What Can I Expect From Morning Sickness?

When It Occurs, How It Feels, and How to Deal

Woman with stomach cramps.

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Morning sickness is nausea experienced during pregnancy. It tends to be the first pregnancy symptom many women experience. It can start nearly as soon as the pregnancy test is positive, though many women will not notice morning sickness until about the sixth week of pregnancy. It typically lasts for just the first few months of pregnancy (the first trimester). But for some women, it can stretch out into the second, and sometimes even the third, trimesters.

Does Morning Sickness Really Only Happen in the Morning?

Despite the name, you may experience morning sickness at any time of the day or night. However, many women do experience their worst nausea symptoms early in the morning, probably because their stomachs are empty. 

What Does It Feel Like to Have Morning Sickness?

Some women have nausea and vomiting, while others experience only queasiness. None of these is pleasant. For some women, vomiting actually makes them feel better, while others find no relief after vomiting.

What Can I Do To Ease the Symptoms of Morning Sickness?

There are many things you can try in order to help alleviate this annoying pregnancy symptom, though the effectiveness of each of these techniques varies from person to person.

First, avoid eating offending foods that seem to trigger nausea. For many women, this usually means avoiding high-fat or spicy foods (though, again, every woman's experience is unique). You may worry that cutting these foods from your diet will feel like deprivation, but you'll likely feel too nauseated even by the smell of such foods to want them anyway. It's like a form of self-protection! You may find that these triggers fade with time, only to be replaced by other foods that cause discomfort.

You can also try to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day to help stabilize your blood sugar.

There are also certain food items women swear by as a means of easing their nausea. Some suggest suckers or hard candy, particularly the more sour flavors, such as lemon. Others find that ginger (in the form of tea, candies, or supplements) can help. Sometimes it helps to nibble on bland foods such as saltines, bread, or pretzels throughout the duration of morning sickness symptoms.

If you still can't find relief, your doctor or midwife may be able to prescribe medicine that can help. There are also a number of non-medicinal aids that don't require prescriptions.

Is Morning Sickness Ever Dangerous?

Morning sickness can cause dehydration if you are unable to eat or drink, or if you cannot keep food or water down due to vomiting. When this happens, it is called hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme vomiting that causes dehydration and weight loss). Your doctor may suggest IV hydration or tube feedings to solve this problem. Medications are also occasionally used, particularly in severe cases.

For some women, the only thing worse than morning sickness is no morning sickness at all, as this can lead to the concern that there is something wrong with the pregnancy. Usually, this is not the case; morning sickness can come and go without much logic, even in a healthy, viable pregnancy.

Either way, if you're worried about morning sickness or lack of it, or if you are suffering, talk to your doctor or midwife. Your provider is there to help.

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