There you are, minding your own business, when it happens — you start feeling queasy. You might even find yourself huddled over the toilet or a trashcan for the better part of the morning (or entire day, but more on that in a minute). Welcome to morning sickness. Depending on your luck, you may experience a mild version of this common pregnancy symptom or it could be downright disrespectful.
Although it typically isn’t harmful to you or baby, it stands to reason it’s no fun. And, on rare occasion, extreme bouts with morning sickness could be indicative of a more serious condition. So, here’s a quick rundown of what you should know about this pregnancy-related nausea.
Is morning sickness common?
It may not seem like it when you’re sitting on your bathroom floor alone, hugging your toilet, but you’re in good company if you get morning sickness during pregnancy. Per the American Pregnancy Association, more than half of all pregnant women experience some degree of morning sickness.
When does morning sickness start, and when does it end?
Often one of the earliest pregnancy symptoms women report experiencing, pregnancy nausea (with or without vomiting) typically begins around the 6th week of pregnancy. For many women, it usually subsides around the 12th week of pregnancy, as you enter your second trimester.
Alas, as some of us are all too aware, the term “morning sickness” can be a bit of a misnomer. This nausea can strike at any time of day — and, more pointedly, all throughout the day. Likewise, it sometimes circles back around in the third trimester. Fortunately, it is the minority, not the majority of pregnant women who deal with morning sickness throughout their entire pregnancy.
Is pregnancy nausea dangerous?
Mild pregnancy nausea in and of itself sucks (sorry, there’s no way to sugarcoat it), but it generally isn’t going to hurt you or your baby. However, some women experience severe nausea and vomiting that could potentially be problematic. If you’re throwing up several hours each day, several times a day, you run the risk of dehydration, which isn’t good for you or baby. Also, if your morning sickness is extreme enough to lead to significant weight loss, it could affect the baby’s weight at birth.
The most severe form of pregnancy nausea and vomiting is a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. If it rings a bell, it’s probably because celebrities like Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, and comedian Amy Schumer shared their struggles with the condition while pregnant. It only occurs in up to 3 percent of pregnancies, but it’s important to seek treatment if you suspect you may be part of that narrow margin.
Is there any way to predict pregnancy nausea?
Tragically, most of us weren’t born with the ability to look into a crystal ball and tell the future. Outside of being clairvoyant, there’s no guaranteed way to know if you’ll suffer from pregnancy nausea and vomiting. There are a few risk factors that could make you more susceptible to it, though: being pregnant with more than one baby, a history of nausea in previous pregnancies, a family history of pregnancy nausea (thanks, Mom), and a tendency toward motion sickness or migraines.
You may have also heard the old wives’ tale which insists carrying a girl will make you more prone to severe pregnancy nausea. This may sound outlandish, but a 2016 Swedish study found a “strong girl bias” in cases of hyperemesis gravidarum.
What can you do to help with morning sickness?
If your pregnancy nausea is mild enough not to merit a doctor’s visit but persistent enough to be super-annoying, there are a few tried-and-true lifestyle changes that might help. The American Pregnancy Association recommends:
- Eating small meals often.
- Drinking fluids ½ hour before or after meals but not with meals.
- Staying hydrated throughout the day.
- Eating soda crackers first thing in the morning.
- Listening to your body if it’s telling you to rest.
- Avoiding overly warm places, as heat can exacerbate nausea.
- Drinking lemonade, watermelon, or salty chips to relieve nausea.
- Getting in a little exercise each day.
Another great resource for battling pregnancy nausea is other mothers who’ve been there. Ask friends and family members how they coped, and you’ll likely tap into a wellspring of tips and tricks you can use during your pregnancy.
Written by Julie Sprankles.