Morning sickness is nausea and vomiting that occurs during pregnancy. It typically peaks from the middle to the end of the first trimester. However, some females may experience it for longer.
Whether you’re already pregnant, hoping to be, or wondering if you are, morning sickness is one of the most infamous pregnancy symptoms out there — it’s both miserable and reassuring. After all, who wants to feel nauseous? Yet this might be the sign you’ve been looking for: baby on the way!
The term “morning sickness” is rather misleading, as nausea and/or vomiting that you might experience may strike at any time of day.
Whether you already know you’re pregnant, or you’re wondering if the queasiness you felt last night could mean something, read on for more info about when morning sickness usually starts, when it will (hopefully!) end, how to manage your nausea, and when to get help if needed.
[the terms “male” and “female”]
In this article, we use “male and female” to refer to someone’s sex as determined by their chromosomes and “men and women” when referring to their gender (unless quoting from sources using nonspecific language).
Chromosomes determine sex, and gender is a social construct that can vary between time periods and cultures. Both of these aspects are acknowledged to exist on a spectrum both historically and by modern scientific consensus.
Morning sickness is the conversational name for nausea and vomiting experienced during pregnancy. It’s called morning sickness because many females experience the most severe symptoms first thing in the morning.
However, many would prefer to call it “anytime sickness,” as the nausea can come and go (or even be worse at other times of day, such as in the evening).
The stereotype of morning sickness is a pregnant female who throws up as soon as her feet hit the floor in the morning, but most moms report a variety of symptoms. Some throw up frequently, some are nauseated all day, and some just have nausea triggered by certain smells or foods.
Morning sickness most commonly begins around week 6 of pregnancy, although a few moms report feeling nausea as early as 4 weeks pregnant (which is only 2 weeks after conception!).
Week 4 of pregnancy is around the time your period is due to start. Most females have a positive pregnancy test at 5 to 6 weeks pregnant (which is typically 1 to 2 weeks after your period was due).
Symptoms may start out somewhat mildly around 6 weeks, get worse and peak around 9 to 10 weeks, and then decrease as you get closer to 12 to 14 weeks.
If you have morning sickness, you’re likely counting the days until you start feeling better. For many expecting moms, morning sickness begins to improve around 12 to 14 weeks (so around the start of the second trimester).
Almost all mothers report that their symptoms are completely gone by 16 to 20 weeks, although
Occasionally, nausea may resurface in the third trimester as the baby gets bigger and squishes your stomach and intestines (which doesn’t make for the most comfortable digestion).
While morning sickness does not start earlier if you are carrying twins, it may be more severe once it does start.
The theory is that pregnancy hormones — such as progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) that are produced by the placenta — are responsible for sickness in the first place.
If you’re pregnant with twins, you have higher levels of these hormones, and therefore might experience more severe morning sickness.
While it may be very uncomfortable (or even downright miserable) and disruptive to your daily life, the positive news is that morning sickness is very rarely harmful to you or your baby.
A very small percentage of females have an extreme form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum. This condition includes severe, uncontrollable nausea and vomiting that can result in weight loss, electrolyte imbalances, malnutrition, and dehydration. It can be harmful to you and your baby if left untreated.
If you’re throwing up more than you expected to, cannot eat or drink, develop a fever, lose more than 2 pounds in a week, or have dark-colored urine, it is important to call your doctor. They can check on you and your baby, and help control your vomiting so you can stay hydrated and nourished.
While morning sickness is a totally normal part of a healthy pregnancy, you don’t have to suffer without help for 3 months of nausea! There are some tricks and treatments you can try to help get some relief. Consider these remedies:
- Eat small, frequent meals (morning sickness is worse on a very full or very empty stomach).
- Eat plenty of protein and carbs (and avoid heavy, greasy foods).
- Sip ginger tea or chew on ginger candies.
- Drink peppermint tea or diffuse peppermint essential oil.
- Make an appointment for acupuncture or acupressure.
- Drink fluid in small sips throughout the day.
- Eat crackers before you get out of bed in the morning.
- Avoid strong smells whenever possible.
- Eat foods that you don’t have to cook like a sandwich, salad, or fruit smoothie.
- Drink lemonade or sniff some lemon juice.
- Avoid getting overheated.
- Continue exercise such as walking, prenatal yoga, or swimming.
- Get extra rest when possible.
If you find that home remedies aren’t helping to keep your morning sickness to a tolerable level, give your doctor a call. They may be able to prescribe a vitamin B6 supplement or an anti-nausea medication that’s safe to take during pregnancy.
If you are one of the lucky 20% to 30% of females who don’t experience morning sickness during pregnancy, you may be feeling nervous.
It can be unsettling when people ask, “Oh, how are you feeling?!” and you guiltily reply, “Totally fine!” — only to get strange looks and hear stories of how they threw up every day for months.
While you may be concerned about your lack of nausea, there are plenty of females who have completely healthy pregnancies without feeling sick at all. Some are more sensitive to hormonal changes or have more sensitive stomachs, which may make them more prone to nausea than others.
It’s also common to have nausea that comes and goes — some days you may feel like total yuck and other days feel just fine.
If you’re worried about your lack of sickness or sickness that stops suddenly, give your OB-GYN a call. They’ll be happy to help reassure you or check out your baby to make sure everything is fine.
Morning sickness is a term used to refer to nausea and vomiting that can happen anytime (day or night) during pregnancy. It most commonly occurs during the first trimester. Symptoms may start as early as 6 weeks and are usually gone by 14 weeks of pregnancy.
Morning sickness is rarely severe enough to cause harm, although some females do have a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum that may require medical treatment.
There are a number of home remedies you can try to alleviate your nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
While females who have morning sickness have been shown to have a lower rate of miscarriage, there are many females with healthy pregnancies who do not have morning sickness at all.
If you’re concerned about your nausea (or lack thereof), it is always a good idea to give your doctor a call. They are there to keep you and your growing baby as safe and healthy as possible!
In the meantime, kick up your feet, take a deep breath, and sip some ginger tea. The sickness will be over before you know it, and you’ll be closer than ever to meeting your new little one!