What is morning sickness?
Morning sickness refers to the nausea and vomiting that some people have when they become pregnant. Morning sickness is very common in early pregnancy. It affects more than half of all pregnant people. A severe case of morning sickness is known as hyperemesis gravidarum.
How long will morning sickness last?
Morning sickness tends to go away later in pregnancy. It’s almost always gone by the second trimester (after 13 weeks, or during the fourth month). However, every person is different, and every pregnancy is different. So, there isn’t a set time that morning sickness may stop.
Will morning sickness hurt my baby?
Morning sickness can only become a problem for your baby if you can’t keep down any foods or fluids. It also may pose a problem if you begin to lose a lot of weight. You should call your doctor if you:
- Have lost more than 2 pounds
- Vomit blood (which can appear bright red or black)
- Have vomited more than 4 times in 1 day
- Have not been able to keep fluids down for more than 1 day
Symptoms of morning sickness are nausea and vomiting. These symptoms can occur before or after eating. They can be triggered by smells, movement from those around you, and sometimes by the sight of food.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s called morning sickness. Nausea can strike at any time of day or last throughout the day. It is more common in the morning. But morning sickness can occur even at night.
What causes morning sickness?
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes morning sickness, but it likely is caused by the sudden increase in hormones during pregnancy.
How is morning sickness diagnosed?
You don’t usually need a doctor to tell you that you have morning sickness. If you are several weeks pregnant and feeling nauseated, you probably have morning sickness.
Can morning sickness be prevented or avoided?
There is no proven method for preventing morning sickness. There are ways to lessen the symptoms of morning sickness. These include adjusting when you eat and what you eat. You also may want to evaluate your prenatal vitamin. The iron in your vitamin could be adding to your nausea.
Other tips include:
- Keep your mornings slow and calm.
- Avoid poorly ventilated spaces to eliminate the triggers of smells. This includes avoiding smoking (yourself and others).
- Reduce your stress and get as much sleep as you can.
Treatment usually isn’t necessary for morning sickness. But there are some things you can do to help feel better.
Tips to relieve morning sickness:
- Eat small meals throughout the day so that you’re never too full or too hungry.
- Avoid rich, spicy, greasy or fatty foods.
- Avoid foods with smells that bother you or make you nauseated.
- Eat more carbohydrates (plain baked potato, white rice, or dry toast).
- Eat bland foods when you feel nauseated (such as saltine crackers, gelatin desserts such as Jell-O, popsicles, chicken broth, ginger ale, and pretzels).
- The iron in prenatal vitamins can bother some women. If you think your morning sickness is related to your vitamins, talk with your doctor and they may change your vitamins.
- Before getting out of bed in the morning, eat a few saltine crackers to calm your stomach.
- Wearing “acupressure” wrist bands may help some women who have morning sickness. These are sometimes used by passengers on boats to prevent sea sickness. You can buy the bands at drugstores, boating stores, or travel agencies.
If these tips don’t provide some relief from morning sickness, talk to your doctor. Keep in mind that morning sickness does not mean your baby is sick.
Do not take any medicines for morning sickness without talking to your doctor first. They may be able to prescribe the medicine Diclegis, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating morning sickness. In severe cases, your doctor may admit you to the hospital for IV fluids and monitoring.
Living with morning sickness
Some people who have morning sickness are only nauseated. Other people experience nausea and vomiting as a part of morning sickness. Some people have mild symptoms. Other people have the most severe form of morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum.
No matter what type of morning sickness you have, staying nourished and hydrated is important. Try to continue to eat, even if you vomit afterward. Sometimes keeping your stomach full helps combat feelings of nausea.
Questions to ask your doctor
- I’m pregnant and I feel ill all the time. Is this normal?
- What can I do to help relieve my symptoms?
- What would be an indication that my morning sickness is putting my baby at risk?
- My morning sickness is severe. Do I need medicine?
- What are the risks and benefits of taking this medicine?
- I’m worried that my baby isn’t getting enough nutrients. Do I need a different prenatal vitamin? Should I make changes to my diet?
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.