Morning sickness. It must be the most well-known and dreaded pregnancy symptom. Well, that and those bizarre cravings for pickles.
It’s also the most poorly named condition I’ve ever come across. Morning sickness? More like “morning, noon and night” sickness (no, I’m not bitter).
Almost everyone will experience it during their pregnancy. And it sucks. But it won’t last forever.
So, when should you expect morning sickness to start, and more importantly, when should you expect it to end?
When Does It Start, and Stop?
Before I start, I should put a disclaimer on this timeline: everyone is different. My younger sister didn’t have any morning sickness (lucky duck). My older sister was sick the entire time (yikes!). As for me, I fell somewhere in the middle.
So, don’t take this as gospel, but I think it’s a pretty good guideline for the majority of women.According to americanpregnancy.org, morning sickness usually starts around the 6th week of pregnancy and it generally ends around the 12th.
Basically, it will stick around your entire first trimester, which is not surprising: your body is going through a lot of changes! And, as with any change, there’s bound to be an adjustment period.
While the science is not settled, according to Medical News Today some of the culprits behind morning sickness are:
- Progesterone: this hormone relaxes the uterus muscles in order to prevent early childbirth. At the same it also relaxes the stomach and intestinal muscles, resulting in excess stomach acid.
- Human chorionic gonadotropin: hCG is a hormone that is developed by the embryo soon after conception, and later by the placenta. Many experts suggest that there is a link between increased hCG and morning sickness.
- Sense of Smell: an increase sense of smell can overstimulate normal nausea triggers.
- Evolutionary survival adaptation: some experts suggest that morning sickness could be an evolutionary adaptation that protects pregnant mothers and their babies from food poisoning. If the woman with morning sickness does not feel like eating foods which may be potentially contaminated, such as poultry, eggs, or meat, and prefers foods with a low contamination risk, such as rice, bread, and crackers, the survival chances for her and her child are improved.
What can you do?
So, you’re pregnant and you’ve got a bad case of morning, noon and night sickness. What can you do to alleviate it? While there’s no sure-fire solution, here are some safe ways to ease the nausea:
- Small meals, more often: As much as you may not want to eat, remember that an empty stomach can make nausea worse. But a full stomach is harder to keep down. Try high-protein foods and complex carbohydrates. And whatever you eat, eat slowly.
- Liquids: Like food, you should drink liquids throughout the day in small amounts. This can help reduce vomiting. Water is a safe bet, but drinking sports beverages that contain glucose, salt and potassium will help to replace electrolytes lost during vomiting. You can also try sucking on ice cubes made from water or fruit juice, or try lollipops. (I like YumEarth Organics Lollipops).
- Ginger: Ginger is a classic cure for an upset stomach. Try some ginger tea, ginger chews or ginger snaps. You can also go with ginger ale, but you should probably limit your pop (“soda” to you Yanks) intake throughout your pregnancy.
- Peppermint: Peppermint is another classic cure for settling an upset stomach. Try peppermint tea, mints, or gum. But beware of chewing too much gum- especially those brands with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, which can be harmful during pregnancy. A piece or two a day is fine, but don’t go through five packs.
- Soda crackers: Soda crackers are simple and bland and can do a lot to settle your stomach. Keep some on hand at all times to clamp down on nausea when it rears its ugly head. It’s also a good idea to keep some by your bedside- eat a few in the morning and then rest for at least 15 minutes before you get up for the day.
- Vitamin B: According to besthealthmag.ca, studies have shown that women who took 25 milligrams of vitamin B6 three times a day for three days reduced nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy. However, double check with your doctor before you add B6 or any other vitamins to your daily routine.
- Sniff Lemons: This sounds weird, but for reasons unknown, smelling a lemon helps with morning sickness. You can also add lemon to your water to help calm your stomach.
- Avoid fatty foods: These foods take longer to digest and can worsen nausea. Also avoid spicy, acidic and fried foods which can irritate your digestive system.
- Take your prenatal vitamin with food: Taking prenatal vitamins on an empty stomach can make nausea worse (in fact, the only time my younger sister threw up during her pregnancy was when she did exactly that). Prenatal vitamins are high in iron, which is hard on your digestive system. You can talk to your doctor about switching to a prenatal vitamin with lower iron during your first trimester to help ease the nausea.
- Eat what you can: Stick with what you know you can handle. Don’t force yourself to eat anything just because you think you have to in order to have a well-balanced diet. For me, I couldn’t keep down any fruit. When I brought my concerns to my doctor, she told me that it wasn’t a big deal- my prenatal vitamins would make up for the deficiency until I could keep my food down.
- Find your time: You may find that there are some periods during the day that you feel pretty good. Try to eat your main meal then. For me, I had a two-hour window around 2 in the afternoon when I didn’t feel sick, so I made lunch my main meal and stuck to small snacks during the rest of the day.
If none of these help, my advice would be to eat something that doesn’t taste absolutely disgusting the second time around. For me, that was Cheerios- I could handle that coming up again.
But I couldn’t handle cinnamon a second time, so I tried to avoid it. And, FYI, Doritos are probably the worst thing in the world to throw up ever. Avoid. Do not eat! You’ve been warned.
Serious Morning Sickness
You may find your morning sickness goes from being merely annoying to being seriously concerning. Go see your doctor if:
- You experience constant and excessive nausea that prevents you from keeping any food or liquids down for several days.
- Vomiting is accompanied by fever or pain.
- Nausea persists into the second trimester.
- If you experience a dramatic drop in weight (however, bear in a mind losing a few pounds is normal in the first trimester.)
- You vomit blood.
- You have signs of dehydration such as dark-colored urine or infrequent urination.
You’re Not Alone
Having morning sickness can make you miserable, and you probably don’t want to hear it, but: you’re not alone. And you’re not the first. Plenty or women are going through or have gone through the same thing. If you didn’t find any helpful tips here, ask around. You’re sure to get plenty of advice- some helpful, some not. Find what works for you.
Morning sickness is just a fact of life when you’re pregnant. And, take heart, it’s also a good sign. Studies indicate that morning sickness can be a sign of a healthy pregnancy, with lower rates of miscarriages and stillbirths, compared with pregnancies with no nausea or vomiting.
So, stiff upper lip, ladies. Keep calm and carry on. You’ll get through this- it doesn’t last forever. And, from what I’m told, it’s all worth it in the end.