No one enjoys being sick, but the infamous morning sickness might bring with it the good news you have been waiting for. So, particularly, in this case, sickness is not all bad. Morning sickness is one of the first and typical early pregnancy symptoms. It is rarely serious but can be quite unpleasant.
A person with morning sickness feels tired and nauseous and may vomit repeatedly. The intensity of the symptoms varies considerably from one pregnancy to another. Around 70-80% of all pregnant women are affected by morning sickness.
So, here’s what you want to know – when exactly your morning sickness will start, and for how long it will torment you, disrupting all your routines?
When does morning sickness start?
Typically, morning sickness starts around 4-6 weeks of pregnancy which is also the time around which most of the pregnancy tests come positive. Most women get the condition between the early first trimester and early-mid second trimester.
Medically, morning sickness during pregnancy is known as nausea and vomiting of pregnancy or simply NVP, which is a more apt term because it can appear any time during the day and not only in the morning.
Gestational vomiting has been linked to various metabolic and neuromuscular factors, but the exact cause is still unknown. A temporal relationship between hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and morning sickness might be suggested considering that the peak of both hCG production and NVP lies between 12 and 14 weeks of gestation. But more studies are needed to establish the theory.
Typically, morning sickness during pregnancy starts by 2-4 weeks after fertilization ( around the 4th- 6th week of pregnancy), The symptoms reach the peak by 9 and 16 weeks of gestation and usually resolves by 22 weeks of gestation.
But some women might experience NVP as early as 4 weeks or as late as 8 -10 weeks. So, if you are experiencing it early or you do not have morning sickness even during your early pregnancy, there is usually nothing to worry about.
It is important to understand that the feeling of nausea, vomiting, and tiredness can appear anytime during the day or may last throughout the day. In as many as 98% of women with NVP, the symptoms last throughout the day.
When will my morning sickness stop?
The persistent feeling of nausea or repeated vomiting and uneasiness can be stressful for any pregnant woman. For most women, it stops by 14 weeks of pregnancy without any specific medical intervention, and life mostly gets back to normal for the majority.
Predominantly, the symptoms disappear during the first trimester, but for a subgroup of women (up to 10%), NVP might continue throughout the pregnancy, which can severely affect the quality of life of the patient. It can lead to depression, problems with managing regular official or household responsibilities, and increased odds for high blood pressure.
If the symptoms are severe, talk to your doctor, who might prescribe you medications to manage the symptoms. Morning sickness is a natural part of pregnancy, and most women overcome it without many complications.
Risk factors for morning sickness
Every pregnant woman does not experience morning sickness in the same intensity. You are at more risk of experiencing severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP) if:
- Your mother had a similar history during her pregnancy
- You’re pregnant at a younger age
- You are generally prone to nausea and vomiting
- You’re obese, or your body weight is more than it should be
- You are carrying twins or multiple gestations
- You have a history of migraine headaches
Studies have found, a higher daily intake of total fat, specifically saturated fat, prior to pregnancy increases the risk of NVP.
Morning sickness remedies
It is important to understand that there are no straight-cut treatments for morning sickness and generally, women can carry on with their daily routine with minor modifications during this period.
The home remedies for the condition help to manage the symptoms and many pregnant women have found these quite effective. Follow these remedies in your day-to-day routine to manage the symptoms efficiently.
Eat smaller meals
Eating small meals at frequent intervals instead of 2 or 3 large meals a day often helps to mitigate the symptoms, particularly nausea and vomiting. Taking frequent meals ensures that your stomach is not empty any time of the day.
If you are suffering from morning sickness, break your meal into smaller portions and eat throughout the day, instead of following a fixed meal time.
Drinking sufficient water is essential to ensure that your body is not dehydrated. Dehydration can trigger queasiness and fatigue. Taking plenty of water and other fluids, like fresh fruit juices, throughout the day is highly recommended.
But, do not drink a lot of liquid at one time. Continue sipping on water throughout the day.
Eat a healthy diet
This is one of the most important things which will not only help you with morning sickness but also ensure a healthy pregnancy. Instead of just eating what’s available or what you like, plan your diet with proper nutrients.
Make sure that your daily diet includes sufficient amounts of fiber, carbs, and proteins. A nutrient-rich meal helps the body to stay healthy and manage the ongoing pregnancy-related changes more efficiently.
Your daily diet should include fresh leafy and colorful vegetables. Eat raw foods like sprouts and salad. Avoiding spicy foods and foods with excess fat is always a good choice. Eat foods that are easy to digest and are good for your body.
Naps can be magical
Small naps during the day not only help one to focus better but can also be an effective way to manage the various symptoms of morning sickness. Take small naps in between work. This will help your body and mind to relax.
Small naps also help to ease stress and tension which are harmful to pregnancy. So, when you feel tired or queasy, planning a short nap can do a lot of good.
Drink ginger tea
Ginger tea might be helpful to mitigate the symptoms of morning sickness. Though there is no scientific study based on evidence, women suffering from this condition, often find ginger tea quite helpful.
Replacing your morning coffee or milk tea with ginger tea is always a healthy choice and is easier on your stomach.
Avoid strong smell
According to studies, a strong smell often triggers nausea and vomiting in women with morning sickness. So, avoiding any strong smell can be helpful.
That means not only odor but also perfumes and the flavour of different foods that you might enjoy otherwise.
The use of essential oils or acupuncture therapy is often suggested for relaxing the body and calming the mind, which might help with morning sickness.
But, before you go for any of these, it is best to consult an expert in the field or your doctor.
Avoid the following
Avoiding smoking and alcohol might help to reduce the symptoms of morning sickness. Alcohol dehydrates the body and dehydration alone can be the reason for feeling tired and nauseous.
Do not eat or drink anything that does not go well with your system in general
Vitamin supplements and prenatal vitamins might be helpful to mitigate the severity of the symptoms. Medicines like antihistamines, phenothiazine, or antacids might be helpful to manage the symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and acid reflux.
Talk to your doctor, and he might suggest a few of these depending on your condition.
When to see the doctor?
If your symptoms are mild and manageable with the home remedies, you really need not visit your doctor just for morning sickness. But if your symptoms are severe or if it is hampering your daily life or causing excess stress, it’s time to see your doctor.
Seek immediate medical attention if:
- The symptoms are severe and persisting throughout the day
- You are passing minimum urine, and the color is dark
- You are not able to drink or eat sufficiently
- There are symptoms of high blood pressure
- You are feeling stressed and depressed
- There is dizziness or fainting after standing up
- Your heart is racing
- You are losing weight rapidly
- Your vomit has an unlikely color
- The morning sickness has not eased even in the fourth month of pregnancy
Women with severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy may have Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), a condition distinct from NVP, that leads to dehydration and the inability to keep anything down without vomiting. It needs immediate medical intervention. If the symptoms are severe and you are experiencing any or some of the symptoms mentioned above, immediate medical attention is necessary. If left untreated, it can lead to fetal or even maternal morbidity.
Morning sickness during pregnancy which is generally characterized by nausea and vomiting is an early pregnancy condition that can be minimal to moderate or severe from one pregnancy to another. Medically, morning sickness is called nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP) as it can occur any time during the day and also throughout the day.
Generally, the symptoms of morning sickness are manageable with home remedies and some lifestyle changes. Your doctor might suggest some added medication to handle the symptoms. Morning sickness is common during the first trimester, but it can be persisting in some pregnancies. The symptoms might be severe on some days and completely absent on others.
If your symptoms are severe, or if it is hampering your life-quality, talk to your doctor.
- Lee NM, Saha S. Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy. Gastroenterology Clinics of North America. 2011;40(2):309-334. doi:10.1016/j.gtc.2011.03.009
- Zur E. Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy: a review of the pathology and compounding opportunities. International journal of pharmaceutical compounding. 2013;17(2).
- Hasler WL, Soudah HC, Dulai G, Owyang C. Mediation of hyperglycemia-evoked gastric slow-wave dysrhythmias by endogenous prostaglandins. Gastroenterology. 1995;108(3):727-736. doi:10.1016/0016-5085(95)90445-x
- Bustos M, Venkataramanan R, Caritis S. Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy – What’s new? Autonomic Neuroscience. 2017;202:62-72. doi:10.1016/j.autneu.2016.05.002
- Chortatos A, Haugen M, Iversen PO, et al. Pregnancy complications and birth outcomes among women experiencing nausea only or nausea and vomiting during pregnancy in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 2015;15(1). doi:10.1186/s12884-015-0580-6
- MA; Saturated fat intake and the risk of severe hyperemesis gravidarum. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass). 2011;9(6).