Morning sickness is the nausea and vomiting that can occur during pregnancy. Although many women experience it in the morning, it can actually occur at any point in the day, and can last all day in some cases.
Morning sickness is a very common and perfectly normal experience for pregnant women, and does not cause harm to the baby. The nausea is likely caused by the rapid increase of pregnancy hormones in the bloodstream. Mild morning sickness will usually go away on its own without causing any lasting harm, but severe morning sickness could lead to a loss of fluids and body weight in the long term.
How Long Does Morning Sickness Last?
Morning sickness is most common during the first trimester of pregnancy. Most pregnant women start feeling regularly nauseated at 4-6 weeks gestation – for some women, a bout of morning sickness may be the first time they realize they are pregnant!
Unfortunately, morning sickness usually gets worse before it gets better, and clears up around the 14 week mark. In rare cases, the nausea and vomiting can last throughout the entire pregnancy.
Can Morning Sickness Be Treated?
There’s no surefire way to stop morning sickness, but there are some tips you can try to minimize symptoms.
- Stay away from pungent odors
- Snack on plain crackers soon after waking up and before getting out of bed
- Eat light meals throughout the day (5 or 6 snacks instead of 3 full meals), and eat them slowly
- Do not lie down immediately after eating
- Avoid fatty, acidic, and spicy foods. Eat meals at room temperature, as hot food tends to smell more strongly
- Drink fluids between meals
- Suck on ginger chews or sip cold gingerale to relieve nausea
- Try lighting aromatherapy candles. Citrus and mint tend to be helpful.
Some women have found hypnosis or acupuncture to be helpful in relieving nausea and vomiting. Consult with your OB-GYN before undergoing any new treatment or taking new medicine.
What if My Morning Sickness Is Severe?
If your symptoms are severe, you may become dehydrated in the short term and lose body weight in the long term. Seek care from your OB-GYN if you:
- Can’t keep anything down, even water or medications
- Have lost two or more pounds
- Vomit blood
- Experience stomach pain
- Feel dizzy or faint when you stand
- Develop a headache, fever, or swelling in the neck
You may have a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. Your doctor can prescribe you anti-nausea medication and rehydrate you with an IV. You may need to be hospitalized for a few days to monitor your health.