Morning Sickness as a Pregnancy Symptom

Morning sickness
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It can be a little disconcerting if you're struggling with nausea and vomiting during your pregnancy, barely able to tolerate the thought of eating, and then you wake up the next morning and you feel fine. Normally you'd feel thrilled to not feel sick, but if you were already nervous about miscarriage, it's easy to assume the worst.

What Is Morning Sickness?

About 75 percent of women experience morning sickness, or nausea and vomiting, during pregnancy. Morning sickness begins shortly after your first missed period and usually lasts through the first trimester (12 weeks) before beginning to fade. However, some women experience it through the fifth month of gestation or even throughout pregnancy.

Women with morning sickness have on-and-off vomiting along with nausea that can last all day long. Although morning sickness is uncomfortable and painful, it does not put the baby at risk and doesn't increase the risk of miscarriage. In fact, many doctors think it is a good sign that your pregnancy is progressing well, with the placenta producing hormones to sustain the pregnancy. The sudden increase in these hormones, including human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and estrogen, also slows digestion, which can result in morning sickness.


Morning Sickness and Other Pregnancy Symptoms

When to See Your Doctor

You should contact your health care provider if you are having severe nausea and vomiting, especially if you can't keep down any liquids. This can result in dehydration with the signs of passing only small amounts of urine or very dark urine, dizziness when you stand up, or a racing heart rate. Also, seek help if you are vomiting blood.

When vomiting during pregnancy gets really bad and happens a lot, it's called hyperemesis gravidarum. This can lead to weight loss and upsets to the balance of salt in your body. Your doctor may advise that you get more rest or change your diet. Do not take medications for this problem without the advice of your doctor. Severe hyperemesis gravidarum may require hospitalization to address dehydration, electrolyte balance, and nutrition. Thyroid problems can lead to hyperemesis gravidarum; therefore, people with this condition are typically tested for levels of thyroid hormone.

Changes in Morning Sickness and Pregnancy Symptoms

Vanishing morning sickness, even early in the first trimester, does not mean you have had a miscarriage. It is true that fading pregnancy symptoms can occur with a miscarriage, but symptoms can fluctuate or disappear early in a viable pregnancy as well. On average, most women find their pregnancy symptoms become less bothersome by somewhere around the end of the first trimester, but it can also happen sooner or later. Just because some of your pregnancy symptoms have disappeared does not mean you have had a miscarriage.

If you have bleeding or cramping along with your loss of morning sickness, however, there is more reason to be concerned about miscarriage--and you should call your physician to find out what's going on. If you have no other miscarriage symptoms, chances are nothing's wrong. If you're still worried, however, you can check with your physician about it. Some physicians might be willing to order an early ultrasound or check your hCG levels to help you feel more reassured, especially if you have had a previous missed miscarriage.

Treatment and Coping for Morning Sickness 

Simple solutions to help with morning sickness include eating small, frequent meals and avoiding having an empty stomach. Having some plain crackers 20 minutes before you get up in the morning may help. You may want to avoid greasy, spicy, or fatty foods. Try high-carbohydrate meals that are dry and savory (such as crackers). Some women find that ginger helps, including things such as a ginger lollipop. Drink small amounts of fluids throughout the day but avoid them during meals. Avoid odors that trigger your nausea or make it worse.

During the first trimester of pregnancy, the embryo and later fetus are particularly sensitive to teratogens, or substances that can cause birth defects. Therefore, it's a good idea to limit your exposure to medications, including those taken to treat nausea and vomiting, during the first trimester. During the first trimester, you should only take medications that your OB-GYN recommends and that you absolutely need. One you may discuss is using Unisom tablets, which combines vitamin B6 and doxylamine.

For most people, antiemetics (anti-vomiting medications), antispasmodics, and antihistamines are generally avoided when treating nausea from morning sickness. If you need to take something, there are certain prescription medications that can help with morning sickness, such as Zofran. Some women who have morning sickness experience relief after getting a shot of vitamin B6, which is safe to take during pregnancy.

A Word From Verywell

Morning sickness usually subsides during the fourth month of pregnancy. It's normal for your morning sickness to go away, and its disappearance does not necessarily mean that there's something wrong with your baby. However, if you're concerned or are experiencing other signs of miscarriage, contact your OB-GYN immediately.

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Article Sources

  • Miscarriage. American Pregnancy Association.
  • Morning Sickness. American Pregnancy Association.
  • Herrell HE. Nausea and Vomiting of PregnancyAm Fam Physician. 2014 Jun 15;89(12):965-70.
  • Rogers VL, Worley KC. Obstetrics & Obstetric Disorders. In: Papadakis MA, McPhee SJ, Rabow MW. eds. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2016. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2016.