Morning sickness is one of the most common and annoying pregnancy symptoms, affecting up to 80% of pregnant women. Typically, it beings around week six of pregnancy and starts to go away in the second trimester. However, it can vary significantly between women and even with each pregnancy.
While it can be unpleasant and uncomfortable, understanding what causes morning sickness may help you figure out how to manage better or even eliminate your nausea. This article will discuss what causes morning sickness and ways to ditch nausea.
What Causes Morning Sickness?
The exact cause of morning sickness isn’t known. Still, experts believe it is linked to hormonal changes during pregnancy, such as increased levels of progesterone and hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin).
According to research, the following factors correlate to morning sickness (nausea and vomiting):
- Hormonal factors: During pregnancy, elevated levels of certain hormones, such as estrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), can cause nausea and vomiting.
- Gastrointestinal factors: Pregnancy can slow the digestive process, leading to increased acid production, delayed gastric emptying, and relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter.
- Psychological factors: Psychological factors such as anxiety and stress can trigger or exacerbate symptoms.
- Genetic factors: Evidence suggests that genetics may play a role in the development of morning sickness.
- Nutritional factors: Deficiencies in specific nutrients, such as vitamin B6 and magnesium, have been linked to morning sickness.
- Other factors: Additional factors contributing to nausea and vomiting during pregnancy include obesity, multiple pregnancies, and a history of motion sickness.
Morning sickness most often occurs in the morning but can occur anytime during the day (and night). Common symptoms of morning sickness include:
- Nausea: An unsettled stomach or queasiness.
- Vomiting: This can range from mild to severe and may be accompanied by abdominal pain or cramping – most often occurring after eating or drinking something.
- Food aversions: Increased sensitivity to smells or tastes of certain foods.
- Fatigue: Exhaustion throughout the day or after exerting yourself.
- Dizziness: Feeling lightheaded or unbalanced, particularly when standing up quickly.
How To Manage Morning Sickness
Morning sickness can make the days feel long and painful. Having a few tips and tricks can help you manage your days better, especially if you are working a full-time job that doesn’t allow you to take time off.
Take Vitamin B
Some women relieve morning sickness by taking a daily vitamin B6 supplement. Vitamin B6 can help alleviate nausea and vomiting, as well as reduce fatigue associated with pregnancy. Talk to your doctor before taking anything.
Eat Small, Frequent Meals and Snacks
Eating smaller meals more frequently helps to avoid an empty stomach, which can exacerbate nausea and vomiting. Eating something small every 2-3 hours, such as crackers, toast, or a piece of fruit, can help to keep nausea at bay.
Eat What You Can
Food might be the last thing on your mind, so simply eat what you can. Eat foods that sound good and help fight nausea during pregnancy. Some women find nausea relief when they eat bland foods with salt, like potato chips and pretzels. Others find relief from sweet treats like popsicles and jello.
Eat Cold Foods
Cold food is much gentler on an upset stomach. Plus, its lack of smell will help you keep it down. Adding a bit of lemon or peppermint essential oil to your food can also help digestion and reduce nausea.
Opt for Easy Meals
During this time, opt for easy meals like smoothies and soups. Smoothies are a great way to pack in plenty of vitamins, minerals, and protein – all of which will help you to stay energized throughout your day. Soups are easy to digest, gentle on the stomach, and can offer you lots of nutrition.
Keep a Snack on Your Night Stand
Getting out of bed in the morning with an empty stomach and low blood sugar can increase feelings of nausea. Keep a snack on your nightstand to munch on before you get out of bed.
Keep Snacks Handy All Day
Other than in the morning, nausea can strike any time of day. Keep snacks with you throughout the day, like crackers or a granola bar, to help alleviate nausea.
Take Your Prenatals at Night
Change the timing of your prenatal vitamins to reduce morning sickness. Taking them in the morning can exacerbate nausea, so try taking them at night before bed and see if it makes a difference.
Staying hydrated is critical. Sip on water throughout the day and take a few sips before getting out of bed to help with nausea, but not right before or during meals (this can affect your stomach acid and make things worse). You can infuse your water with lemon or ginger for added nausea benefits.
Drink or Eat Ginger
Ginger is a recommended natural remedy for nausea. It can be taken as ginger tea, ginger ale, or crystallized ginger. In addition to this, add ginger to your meals, such as in soups or stir-fries.
Take Rest Breaks
Rest and relaxation are vital in managing morning sickness. Take breaks throughout the day to rest and relax to help reduce nausea. Midday naps are excellent if you can swing them (depending on work, other kids, etc.).
Get Enough Sleep
Ask For Help
There are quite a few things that your partner, family, or friends can help you with to reduce nausea and vomiting. These include:
- Asking them to help cook meals (the smells are often a trigger)
- Have your partner do the grocery shopping (another common trigger)
- Ask for help with projects around the house to avoid getting exhausted
Move your body gently to reduce morning sickness symptoms. Light exercises can help reduce nausea, such as swimming, walking, or yoga. Exercise is also a great way to boost endorphins, which can help to fight off dreaded morning sickness symptoms. Take it easy and do your best.
Grab Some Essential Oils
Try inhaling essential oils like the scent of lemons or ginger for a natural remedy. Citrus aromas help reduce nausea, so keep a bottle of lemon or grapefruit essential oil handy, especially if there’s a stinky trigger nearby (like cooking dinner or a grocery store smells).
Identifying Possible Triggers
Now that you have all the best tips for combating morning sickness, let’s review some things you should avoid that can worsen nausea. These potential triggers can worsen morning sickness and are to avoid when trying to cope.
- Sleep deprivation
- Lying down after eating
- Tasting and smelling certain foods, particularly with cooking
- Smoking, secondhand smoke, drug use
- Mental and physical stress
If you recognize any of these triggers in your daily routine, try eliminating them as best you can.
Morning Sickness FAQ
Here are helpful answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Why do they call it morning sickness?
Despite the name, morning sickness can happen any time of day. It is called morning sickness because the symptoms of nausea and vomiting generally being worse in the morning when your stomach is empty and certain hormones are at their peak.
Can morning sickness happen at any time of the day?
Yes, morning sickness is a misnomer. It can happen any time of the day.
When does it usually start?
Usually, morning sickness is one of the more obvious signs of pregnancy (compared to common subtle and hidden pregnancy symptoms). Nausea and vomiting from morning sickness often begin around the 6th week of pregnancy and can last up to 16 weeks. However, some women experience it throughout the entirety of their pregnancy.
When does it usually go away?
For most women, morning sickness begins to taper off around the 14th week of pregnancy.
When should I see my doctor?
If your morning sickness is accompanied by severe vomiting, weight loss, extreme tiredness, or you cannot keep anything down, contact your healthcare provider immediately. These may be signs of something more severe than morning sickness and could require medical attention.
What is hyperemesis gravidarum?
Severe morning sickness is called hyperemesis gravidarum. It is an extreme form of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy that can lead to severe dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and weight loss. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you have persistent or severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. They can help diagnose and treat this condition.
Can you prevent morning sickness?
Unfortunately, morning sickness isn’t preventable. The underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. You can reduce your symptoms’ severity by following the recommendation outlined above.
Is there medical treatment for morning sickness?
If your morning sickness worsens, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications or suggest supplements to help treat morning sickness by reducing your symptoms.
Hang in There, Mama
When you’re dealing with the agony of daily morning sickness and feeling nauseated, it can be challenging to know where to turn. With the right mindset and supportive care, you can confidently make it through this trying time in your pregnancy as you get ready for your sweet baby. It will eventually improve in your second trimester or after giving birth.
Hang in there, mama- it’ll all be worth it when you meet your little one!
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
JayDee is a mom, writer, and Doctor of Physical Therapy. She’s passionate about helping women live their best lives through community and education. Outside of her work as a health and mom blogger, she loves traveling the world and exploring the great outdoors with her family.