughout the day rather than three larger ones makes digestion easier and can help prevent hunger-triggered nausea. Fruit smoothies are also a good choice, as they're rich in nutrients and, because they're cold, they often don't have a strong scent to upset your stomach. If your prenatal vitamin is making you sick, try taking it with food, and talk to your doctor if you're having trouble keeping it down. There are medications as well as new vitamin options that are designed for women who are suffering from severe morning sickness.