Leading femtech Flo Health supports new campaign calling for the phrase “morning sickness” to be replaced with “pregnancy sickness”
30 March 2022, London: The term “morning sickness” is a misnomer. Pregnancy sickness doesn’t just occur in the morning but can strike at any time of day, research led by the University of Warwick showed. Flo Health, the creator of Flo — the essential female health partner and the most downloaded health app in AppStore in 2021 — is joining forces with Nicola Cutcher and Charlotte Howden, the founders of the “Not Morning Sickness” campaign, which is calling on health professionals, the media, retailers, and the public to ditch the term ‘morning sickness’. Moving forward, all new content found within the Flo app will refer to “morning sickness” as “nausea and vomiting”, as pledged here.
“Flo is committed to creating a better future for female health and this includes providing women with accurate and accessible health information. Over 28 million women have logged pregnancy while using Flo, and while morning sickness sounds like something that is confined to just one part of the day, nausea and vomiting in pregnancy can occur at any time of the day. Given that the term is outdated and medically incorrect, we are joining in on the effort to put an end to this term. From this point forward, all new content found within the Flo app will refer to ‘morning sickness’ as ‘nausea and vomiting’. We hope that this shift in language will reflect the symptoms more accurately and encourage a greater sense of self-advocacy among those who experience this condition”, said Cath Everett, VP of Product & Content at Flo Health.
As part of the study published in the British Journal of General Practice in 2020, the researchers at the University of Warwick analysed hourly diaries kept by women in early pregnancy, finding that 94.2% experienced nausea and/or vomiting. Vomiting was most common in the morning, but over 13% of participants vomited at any given hour between 7 am and 10 pm. Nausea also peaked in the morning, with a slight peak in the evening too, and was highly likely to occur throughout the day, with over 60% of participants experiencing nausea in any given hour between 7 am and 10 pm.
As part of the “Not Morning Sickness” campaign, Nicola Cutcher and Charlotte Howden are asking people to make pledges in support of it, using the hashtag #NotMorningSickness and detailing how they can help to change the language.
They are encouraging women who have suffered from pregnancy sickness to share their personal stories to help raise awareness of the condition and to express their exasperation with the language surrounding it.
They are calling on journalists to stop using the term “morning sickness” because it is inaccurate, misleading, and underplays the suffering of women.
They are asking health professionals to respect the severity of the condition and stop using “morning sickness” in written materials and in consultations with patients.
Other countries are already leading the way. France, Sweden, Spain, and Italy all use the more generic terms of ‘pregnancy nausea’ or ‘pregnancy sickness’.
Campaign co-founder Nicola Cutcher says:
“Let’s take the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of morning sickness. It says it is a sign of pregnancy, occurring at any time of day’. Since when did ‘morning’ mean ‘any time of day’? This is broken language and women shouldn’t put up with it anymore.
“When I was ill during my pregnancy, I told a friend that I’d had a miserable day and thrown up lunch and dinner, and she replied, ‘sounds more like an all-day sickness’. I had to bite my hand to stop myself from screaming ‘it is an all-day-sickness’. I can’t blame my friends for taking words at face value. The terminology of ‘morning sickness’ diminishes the suffering of women and misleads those around us to think of pregnancy sickness as a minor inconvenience confined to the mornings. This is so wrong.
“I know that there are a lot of problems in the world but this one has an easy fix: just change the language! We can’t keep using a term that is inaccurate, misleading and trivialises the suffering of women. We’re calling time’s up for ‘morning sickness’.”
Campaign co-founder Charlotte Howden says:
“I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, a potentially life-threatening and debilitating form of severe pregnancy sickness. I’ve shared my story with the media many times to help raise awareness of just how life-changing this condition is. When I would then see my story reported as ‘really bad morning sickness’, I would feel incredibly disappointed and frustrated. No account of how many times a day I was being sick could undo the damage of that misleading headline. Morning sickness doesn’t cover it. We have to change the language and call it what it is — pregnancy sickness.”
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