Morning sickness is common during pregnancy. The symptoms usually include nausea, vomiting, and aversion to certain foods. Despite its name, morning sickness can happen at any time of the day.
Some researchers think that morning sickness is related to a hormone produced during pregnancy called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
Experts believe it might be the body’s way of protecting mothers and fetuses from food-borne illness and certain chemicals found in foods. But more research is needed to fully understand morning sickness.
Morning sickness is uncomfortable, but in general, not dangerous. In most pregnant women, it goes away after the first trimester.
When Does Morning Sickness Peak?
Morning sickness typically begins around week 6 of pregnancy and subsides by the third or fourth month. The exact peak of morning sickness is different for every woman, but it will generally be around week 9.
Cornell University researchers believe that symptoms peak when the baby’s organ development is most vulnerable to chemicals. This happens between week 6 and week 18 of pregnancy.
What Does It Feel Like?
The most common symptom of morning sickness is nausea. Some women also experience vomiting. You might notice that the nausea is worse when you encounter certain smells or when you eat certain types of foods. The particular nauseating food and odor is different for every woman.
At its peak, the nausea and vomiting may be slightly worse and more frequent, but it should still be mild. Many women find that they need to take it easy during the peak of morning sickness.
Are There Any Complications?
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is an extreme form of morning sickness that results in severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. It is not common and its exact cause is not yet known.
HG is different from the mild symptoms typically seen with morning sickness. Instead, it is characterized by:
- nausea that does not subside
- nausea accompanied by severe vomiting
- vomiting that causes severe dehydration
- losing more than 10 pounds or 5 percent of your body weight due to vomiting
- feeling lightheaded and dizzy
If untreated, HG can lead to dehydration and poor weight gain during pregnancy. It can have a profound negative effect on a woman’s quality of life and can even lead to depression.
HG usually extends beyond the first trimester. It may resolve by the fifth month of pregnancy. For some women, it continues for the entire pregnancy.
Call your doctor if you are vomiting many times each day and are unable to eat or drink anything without being sick.
What Can I Do to Prevent or Minimize It?
There is no known way to prevent morning sickness, but there are ways to manage its symptoms.
Your doctor might suggest that you take a vitamin B-6 supplement, antihistamine, or anti-nausea medication. Always talk to your doctor before taking any type of vitamin, herb, or medicine. Certain substances can harm your baby.
Taking prenatal or multivitamins before you get pregnant and during early pregnancy might help prevent severe morning sickness. But this has not been proven.
The following steps and lifestyle changes may help minimize nausea.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Take naps and rest often.
- Air out your home and workspace to eliminate nauseating scents.
- Eat small meals or just snacks throughout the day.
- Sip ginger ale or ginger tea.
- Take your vitamins at night instead of during the day.
- Don’t eat spicy foods.
- Don’t eat large meals.
- Don’t eat a lot of fatty or greasy foods.
- Don’t drink a lot of water or fluids with meals.
- Don’t lie down after eating.
- Don’t cook spicy or strong-smelling foods for yourself or other people.
While you may not be able to completely prevent or get rid of morning sickness, most women are able to ride it out without any issues.
Keeping a positive attitude and remembering that morning sickness usually goes away by the third or fourth month can help.
It might be difficult to eat healthy with morning sickness, but try to eat a diet with lots of vegetables and protein. Eat good fats like avocado and eggs, and be sure to drink lots of water.
Try these 14 recipes to help ease morning sickness.