The early weeks of pregnancy can be an exciting and confusing time. You’re beginning a journey that involves many physical and emotional changes and it’s not always easy to know how you’ll feel from one day to the next. But we’re here to help you understand the changes you’re going through, and morning sickness can be one of the most noticeable.
Morning sickness is a feeling of nausea that many women experience during pregnancy. We’ll cover what to expect – and what you can do to find some relief – from this common pregnancy symptom.
When does morning sickness usually begin and end?
If you’re one of the many pregnant women who experience morning sickness, you may start feeling nauseous somewhere around the sixth week of your pregnancy, typically two weeks after your first missed period. Symptoms can appear gradually, or seem to happen overnight. Morning sickness can range from a mild aversion to certain smells or foods, to persistent nausea and vomiting in severe cases.
Morning sickness usually peaks between weeks 8-11, and typically fades by the end of the first trimester. However, some women can experience it well into their second and even third trimester.
If your morning sickness lasts beyond your first trimester, you may be more sensitive to the nauseating effects of hormonal changes during pregnancy. Or you may just have a more delicate stomach. But it never hurts to bring up your morning sickness with your doctor.
What’s causing my morning sickness?
While the exact cause of morning sickness isn't well understood, many doctors believe it’s hormonal in nature. The pregnancy hormone hCG reaches its highest level around the same time morning sickness is most severe, and increases in the hormones estrogen and progesterone can make it harder for your body to digest food.
Is my morning sickness unusual?
Don’t be fooled by the name: Unfortunately morning sickness can strike at any time and last all day. At least 70% of women experience some degree of morning sickness in the first trimester, and no two women experience it in the same way. Some women who had morning sickness in their first pregnancy won’t have any nausea at all in their second, and vice-versa.
It’s natural to wonder about whether your nausea and loss of appetite could be harmful to the baby. But rest assured, if you’re still able to eat and stay hydrated, the baby will still get all the needed nutrients. In rare and severe cases of morning sickness, your doctor will work to ensure that you and baby are getting the necessary nutrition and hydration to stay healthy.
Should I see my doctor about my morning sickness?
If you’re throwing up more than two to three times a day and aren’t able to keep anything down, you may have hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), a form of severe morning sickness. Some cases can be treated with pressure-point wristbands, like those worn to prevent motion sickness. In other cases you might need medication, bed rest or intravenous (IV) fluids to help reduce or eliminate symptoms.
Many women wait to take action when it comes to severe morning sickness because they’ve been told it’s normal. That’s why it’s important to know the signs of HG. Talk to your doctor right away if you are vomiting so much that you:
- Become persistently dehydrated
- Can’t keep any foods or liquids down for 24 hours
- Feel weak, dizzy and/or lightheaded
- Lose three or more pounds of weight in a week
It’s important to know what’s normal and what’s not. If you have any concerns about your morning sickness, our experienced team of OB-GYNs and midwives can help you get personalized care that’s right for you.
What can I do to find relief from nausea?
You don’t have to tough it out and wait for the day your morning sickness subsides. There are plenty of simple, safe and effective strategies you can try to combat nausea.
Eat smaller meals throughout the day
Having an empty stomach for too long can make anyone feel sick. Eating small snacks throughout the day in between larger meals can keep you from feeling queasy. But remember, eating too much can make you feel just as nauseous. It’s all about finding a balance that will keep you feeling good.
Try the B.R.A.T. diet
If you can’t seem to find anything that agrees with you, try these foods that are bland and easy to digest: bananas, rice, applesauce and toast.
Experiment with different temperatures
You may have an easier time eating or drinking ice cold foods and beverages, or your stomach may feel calmer after a hot meal. Room temperature or warm food and drinks can sometimes cause nausea.
Keep a morning sickness record
What time of day does nausea strike? What are you doing when it does? By tracking your symptoms, you just might identify triggers that make you queasy, like certain foods or smells, so you can avoid them going forward.
Pack the essentials
If morning sickness does end up causing you to vomit, you can make it easier by carrying a few supplies with you. A toothbrush and toothpaste, mouthwash, a backup shirt and even a plastic bag can stop morning sickness from derailing your day.
Ask your doctor
These remedies may not work for everyone, and there are other solutions for more persistent symptoms. Talk to a doctor about anti-nausea medications that are safe to take while pregnant.
While morning sickness can be a challenging part of any pregnancy, it’s also a sign that your body is doing what it needs to support your growing baby. That said, you shouldn’t have to suffer through nausea that interferes with your daily life and your ability to be present at work or with your family.
Fortunately, there’s help available to make your pregnancy a bit smoother. If you’d like to explore your options for improving symptoms of nausea, our OB-GYNs and midwives are here to help.