You have just found out you are pregnant and are overjoyed--and maybe even a little overwhelmed. You've probably already experienced the first symptom of pregnancy: your late period. But you may also be noticing that certain foods or smells are making you feel queasy, or that you're constantly feeling sick to your stomach. If you're wondering why this is happening to you and how you can fix it, then, ladies, let me introduce you to MORNING SICKNESS. Whether this is your first pregnancy or your third, morning sickness may be totally new for you. So in this post, we'll cover all the questions you may have about it, like how long is this going to last and why is it not just something that happens in the morning like its name says. We hope it can help you feel a little more reassured!
What is Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness is a symptom that affects about 70% of women during pregnancy. It is a queasy feeling of nausea that can cause vomiting or dry-heaving. Despite the name, it can happen at any time during the day. The onset of nausea can be triggered by all sorts of things, including eating certain foods and also by certain odors. (I couldn't stand the smell of bacon! Hello, sensitive sense of smell!)
Women who experience morning sickness also sometimes notice excess saliva, and if they live in a humid or hot environment, it can also increase their nausea.
What Causes Morning Sickness?
While there isn't a definitive cause of morning sickness, it's believed that hormones are mainly to blame for it. According to the Mayo Clinic, morning sickness "might be due to the effects of a hormone produced by the placenta called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).
Pregnant women begin producing HCG shortly after a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining." Women who have severe morning sickness usually have higher levels of HCG. And I'm sorry if you're pregnant with multiples, but sickness can be more severe if you're carrying more than one because women pregnant with twins or triplets also have higher HCG levels, so they may be more prone to morning sickness. The increased production of the hormone estrogen could also be the cause.
However, it's important to note that some women with high pregnancy hormone levels don't ever experience morning sickness, so it's possible to have a perfectly normal and healthy pregnancy without having morning sickness. A lack of nausea isn't a cause for worry--just count yourself lucky!
When Does Morning Sickness Start and How Long Does it Last?
Morning sickness can start as early as 5 or 6 weeks into a pregnancy. According to the BabyCenter, it can hit its peak at 9-10 weeks and usually fades between 14-20 weeks. The good news is that there is an end in sight!
Some women may feel symptoms later into the second trimester, or even all the way through their pregnancy. Though this isn't terribly rare, it's a good idea to let your doctor know if the symptoms aren't going away after 20 weeks, if they're getting worse, or if you didn't experience any morning sickness before 9 weeks and are just starting to. It could be a sign that something else is going on, and it's best to be on the safe side by consulting with your provider.
Contrary to its name, morning sickness doesn't always happen in the morning. For some it can hit at lunchtime or during dinner. For many women, it can be an all-day situation, like it was for me. It got its name because when we wake up in the morning, there is less food in our stomachs, which means more gastric acid and that definitely doesn't please your stomach, so nausea is more likely to hit first thing in the morning. Sometimes it can get better as the day progresses. However, don't be worried if it's lasting all day, or hitting at random times besides the morning--though you can be annoyed. It's no fun!
Some may say they feel like their morning sickness was worse when they were pregnant with a girl than it was with a boy (some studies have supported this belief), but you can still have morning sickness if you're carrying a boy, so don't start buying everything pink just because you're nauseous.
What Can I Do to Treat Morning Sickness?
While there isn't an instant cure for morning sickness, I am here to tell you that there are usually one or more ways to help ease or relieve your morning sickness!
Choose the right kind of food. For some women, certain foods can help ease their stomachs. Common foods for this include:
Ginger Ale, ginger candy or lollipops
Salty foods like saltine crackers
Bland foods that are easy to digest, like toast, applesauce, or rice. (Toast and applesauce were my best friend!)
Snack often. If you're like me and you are constantly not feeling well and you can't even think about eating, I have found that snacking throughout the day really can help; it's better to have something in your stomach, because having nothing in it can cause nausea and make you feel worse.
Consider changing your prenatal vitamins
Try medicine like Unisom, B-6, or even prescriptions like Zofran can help. Always consult with your doctor on what dosage you should use and if a prescription is right for you.
Avoiding the food/odors that trigger your sickness
Stay away from heavy, greasy, unhealthy foods.
Drink plenty of water. I cannot overstate this enough! This is a very important one!! This will not only keep you hydrated but also give your body and baby all the strength it needs. Even if you feel like you're not a water drinker (guilty!), try adding fruit or slices of cucumber or lemon to help flavor it. And if that doesn't work or taste good, try drinks with electrolytes.
Get some rest. This can really help make you feel better. Your body is growing a baby, and throwing up uses a lot of energy! Your body needs rest. Sleep helps restore that energy your body needs to feel alert, strong, and healthy.
Eat more protein. Include foods like chicken, nuts, fish, beans, eggs, and seeds in your diet whenever you can to ensure you're getting the nutrition you and your baby need.
Don't lie down right after eating. Your body has a much easier time digesting food when it's upright, so lying down can lead to indigestion.
When Should I Be Concerned About My Morning Sickness?
It's very easy to worry during pregnancy, especially if this is your first, but just remember it's always better to be safe than sorry. If you feel like your morning sickness is getting out of control, or you're worried about whether something is normal or not, ask you doctor!
The biggest cause for concern when it comes to morning sickness is dehydration and becoming malnourished. Throwing up a few times doesn't mean your baby is in danger, just make sure you're staying hydrated. If you can't keep liquids or food down for 12-24 hours, it can be dangerous for both you and the baby.
When I was pregnant with my daughter I couldn't hold down any liquids. I immediately knew I needed to talk to my OB.
If you're experiencing any of the symptoms below, please contact your doctor:
Severe weight loss
Dehydration, you don't urinate, or your urine is a very dark color
Feeling excessively weak or lethargic
Can't keep any fluids down for more than 12 hours
Can't keep food down for more than 24 hours
You feel dizzy or faint when you stand up
Your heart races
You also don't want to rule out Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a severe form of morning sickness that can cause serious complications and compromise your and your baby's health if left untreated. If your doctor determines you're dealing with HG, they'll treat you with IV fluids, special vitamins, and often a prescription medication
Hang In There
Even though the nausea and vomiting feels like it won't ever end, just remember it's daily proof that there is a miracle growing inside you. Remember this is just a short period of time during your pregnancy, and it will most likely pass within a few weeks.
Having had severe morning sickness with all three of my kids, I can promise that once you're holding your little bundle of joy, you will tell yourself that you would gladly go through it again if it meant having your little one in this world. I know it's not fun right now, but I promise, you it's worth it!
For a complete guide to everything you can expect during your pregnancy, from conception to birth, check out our post Your Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy!
Good luck momma, you got this!
We would love to hear from you on what helped you get through your morning sickness! Comment below!