Morning Sickness: When Does It Start?

  Photo by  Daria Nepriakhina  on  Unsplash
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina  on Unsplash

When does morning sickness start?

About half of all expecting women suffer from morning sickness, nausea, and vomiting at some point during their pregnancy. The name “morning sickness” is completely false because some women end up having to deal with nausea morning, noon, and night. Each woman (and each of her pregnancies) is completely different, so symptoms can vary greatly. For most women, morning sickness usually begins in or around the sixth week of pregnancy.

What causes it?

Doctors are unsure what causes nausea during pregnancy but believe that increased hormone levels are likely the culprit. The hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) rises rapidly during pregnancy. Women who are carrying multiples have higher levels of hCG in their system, and therefore, are more likely to have nausea and vomiting.

Other causes of morning sickness are a sensitive stomach, stress, and an increased sense of smell. Many pregnant women notice a heightened sense of smell early in their pregnancy, and certain aromas can be downright gag-inducing.

Who gets it?

Women who are pregnant with twins or more multiples are more likely to feel nauseous. This is likely due to higher levels of hCG, estrogen, and other hormones. However, some moms of multiples may experience little or no nausea.

Women who’ve had a history of nausea or vomiting as a side effect of taking birth controls may have an adverse response to the estrogen in the medication and may have morning sickness during their pregnancy as a result of increased estrogen levels.

Although every pregnancy is different, women who have a history of morning sickness during previous pregnancies are likely to have it again. Some doctors think there’s a genetic link as well; if a woman’s mother or sisters had morning sickness, then there’s a chance she will, too.

Not all women struggle with morning sickness, and not everyone has the same experience. Some women may only feel queasy occasionally and never throw up, while others feel nauseous all day long.

So when does it end?

Thankfully, for most women, the period of morning sickness ends somewhere between week 12 and week 14. However, some women continue to experience morning sickness into the second trimester, and even well into the third.

How can you cope?

If you have a mild case of morning sickness, some of the following strategies may help to alleviate your symptoms.

Eat small, frequent meals or snack a lot throughout the day so that your stomach doesn’t get empty. If your morning sickness really does strike in the morning, it helps to keep snacks like crackers (or animal crackers!) by your bed so that you can nibble on them first thing in the morning.

Try to avoid foods or smells that seem to trigger the nauseous feeling in the pit of your stomach. You also want to avoid spicy, sour, and fried foods that may upset your stomach. Even if it doesn’t seem like a balanced, well-rounded diet, just eat what you can for the time being.

When you’re done eating, brush your teeth or rinse your mouth out to get rid of any aftertaste. Avoid lying down (especially on your leftside) because this can slow down digestion, triggering an upset stomach.

Try to drink fluids between meals. If you don’t like drinking a lot of plain water, try something that’s easy to keep down, like ginger ale or decaffeinated tea. However, don’t drink so much that you feel full; that will make you feel less hungry for food, and you need your nutrients now more than ever!

Speaking of nutrients, check your prenatal vitamin. Some women find that they feel nauseated if if their prenatal vitamin contains a lot of iron. If that’s the case, take your vitamins with food or right before you go to bed. If you still seem to have trouble, ask your doctor if there’s anything you can do to avoid the sickening side effects.

Ginger is a great way to soothe an upset stomach. If you drink ginger ale, you have to find a brand that uses real ginger. You can also drink ginger tea. Some women find relief in peppermint tea as well. You can also suck on peppermint candies, and some women seem to think that sour candies can help, too.

You can also wear a seasickness band on your wrist. The band works by using acupressure: you slide the band over your hand and a smooth plastic button pushes against an acupressure point on the inside of your wrist. Some research suggests that these wristbands are placebos, but many women (me included!) swear by them.

If you can’t seem to find anything that helps, talk with your doctor about the possibility of treating your morning sickness with anti-nausea medication.

What complications can morning sickness cause?

Most cases of morning sickness are mild to moderate, and won’t threaten your baby’s development. If you don’t gain weight during the first trimester, it’s not really a problem as long as you are staying hydrated, attempting to eat regularly, and taking your prenatal vitamin. Most of the time, once the morning sickness subsides, your appetite returns and you will start to gain weight.

If your nausea and vomiting are so severe that you can’t keep anything down, you may have a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum.

What is hyperemesis gravidarum?

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe case of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy which results in lack of nutrition, weight loss, dehydration, and in some situations, an imbalance in electrolyte levels. Severe cases often require a hospital stay so that the mother can receive IV fluids and medications.

Talk to your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea that develops after the 9th week of pregnancy
  • Weight loss of two pounds or more
  • Nausea and vomiting that lasts into the 5th month of pregnancy
  • Vomiting blood
  • Feeling dizzy when you stand up
  • Signs of dehydration (dark colored urine, infrequent need to urinate)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Headaches

Even if your case of morning sickness isn’t that severe, it can still be miserable. Remember that it should eventually pass. In the meantime, take it easy and take good care of yourself – and your baby!

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