Morning sickness typically is attributed to hormonal changes in pregnancy. We asked whether morning sickness is associated with changes in standing postural equilibrium, as occurs in research on visually induced motion sickness. Twenty-one pregnant women (mean age = 30 years, mean height = 163. cm; mean weight = 63. kg) were tested during the first trimester. Laboratory-based balance measures were collected, along with perceived postural stability, the presence of morning sickness, and the severity of subjective symptoms. We varied the distance between the feet and the visual task performed during stance. Participants were classified as either experiencing (Sick, n= 12) or not experiencing (Well, n= 9) morning sickness. Perceived balance stability was lower for Sick than for Well women. The positional variability of sway was reduced for the Sick group, relative to the Well group. Positional variability decreased with wider stance width, and was reduced during performance of a more demanding visual task. Stance width and visual task also influenced the temporal dynamics of sway. Effects of stance width and visual task on postural sway were similar to effects in non-pregnant adults, suggesting that sensitive tuning of posture is maintained during the first trimester. The findings suggest that women with morning sickness may attempt to stabilize their bodies by reducing overall body sway. It may be useful to recommend that women adopt wider stance early in pregnancy.
- Morning sickness