‘Counting On’: Why Do All of the Duggar Women have Such Terrible Morning Sickness?

Pregnancy and morning sickness affect everyone differently. For some, the nausea is very mild, and they might not experience any morning sickness at all. But for others, the morning sickness can be overwhelming and force them to spend their days bedridden. But the Duggar women, the stars of TLC’s Counting On, all seem to have terrible morning sickness at the start of their pregnancies. Why?

Anna Duggar Josh Duggar
Anna Duggar said she battled difficult morning sickness while pregnant. | Kris Connor/Getty Images

Morning sickness is a common side effect of pregnancy

Almost every woman has heard of morning sickness, whether she has been through a pregnancy or not. Morning sickness is the feeling of being nauseous, and sometimes getting sick, due to a pregnancy. It most frequently occurs during the first trimester, but it can be different for everyone. And the Duggars, through all of the many pregnancy announcements this year, have talked about morning sickness quite a bit.

When a woman becomes pregnant, her hormones start to change in response to the growing baby. Increased hormones in the body lead to the nauseous feeling, though, according to the American Pregnancy Association, many doctors see morning sickness as a good sign because it means the placenta is developing the way it should be.

That first-trimester nausea can be genetic, which might explain a lot

Though morning sickness has to do with the hormones changing in the body, studies suggest that genes play a large role in a woman developing morning sickness, too. The Duggar daughters’ genes might have something to do with the reason so many of them have dealt with it. However, that might not be the case for all of them, since many of the Duggar sons’ wives have had problems with morning sickness, too, and they are not related except through marriage.

In Abbie Duggar’s case, the nausea is actually a medical problem

Abbie Duggar’s terrible morning sickness might not be genetic; Abbie actually has a medical problem known as hyperemesis gravidarum, which is a condition that results in extreme morning sickness. Some might recognize the term because Kate Middleton, the wife of Prince William, also battled with the difficult condition through all three of her pregnancies. Hyperemesis gravidarum results in intense bouts with morning sickness that can last far beyond the first trimester, though the exact cause of the condition remains unknown. However, its cause likely has hormonal roots.

Abbie Duggar explained on Counting On that within her first eight weeks of pregnancy, she had already been admitted to the hospital three times due to her intense morning sickness.

The effects of morning sickness vary from person to person

Morning sickness varies depending on the person. Some people experience light nausea that only occurs within the first few weeks, while others can have nausea and vomiting all well into the second trimester. Anna Duggar, Josh Duggar’s wife, once told a fan that she’d had difficult morning sickness that lasted into her 20th week of pregnancy. Kendra Duggar said that she was having morning sickness up until her baby’s gender reveal, which usually comes between 16 and 20 weeks. The Duggar women seem to just be unlucky when it comes to severe morning sickness, though the causes for each woman vary.