What is morning sickness?
During pregnancy, it is very common to experience nausea and vomiting, especially in the first trimester. This infamous symptom of pregnancy is known as morning sickness. However, despite its name, morning sickness can happen any time during the day or night and even though it is an early sign that goes away after the first trimester, it can continue throughout the pregnancy term in some women.
When does morning sickness start after getting pregnant?
Usually, morning sickness starts around the sixth week of pregnancy and can hit any time of the day. Some people report feeling nausea all day, some throw up after meals and in some people, it is only triggered by specific smells or foods. Even though it is common to experience it around week 6, some people get it as early as 4 weeks into pregnancy.
Morning sickness usually starts mildly around the sixth week and begin getting worse till the ninth or tenth week.
What causes it?
The exact cause of this symptom is not clearly known, but many doctors believe that it has to do with the pregnancy hormone hCG, which is seen to peak around the time morning sickness is most severe.
Also, an increase in the hormones estrogen and progesterone can make it harder for the body to digest food, leading to nausea and vomiting.
Is it different if you are carrying twins?
As for the start of morning sickness, carrying twins does not affect that timeline. However, it can become more severe once it starts because the hCG levels believed to be responsible for causing morning sickness are higher when you are carrying twins. Thus, it is possible to experience the sickness getting worse when you are pregnant with twins.
When does it usually end?
Normally, after morning sickness has peaked around the ninth to tenth week, most expecting mothers report feeling better around 12 to 14 weeks into pregnancy, around the time the second trimester starts.
For most people, it goes away completely by the sixteenth or twentieth week, but a small percentage of women have reported feeling morning sickness throughout their pregnancy term right up till the time of delivery.
Sometimes, it may resume in the third trimester as the baby gets bigger and starts to exert pressure on the stomach and intestines, which makes digestion difficult.
Can morning sickness be harmful?
Morning sickness is usually a sign of healthy pregnancy that indicates a lesser chance of miscarriage. It may be a sign of a healthy placenta that is producing a lot of hormones that support pregnancy.
In rare cases, extreme morning sickness can be a sign of hyperemesis gravidarum, which is a condition that includes severe, uncontrollable nausea and vomiting resulting in a range of issues like weight loss, dehydration, malnutrition and electrolyte imbalance that can be harmful to both the mother and the baby.
The symptoms of this extreme form of morning sickness can include throwing up more than expected, a fever, loss of weight over two weeks and dark coloured urine. A doctor should be called on immediately in those cases so that your nausea is controlled, letting your body remain hydrated and nourished.
How can you find relief?
Even though morning sickness does not usually require treatment, there are a number of things you can try to reduce nausea and vomiting.
- Eat small portions - Instead of keeping your stomach empty or stuffing yourself full (both of which aggravate morning sickness), try eating small but frequent portions throughout the day.
- Switch up your diet - Try incorporating plenty of carbs and protein into your diet and avoid cravings for heavy or greasy junk foods, which are harder to digest, leading to more nausea and vomiting.
- Try some edibles that help with nausea - There are certain things like ginger flavored tea or candies, peppermint tea, lemonade, salads, smoothies and crackers that can help make you feel less nauseous.
- Consider acupuncture or acupressure - It is believed that acupuncture or acupressure can hit certain areas of your body that can help relieve the feeling of vomiting.
- Avoid strong smells and try some others - Smells, especially strong ones, can make you feel more nauseous than usual. Find out what triggers more nausea and stay away from them. But, on the other hand, certain smells like that of peppermint essential oil and lemon juice can help curb the feeling of vomiting.
- Exercise - Exercises such as walking, prenatal yoga or swimming can help with the feeling of morning sickness. Incorporate them into your routine.
- Avoid excess heat - Try to stay away from activities or places that can increase the heat levels in your body, as overheating can contribute to worsened nausea.
Get enough rest - Make sure not to overexert yourself and get plenty of rest, which can decrease the feeling of nausea.
What does it mean if you don’t have morning sickness?
Sometimes, you may be one of the few women who don’t experience morning sickness during pregnancy and this may be worrying you. However, note that it is perfectly normal to both experience nausea and stay completely fine during your term.
Some people are more sensitive to hormonal changes while others are not. Also, it may be that on some days you feel completely fine, while on other days you just can’t stop throwing up. All of these scenarios are completely normal, but if you are still concerned about the lack of nausea, please visit a gynaecologist who will be able to guide you through your concerns.
When should you see a doctor?
It’s important to know what’s normal and what’s not when experiencing morning sickness. While most cases are completely normal, if you notice signs of hyperemesis gravidarum, please visit a doctor and check if everything is fine with you and your baby.