Let's Talk About The Realities Of Morning Sickness

Photographed by Grace Willis.
Today on CBS This Morning, Kelly Clarkson, pregnant for the second time, described the draining effects of morning sickness. "I have to get IVs and fluids because I get so dehydrated," she told host Gayle King. "It's really bad." Clarkson's first pregnancy was no different, as she explained to Ellen Degeneres in 2013: "I vomit a good dozen times a day." The singer summed up her experience with the most succinct description possible — "It's, like, bad."

Clarkson's story is remarkably similar to that of Kate Middleton, whose pregnancies famously featured hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition even worse than extreme morning sickness. Although morning sickness is one of the most commonly depicted symptoms of pregnancy, it's rare to see how debilitating it can truly be.

Here's the thing: Morning sickness (which, for the record, is not contained just to the a.m.) is so frequently shown as a sign of pregnancy because it is very common. In fact, it affects more than half of pregnant women. There's no direct way to treat it, but getting plenty of rest, eating mild foods (and avoiding getting too hungry), and generally treating your morning sickness like a regular stomach bug is recommended. Moderate cases are relatively easy to manage and normally abate by the midpoint of pregnancy.

Why, then, would Kelly Clarkson need to rely on an IV drip to keep her going? Severe cases of morning sickness prevent women from keeping anything in their stomachs, and this can lead to dehydration and even weight loss, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Doctors usually suggest treatment with vitamin B6, over-the-counter anti-nausea and anti-vomiting medications, and in the worst cases, IVs and/or prescription drugs.

Luckily, Clarkson's hardships may not be a bad sign: Research shows that women who deal with morning sickness are less likely to miscarry or give birth prematurely, and their children may even go on to be smarter than average. Silver linings?
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