Morning sickness is a very common symptom of early pregnancy. The majority of pregnant women—at least 50%, but possibly up to as many as 75%—experience at least some morning sickness. If you’re wondering why you feel so bad and when you’ll feel better, read on.
What is morning sickness?
Morning sickness is nausea (often accompanied by vomiting) experienced during pregnancy. Your midwife or OB GYN might note it in your chart as nausea gravidarum or nausea/vomiting of pregnancy (NVP).
Typically, morning sickness includes waves of nausea that are strongest upon waking up and throughout the morning (that’s where the name comes from), but women often experience nausea any time they have an empty stomach. Symptoms can often occur throughout the day and at night as well.
Some women experience morning sickness as only strikes of nausea, without vomiting. Other women vomit, anywhere from occasionally to frequently.
When do you get morning sickness?
In general, morning sickness starts early in pregnancy—around the sixth week after conception, though it can show up earlier. Some women may feel morning sickness before even taking a pregnancy test.Despite its name, morning sickness can occur at any time of the day or night. Most women feel better by the middle of the fourth month of pregnancy, though some women with severe morning sickness may experience it throughout their entire pregnancy.
What causes morning sickness?
No one knows exactly what causes morning sickness, but many experts believe it’s related to the rising hormone levels in your body.
Another theory is that it’s an adaptation to protect both mom and baby from eating foods that might be dangerously contaminated with bacteria.
The fact that your sense of smell has become more sensitive probably isn’t helping either. Some odors can trigger nausea and send women running to the nearest bathroom
Is morning sickness dangerous?
Though it’s certainly not pleasant, morning sickness is not harmful for you or your baby unless you are unable to keep anything down for a long time. Fortunately, most women will only suffer mild to moderate morning sickness.
Although rare, some women do suffer from a dangerous type of morning sickness: hyperemesis gravidarum. If your morning sickness is severe and you are vomiting a great deal, not gaining weight, or getting dehydrated, you need to contact your health care provider immediately.
Remember to take your prenatal vitamin to help ensure you get the nutrients you need even if you’re not able to keep your food down.
What can I do to feel better?
Read our article, “How to Relieve Morning Sickness” for 10 ways to relieve your symptoms. Here are a few more ideas not covered in that article:
Avoid foods that make you feel sick.
Some of the more likely suspects include: foods with strong smells; spicy, fatty, fried, or acidic foods. Bland foods like crackers, rice, pasta, and bread are often most appealing, but foods high in protein have been shown to help with nausea.
Ask someone else to cook.
Strong smells and warm rooms can make your symptoms worse. Let your partner cook while you take a much-needed nap!
Eat smaller meals.
Small, frequent meals are less likely to make you sick than fewer big meals. Try to eat every three hours or so.
Drink plenty of water, especially if you’ve been vomiting a lot, but remember—small sips are best when you’re feeling nauseated. You might also try relaxing with a cup of tea. Tea for Two is specially formulated to help relieve morning sickness.
Try taking your prenatal vitamin with food.
Some women may have trouble with their prenatal on an empty stomach.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but exercise can help decrease your symptoms.
Morning sickness is no fun, but it won’t last forever. Soon you’ll be feeling better and ready to eat more than rice and crackers.