What is morning sickness?
Morning sickness is a common side effect of pregnancy. Sometimes you can get morning sickness before you know you are pregnant. Typically, morning sickness starts in the sixth week of pregnancy which is about two weeks after your first missed period. About 70% of women experience morning sickness in their first trimester of pregnancy.
A common misconception about morning sickness is due to its name. Morning sickness can actually occur during any time of day. Morning sickness has been described to feel like seasickness. While it starts as early as the sixth week, it usually goes away by the 12th or 14th week, once you’ve reached the second trimester.
Morning sickness is caused by changing hormone levels and a heightened sense of smell. This can cause you to develop an aversion to certain scents and smells. Morning sickness can linger throughout the first trimester, making you feel constantly queasy, triggered by specific smells.
Signs and symptoms of morning sickness
Morning sickness occurs in the first trimester and can be an early sign that you are pregnant. When you get morning sickness, it can last and occur longer than just the morning. Common symptoms of morning sickness include:
Nausea and queasiness
Nausea is the main symptom of morning sickness. It can occur after you eat, when you smell specific scents, or remain throughout the day. Sometimes your nausea and queasiness can be so strong, usually in the morning, that it leads to vomiting.
Aversions to certain smells
Some scents may seem so powerful to you that they become overwhelming and can lead to nausea or vomiting. This can be food, perfume, or other strong scents. This is unique to each person and will develop as your pregnancy progresses.
Before you know that you’re pregnant, you might not understand why you are feeling seasick or carsick. This feeling may also be accompanied by hunger pains.
Causes of morning sickness
Morning sickness is a side effect of pregnancy but not all women get morning sickness and not all morning sickness occurs in the morning. Doctors do not know specifically what causes morning sickness but they do suspect some causes, such as:
Doctors believe that the increase of hormones can cause morning sickness. The pregnancy hormone hCG reaches its highest level when morning sickness is at its worst. The increase of estrogen and progesterone can also make it hard for your body to digest food properly.
Some people are more sensitive to nausea and an upset stomach which can make them more likely to have vomiting during pregnancy. If you have a sensitive stomach, you are more likely to experience morning sickness in your first trimester than those who don’t have a sensitive stomach.gastrointestinal problems, and when you are pregnant, you are more prone to morning sickness when you are stressed.
When to see the doctor for morning sickness
Morning sickness is a normal part of early pregnancy. There are methods of coping you can do at home. But if you are vomiting and your morning sickness is accompanied by the following symptoms you should schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately:
- Dark-colored urine or have not peed in more than 8 hours
- Blood or pain when you pee
- Unable to keep food or fluids down for 24 hours
- Feel weak, dizzy, or faint when standing up
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
Diagnosing morning sickness
If you feel like you’re going to vomit or are vomiting constantly and visit your doctor, they will diagnose you with morning sickness. They do not need to run tests to determine you have morning sickness. If you have morning sickness before you know you are pregnant the doctor may run a blood test to confirm your pregnancy.
Treatments for morning sickness
Morning sickness will usually go away on its own after your first trimester of pregnancy. There are treatments you can do at home to alleviate your nausea and reduce the morning sickness. These remedies include:
- Taking prenatal vitamins
- Vitamin B6
- Eating small meals throughout the day to ease digestion
- Avoiding spicy or greasy meals
- Getting plenty of rest
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Pregnancy supplements
If your morning sickness is severe, you can talk to your doctor about Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medication for reducing nausea during pregnancy. Do not take medication during pregnancy unless it has been approved by your doctor.
Pregnancy and Parenting Resources
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "What causes morning sickness (nausea and vomiting during pregnancy)?"
American Family Physician: "Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy."
American Pregnancy Association: "Morning Sickness Remedies."
FamilyDoctor.org: "Morning Sickness."
Frontiers in Psychology: "Pregnancy and olfaction: A review."
Health Partners: "Morning sickness: When does it start and what can I do about it?"
NHS: "Vomiting and morning sickness in pregnancy."
Sanford Health: "How to enjoy, not just endure, morning sickness."