Morning sickness is often the first, and most common sign many expecting moms experience when they become pregnant. It typically starts around the 6th week but can appear later in pregnancy and sometimes even stay through most of it.
Pregnancy nausea can be extremely debilitating and hard to deal with for many women, often leading them to make unhealthy choices such as not eating or eating poorly causing issues for the expectant mom.
Although it might seem like the world is ending as you sit with your face over a plastic bag waiting to puke for the fourth time in that hour, there are some things you try to do to alleviate your discomfort and that’s what we are here for today.
Let’s break down the what’s, how’s and why’s of morning sickness and then we can jump into how to fix it’s.
What is morning sickness?
The term “morning sickness” is a bit misleading, because despite its name it, implies that nausea and vomiting may expectant moms experience are confined to one time of day or even just in the mornings. In fact, many women experience some degree of morning sickness throughout their entire pregnancy and not just in the day or night of the first trimester. However it is most common that nausea and vomiting occur first thing in the morning, but they can also happen at other times of the day. Some people call this condition “pregnancy-related motion sickness,” which may be more accurate than “morning sickness.” There are much more severe cases, which are called hyperemesis gravidarum which will require medicine and can cause additional risk.
If you just heard that second heartbeat for the first time, or you know it’s been two for a while, you need to read our twin pregnancy week by week timeline to help you learn what happens week by week with twins. Click here to learn more… and while you’re at it, check out our expecting twins classes and twin parent coaching services.
Why do you get morning sickness?
No one knows exactly what causes morning sickness. However, there are several theories as to why this happens. One theory suggests that hormones released during early pregnancy cause an increase in serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin plays a role in regulating moods and feelings of well-being. When serotonin levels rise too high, they may trigger nausea and other unpleasant sensations.
In the case of most morning sickness, it could be that your body is reacting to changes in hormone levels. Hormones are released during pregnancy and bring about many different bodily reactions. These hormones may trigger morning sickness because they affect the digestive system or how you process certain foods.
Are there different types of morning sickness?
There are two main types of morning sickness: hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) which has more severe symptoms, severe nausea, and vomiting while good ol’ morning sickness which most pregnant women experience with fairly typical nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.
You might experience persistent vomiting in your first trimester which can happen with morning sickness. Nausea and vomiting can occur day or night and can cause dehydration, malnutrition, weight loss or gain, or other health problems. It can sometimes be a sign of an underlying condition so you should never dismiss anything you are feeling during your pregnancy.
If you have Hyperemesis gravidarum you’ll see that your severe morning sickness can cause malnutrition, weight loss, fatigue, muscle aches, and other symptoms more severe than the common morning sickness. This causes additional risk factors and may actually cause a pregnant mom to be admitted into the hospital for additional fluids IV fluids when necessary.
Does severe morning sickness mean I’m pregnant with twins?
No. morning sickness is not an accurate way to predict the number of babies you are carrying, even if it seems like a lot more than what’s normal. It also doesn’t mean that having morning sickness means your pregnancy will be high-risk or dangerous; morning sickness can happen at any time during pregnancy and no matter how many children you are carrying this pregnancy.
How is morning sickness diagnosed?
Your health care team evaluates the signs and symptoms of morning sickness during your pregnancy and those may include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness or lightheadedness, headache, heartburn, diarrhea, sensitivity to smells, decreased appetite, decreased urination. Seek treatment right away regardless of what time of the day you are experiencing these symptoms. Now you might not experience nausea AND vomiting, you may experience nausea OR vomiting. Not everyone has both in their pregnancy.
Symptoms of Morning Sickness
Symptoms of morning sickness typically begin when you’re around 6 weeks pregnant but some mothers find there’s a nausea boost between seven weeks and 9 weeks. The annoying pregnancy symptom that is morning sickness most usually disappears at the beginning of the second trimester, around 12 weeks. There’s no surefire way to prevent morning sickness, but you might want to start monitoring if there are certain triggers that make it worse. Also, if this isn’t your first rodeo and you’ve had a previous pregnancy and did experience morning sickness, guess what, you can expect it again.
How long does morning sickness last?
Nausea generally subsides around week 12 to 16 of pregnancy. Symptoms typically appear worst between weeks 10 to 16. Some women have symptoms even into the second trimester. Occasionally people may experience morning sickness during their pregnancy especially those pregnant with twins. For pregnant women, the symptoms may include vomiting and nausea. If morning sickness persists, you may have a more severe issue called hyperemesis gravidarum which will require more medical intervention. There is no typical time for how long hyperemesis gravidarum or general nausea can last in pregnancy. Sometimes morning sickness can last a few minutes, sometimes hours. I know. Don’t hate us, it stinks.
Is it Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
Hyperemesis gravidarum during pregnancy would be diagnosed by your doctor because you are experiencing severe morning sickness. If you have Hyperemesis gravidarum you may also have an electrolyte imbalance and this may need to be treated with medicine. Many women who experience this in their pregnancy have to take a break from work and seek advice from their doctor on if going on some type of short-term disability is necessary. Many times the treatment might be slight and require you to have visits with a nutritionist to go over your diet, and other times your doctor may just tell you to rest. Whatever you do, do not take any medication without consulting your medical professional.
Is it normal to have morning sickness one day and not the next?
Totally, one of the “joys” of pregnancy is its unpredictableness. You may have signs and symptoms one day and feel like a million bucks the next. You may run the bathroom feeling sick ten times a day while the next you may be the idol of other pregnant women with your glowing skin and smile to match. Yup! You can’t predict how your stomach will feel and if certain smells are going to put you over the edge, or if today’s foods will be your BFF or enemy. It just goes along with the experience of having a baby.
Treatments for morning sickness
You are going to hate this answer too because it’s so vague, but every pregnancy will be different and while some things work for you, they might not for your bestie who also has a bun in the oven. Also, what works now, may not work as well for future pregnancies. It’s fun being a mom, no? While there are a lot of remedies you can try, if it gets real bad, rest assured that there actually are medicines that can do the trick. If you are experiencing a little stomach upset, your doctor just may tell you that an antacid is a treatment while others might have to be admitted into the hospital for dehydration. Every pregnancy is different, and that’s pretty much the only constant.
Can you prevent morning sickness?
There’s not much we can do to stop it once it starts. But doing simple things as we have outlined below may help your pregnancy:
Wear Sea Sickness wristlets
These small bracelets have a small knob-like button sewn into them that applies pressure into the inner part of your wrist, where your acupressure point is, which can help relieve nausea and therefore, vomiting. Speak to your health care team and If this is recommended for you. If these do help, it’s important that you drink plenty of fluids when the effects kick in and try to regain some of the fluid you may have lost if you had a lot of vomiting.
Keep your mouth clean
Regular brushing can help keep your mouth clean and get any nasty tastes out of there. After meals brush your teeth and or rinse your mouth with plain water. If you are experiencing any gum or tooth pain, this is a good time to speak with a dentist too. Getting a cleaning isn’t the worst advice you can get before you have your baby.
Rushing can increase your nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, too. Crawl into bed slower, get up slowly, and just move throughout your pregnancy slower. Easy movements can help your overall health as well because the slower you move, the more thoughtful you are, the less risk you’ll trip or worse. Even eating slower is the idea. Just being more purposeful in general during your first trimester will help you immensely.
Want to get weekly emails about your twin pregnancy? Sign up for the Twiniversity email list! Subscribe today to get emails about giveaways, events, weekly article roundups, and more! We’ll be sending you a weekly twin pregnancy email to keep you on track with your pregnancy to-do list! Click here to learn more… and while you’re at it, check out our expecting twins classes and personal twin parent coaching services.
Eat small meals throughout the day
Yeah, you and Thanksgiving might not be friends this year if your morning sickness is peaking. Eat foods in smaller portions, snack-size even, throughout the day to put less stress on your digestive system, and as gross as this sounds, the less in your stomach, the less nausea and vomiting you’ll have. (I told you it was gross). Think string cheese, a protein or granola bar, a half of a peanut butter sandwich. Think tiny. Small meals can help relieve the yuckiness in your belly. Yup. These are the joys of pregnancy!
Stop the Smell!
Ugh, if cigarette smoke, laundry detergent, candy apples, wet dog, garlic, cinnamon, or whatever smell makes you feel nauseous, make a note and obviously try to avoid that smell. If you if have to endure certain smells that are triggering your pukeyness, consider rubbing a little essential oil on your upper lip under your nose to mask the smell as much as possible. Avoiding your trigger smells is one of the best pieces of advice we can give you. This is easier to do but may require a bit of planning with having something to cover your face ready when you need it.
Drink water or weak tea when you feel nauseated. Avoid caffeinated beverages and carbonated drinks with sugar. When you get bored with the water, mix it up with slices of cucumber as if you’re at the spa, or some fresh lime like you might have had back in the day when that water was a vodka soda! Heck, add six limes! Go crazy! Just drink your water. Aim for a gallon a day, not at once, that will just make your belly worse, but sip and sip and sip and sip and sip. Plenty of fluids can make your morning symptoms of morning sickness better.
Take your vitamin with a meal
May pregnant women who take their prenatal vitamin without food sometimes experience nausea and vomiting even without officially having morning sickness, so don’t push it and take any medicine or vitamin with a meal at least. You may require a smaller pill if you are having trouble with that particular medicine. Ask your doctor if the size is taking a toll on your morning sickness. You may also want to ask your doc about vitamin b6 and if they think it would be beneficial during this pregnancy. Vitamin b6 is critical to your growing baby. So perhaps if you have way more issues with your vitamin than you expected, speak with your health care team and see if perhaps they can break down the components so you can get the ones you need most instead of taking an entire prenatal horse pill.
Yup, it’ sucks! Candy that is.
Suck on hard candy or sip ginger ale when morning sickness strikes. Ginger is good for morning sickness and can totally help relieve nausea and vomiting and actually has been used as a treatment for morning sickness nausea for hundreds of years. If this worked during a previous pregnancy, odds are it will work again too!
Why does everyone recommend products with ginger for morning sickness?
Ginger is an old time’y remedy for any issues with digestion and relieves morning sickness because it has a natural component that helps with the digestive response. Therefore, this special food may help stop morning sickness from becoming severe by settling your tummy fairly quickly. The more morning sickness is suppressed, the better you’ll feel and the lower your chances of vomiting or getting dehydrated are. Ginger also helps with nausea in general so it doesn’t have to be morning sickness-related. It’s actually good for seasickness and car sickness too.
You can have your ginger:
- Ground in capsules
- Grated in hot water as tea
- Cooked down in water with some sugar to make a syrup
- Crystalized like a candy that you can just pop in your mouth
- And the tried and true Ginger ale of course
You are NOT what you eat! You aren’t a BRAT!
While I know you are a wild and crazy expecting mama, eat outside of your personality. Think bland, easy-to-digest foods like rice, bananas, or ice pops. Try to stick to the BRAT Diet.
A-applesauce or similar fruit puree with fiber
T-toast and jam/jelly, if tolerated. You may also try baked potatoes without butter or sour cream. Plain crackers are a good option for morning sickness, too.
Avoid any trigger foods that you may have experienced at any time previous too. You may absolutely LOVE vanilla ice cream, but if every time you eat it, it makes you sick, yeah, you may have to put your vanilla ice cream love on hold for a minute. Food that you may have enjoyed in that previous pregnancy may be rejected by your stomach this time around.
Watch your weight too, if you find that it’s fluctuating up or down, speak to your doc. While you may even have issues with the foods of the BRAT diet, you might also have issues with dehydration, and that we need to watch out for.
Will morning sickness affect my baby?
Morning sickness is not harmful to the baby. It’s a common misconception that morning sickness can cause birth defects, miscarriages, or premature births.
What might cause harm to your baby is dehydration from morning sickness so it is important to keep your provider in the loop with regards to your morning sickness and fluid intake.
Need some twin parent friends? Get the support you need with a Twiniversity Membership. Benefits include a monthly twin parent club meeting on Zoom, access to a private Facebook group just for twin parents, and a video library of twin parenting lessons. Visit Twiniversity.com/membership to join today!
How can I help my partner if they have morning sickness?
Ok women, if you are reading this and you need to pass this over to the one next to you, go for it.
Hey there! Thanks for taking care of that stunning pregnant woman beside you. Listen, she is going through some stuff right now. Maybe you’ve noticed she’s running to the bathroom a few times a day, maybe she’s just super nauseous, or maybe she feels like she’s living in a constant state of motion sickness. Either way, there is something you can do.
First, get her a glass of water and tell her to sip it slowly. Keep her hydrated and try to keep her smiling. That’s the most important. While the way she is feeling, in her opinion, may be caused by a wild night on the town, or something a little more romantic or even non-traditional, just know that she needs you. Give her plenty of fluids and make sure she is happy with the foods on her plate.
If you are worried about her health, you need to tell her doc as well. You can see things differently than she can. She may not think she needs any treatment and this is just an upset stomach with nausea and vomiting, but you may see things differently. Please speak to each other and encourage her to tell you how she really feels and be her biggest support. You got this because you have her! Together you can do it all. Pregnancy is fun, no?
When to see a doctor
If you experience persistent nausea and vomiting, contact your doctor immediately. Your medical team will be able to determine whether this is normal morning sickness or if there’s something else going on. If you suspect you might have a serious medical problem, call 911 right away. Just because many women experience severe morning sickness during their pregnancy doesn’t mean that severe nausea and vomiting shouldn’t be addressed. When in doubt, call your doctor and explain what’s going on and let them be the judge if you need treatment and if you should go into the office or not. No matter if you are diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum or not, please follow whatever treatment is offered and stay close with your medical team.
What to do when you just can’t take it anymore?
Pregnancy is fast, believe it or not, and keeping your health, your baby and your sanity are critical. You got this. Many of us have been there, and we wish there was a quick pill you could take or a quick mantra you can say to make this all go away, but unfortunately there isn’t. Sometimes nausea or vomiting need to run its course. But what there is, is a community of other pregnant women in the same boat. Find your tribe. You’ll feel better.