Morning sickness, otherwise known as nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, is a common early sign of pregnancy. Is this something that you should worry about? Let’s know more about morning sickness including its causes, symptoms, relief and when will it need treatment.
What is morning sickness?
Morning sickness is a term used to describe nausea and vomiting that pregnant women often experience during their first weeks after conception. Though it is most likely experienced in the morning, pregnant women may also have it anytime of the day.
What causes morning sickness?
The exact cause of morning sickness is still being figured out, but a recent study by the geneticists in the University of Southern California found a link between heredity and hyperemesis gravidarum (the severe form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy).
Furthermore, the researchers discovered that a certain code for the protein called GDF15 is produced in huge amounts by the placenta. This protein code has receptors found in the area of the brain which is responsible for the stimulation of vomiting and decreasing a person’s appetite.
Other causes that may be contributing to nausea and vomiting of pregnancy are the following:
- Increased levels of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) which is released by the placenta.
- High levels of the hormone progesterone.
- Decreased blood pressure.
- Physical and metabolic changes due to pregnancy.
What does morning sickness feel like?
Pregnant women widely differ in how they experience morning sickness symptoms. Basically, morning sickness is the layman’s term for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Some women may only experience nausea or the feeling that you are about to throw up, while others may have it along with actual vomiting.
Alongside, many pregnant women claim that they also feel dizzy and fatigued, lost their appetite, and find it difficult to get out of bed, especially in the morning. These might be the reasons why the condition has been popularly termed as morning sickness.
However, the term morning sickness can be a bit misleading. Some moms-to-be experience it all day long while others experience morning sickness at night instead. You may also feel nauseous in response to the scent of certain foods.
While around 50 to 90 percent of pregnant moms experience morning sickness during their first trimester, it tends to be more evident to some moms-to-be. The symptoms are more evident to pregnant women who are:
- Fatigued and emotionally stressed
- Expecting twins or multiples
- Traveling a lot
- Has a history of nausea and vomiting while taking contraceptive pills
- Has a family member who also has morning sickness while pregnant
When does morning sickness start?
Morning sickness is an early symptom that commonly begins during week 6 of pregnancy. However, some women have this symptom in as early as week 4 of pregnancy.
To have a much clearer picture of how soon does morning sickness start, it is important to take note that the day 1 of pregnancy is counted from the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). The actual time of conception can’t be precisely detected, so counting from the first day of your menstrual flow will give you and the health care team a more accurate basis.
Ovulation is estimated to happen roughly 2 weeks after your LMP. This means that you have more likely conceived during week 3, but you don’t have an idea about it yet because you’re still expecting your period on week 4. After missing your period and feeling a bit nauseous, you might now be considering that you got pregnant!
So going back, morning sickness typically kicks in as early as the week 4 to 6 of pregnancy or just 2 weeks to a month after you actually conceived. So if you suddenly feel nauseous after you missed your period, then it can be considered as an early sign of pregnancy.
How long does morning sickness last?
Since it will turn your stomach upside down, you might be wondering, when does morning sickness end?
Morning sickness usually peaks at weeks 9 to 10, but hang in there! The good news is that it will typically subside on your second trimester, specifically, weeks 12 to 14 of pregnancy. Only a small percentage, including moms who are expecting twins, may experience the symptoms towards their 2nd and 3rd trimester.
What helps with morning sickness?
Since morning sickness is a normal sign of pregnancy, you’ll expect it to go away soon. However, it doesn’t mean that you must go through it alone. Here are some ways to help relieve or at least minimize morning sickness among pregnant moms.
How to minimize morning sickness
Avoid food triggers.
A common trigger to nausea and vomiting are food aversions. These are the food items that you seem to dislike by the time you got pregnant. If you seem to feel uncomfortable smelling, seeing, or eating certain foods, stay away from them for a while.
Greasy, spicy, and processed foods are another culprit. These foods are harder to digest, irritates the stomach, and may make morning sickness worse.
It is essential to have a well-balanced meal that consists of fruits, veggies, protein, and carbohydrates. Ask your doctor for advice regarding alternative sources of nutrients for your food aversions so that your nutrition won’t be compromised.
Not full, not empty
Eating small, frequent meals is often advised for people with nausea and vomiting. Eating frequently in small portions rather than consuming three full meals helps ease stomach upset to most pregnant moms.
Before you get out of bed, have something to eat like plain crackers. It may help relieve your morning queasiness. Similarly, eat some light snacks throughout the day and when you wake up in the middle of the night. This way, your stomach acids won’t end up irritating your stomach lining and triggering nausea.
Move out of bed slowly
Getting up and out of bed abruptly may not only trigger the nauseous feeling, but it will also make you prone to accidents and injuries. Get up slowly and dangle your feet for a while before you actually get out of bed. This will minimize dizziness and gives your body a bit more time to adjust to the shift of gravity before you stand up and walk.
Morning sickness remedies
This spice is found to help relieve nausea to many pregnant moms. There are a variety of ways to use ginger as a morning sickness remedy:
- Sniffing raw ginger
- Ginger tea (grated ginger in hot water)
- Ginger in sweet syrup base (commercial stores)
- FDA-approved ginger capsules
- Crystallized ginger
- Lozenges (we recommend the brand Tummy Drops!)
This refreshing drink is not only a thirst-quencher, it may also help minimize nausea. The taste and scent of lemons may soothe your upset tummy.
For some moms, eating or smelling mint can provide morning sickness relief. It can offer a fresher breath after throwing up too. That’s a win-win!
Fruit and vegetable smoothies are a nice alternative if your tummy can’t tolerate meals as of the moment. Smoothies can act as natural antacids to combat your queasiness.
Vitamin B6 supplement
Your prenatal vitamins may taste a bit awkward but it’s essential not to forget every dose. In fact, one of its components is Vitamin B6 which is found to help relieve nausea.
An alternative remedy is acupressure. It is believed that an acupressure point in the wrist can help ease your stomach upset and queasiness.
You can try putting firm pressure on your wrist using your fingers. Press the area just above your pulse for a couple of minutes and see if it helps.
Alternately, you may opt to wear an acupressure wristlet or wristband. These wearable items can provide mild pressure on the acupressure point of your wrist.
Tips to prevent complications from morning sickness
Drinking enough fluids is essential all throughout pregnancy, especially during the time that you are nauseated and vomiting. Dehydration can worsen the problem so make sure to replace the fluids that you lost.
Those stomach acids and food debris can ruin your teeth, so make sure you clean and rinse them regularly, especially in between episodes of vomiting.
For some women, their toothpaste can trigger nausea, making them feel hesitant to brush their teeth regularly. If your usual toothpaste flavor seems intolerable, try to find an alternative brand with a milder taste and scent, or simply brush your teeth with plain water every time you throw up. You may also ask your dentist for a mild mouthwash instead.
When to seek help for your morning sickness
Though morning sickness is pretty common, the severity of symptoms greatly varies per individual. In some cases, pregnant women experience severe morning sickness which is medically termed as hyperemesis gravidarum. It would be best to seek consultation if you have the following symptoms:
- Difficulty taking in foods and fluids for the entire 24 hours
- Dark-colored urine
- Frequent dizziness
- Severe vomiting
Hyperemesis gravidarum may compromise your health, so it needs prompt medical treatment. Never take any medications claiming to relieve nausea and vomiting without your doctor’s recommendation. Medications that are not used properly may have harmful side effects for your baby.
Morning sickness is a typical early sign of pregnancy but the symptoms vary between each person. Though it is a normal part of your pregnancy journey, there are various ways that can help ease your discomforts. So if you are struggling to get over your queasiness right now, don’t be shy to ask for help.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or licensed medical professional before making any medical decisions.