Morning Sickness Symptoms: It’s More Than Just Nausea

A woman is wearing a cream colored sweater and pants. She is standing in front of a cabinet with glass doors holding a glass of water in her left hand and her right hand is on her pregnant stomach.

Early pregnancy comes with a wide range of irritating ailments and signs. There’s breast tenderness, fatigue, mood swings, and so much more. No matter how prevalent these other issues are,  none of them have earned the same level of infamy as morning sickness symptoms. Blech!

From the moment my first blood pregnancy test came up positive, I swear I developed an instant aversion to food. 

My husband took me to a lovely celebratory dinner the night we received our results, and I nearly threw up all over the pristine white tablecloth. 

The thing is, I’m not alone. 

For many of us, nausea and vomiting are the first clues that something is brewing inside us. This “side effect” is a standard marker of the first trimester and can be a seriously uncomfortable pregnancy condition.

Have you ever wondered why, though?

What about pregnancy makes us want to throw up our breakfast? Why must we constantly munch on ginger and dry toast?!

Keep reading to discover why experts believe we experience morning sickness symptoms AND how you can alleviate them. 

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What is Morning Sickness?

Is it just me, or does the phrase “morning sickness” have a delicate ring to it? It’s like the term was invented in the 1950s or something. But I suppose it’s better than describing the condition as “involuntary pregnancy puking.”

While many of us have heard of morning sickness symptoms, not everyone knows what it is or why we experience it.

Morning sickness is nausea and vomiting that often comes with the early stages of pregnancy. If you’re ever wondering, “How do you know if you are pregnant,” sudden bouts of nausea are a good indicator you might be. 

And guess what? Dizziness and headaches during early pregnancy can also be attributed to morning sickness. Fun times!

Does it Really Only Happen in the Morning?

It’s a common morning sickness myth that you only experience the symptom during the early parts of the day. 

While pregnancy nausea happens most frequently in the morning, it can also strike in the afternoons and evenings. 

When Does Morning Sickness Start?

We’re all different, and despite sharing the same biological pregnancy process, not all of our bodies will handle the experience the same way. 

That goes for morning sickness timelines, as well.

On average, many of us will start experiencing pregnancy-related nausea around 6 weeks pregnant. Typically, it will be at its worst by 9 weeks

This isn’t an iron-clad estimate, though. Some people might experience morning sickness earlier, some later, and others not at all.

Can You Start Feeling Symptoms at 1 Week Pregnant?

Many people don’t believe that one-week pregnancy symptoms are a “thing.”

I respectfully disagree.

Given my background with infertility treatments, I’ve become highly attuned to what my body is doing. That’s probably why I started getting suspicious about any stomach activity almost immediately. 

Within days of my embryo transfer, I started feeling strange. Not only was I more tired than usual and experiencing daily headaches, but I noticed mild nausea beginning to kick in.

This can be quite ordinary.

Pregnancy hormones are strange. They trigger our bodies to do unusual things and make us feel symptoms we’re generally not accustomed to.

If you know you’re early in your pregnancy but think you’re already starting to feel something, don’t let naysayers try to convince you otherwise. You know your body better than anyone and will be the first to judge when things seem different. 

There is a teal colored table with a lined notebook on it. The notebook has a black marker laying across it and the words Human Chorionic Gonadotropin hCG written on it.
Morning sickness symptoms are one of the most common early signs of pregnancy. Here’s what you need to know about this common pregnancy side effect.

Understanding the Typical Causes of Pregnancy Nausea & Vomiting

Figuring out the exact cause of morning sickness continues to puzzle doctors and researchers. But there are a few thoughts about why it happens to us.  

Hormonal changes during the first trimester, for example, are often believed to be a primary risk factor for nausea and vomiting. 

After implantation occurs, our bodies begin producing a pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Researchers have discovered a link between hCG and nausea and vomiting

Studies even show that morning sickness tends to be worse for pregnant folks who experience higher levels of hCG than usual. These include people who are pregnant with multiples, suffering from molar pregnancies, or carrying a child with Down Syndrome

Some other common reasons for nausea during early pregnancy include:

  • Hormonal shifts during early pregnancy can cause low blood sugar, which can lead to a sensitive stomach. 
  • While morning sickness can happen to any of us, science shows that high-stress levels can exacerbate the symptom. 
  • If you have a history of motion sickness during everyday life, you could have an increased risk of morning sickness during pregnancy. 
  • Research shows morning sickness, especially severe cases of hyperemesis gravidarum, may also be hereditary

Is Morning Sickness Dangerous?

In general, morning sickness is not considered dangerous. There are cases, however, when continual bouts of nausea and pregnancy can lead to harmful situations. 

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), for instance, can sometimes lead to hospitalization.

What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

HG is an extreme version of morning sickness that requires hospital treatment in 1% of cases. It poses severe risks to moms, including:

  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Vitamin Deficiency
  • Renal Failure

HG is also dangerous for babies and can cause:

  • Miscarriage
  • Neurodevelopmental Issues
  • Metabolic Issues

The most important thing to remember about HG is to seek treatment as soon as possible. If you’re experiencing severe morning sickness symptoms, such as vomiting more than four times a day, dizziness, or dehydration, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

There are various medications your doctor can prescribe to treat this condition. In serious cases, they might admit you to the hospital to receive fluids and additional treatments. In the most severe situations, you could require a temporary feeding tube

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Is it a Bad Sign if You Don’t Have Morning Sickness?

It might seem like we all end up dealing with morning sickness during early pregnancy. On the contrary, nausea and vomiting in the first trimester only happens in around 70% of pregnancies. 

You might start to worry that a lack of morning sickness symptoms is a sign there’s something wrong with your pregnancy. Put those worries away, though; in most situations, a lack of morning sickness is completely normal! (Also, I’m jealous of you if this is the case!)

Reliable Treatments for Early Pregnancy Morning Sickness

No matter what’s causing your morning sickness, your top priority is probably figuring out how to get RID of it. The good news is that there are tons of trusted natural and medicinal treatment options to help alleviate pregnancy nausea and vomiting! 

1. Ginger

For generations, expectant mamas have relied on ginger to solve pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting. It’s not only proven to reduce symptoms, but it also doesn’t pose any risks to fetal development. 

Ginger is even a preferred supplement for morning sickness by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists(ACOG).

One of my favorite things about ginger are that you can use it in many different ways. Some popular over-the-counter (OTC) products include:

2. OTC Morning Sickness Treatments

If you’re looking for OTC treatments aside from ginger, you’re in luck! Companies continually develop products to help us overcome morning sickness symptoms. Some of the top-rated options include:

3. Drink Plenty of Fluids

Not only can morning sickness symptoms lead to dehydration, but you’ll likely feel even worse once you’re dehydrated.

It’s a vicious cycle, my friends!

That’s why it’s crucial to drink plenty of fluids while you’re experiencing pregnancy nausea, especially if you notice signs of dehydration, such as:

  • Feeling Thirsty
  • Strong-Smelling or Dark Yellow Pee
  • Dry Mouth and Lips
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

Since morning sickness, especially HG, can lead to an electrolyte imbalance, you might be tempted to treat nausea with electrolyte-enhanced drinks, such as Gatorade. While this isn’t necessarily a bad idea, stick to low-sugar varieties.  

4. Utilize the BRAT Diet

Whether you have morning sickness or a tummy bug, there’s a good chance someone in your life will suggest sticking to bland foods until you feel better.

Did you know that this type of dietary plan has an official name? It’s called the BRAT Diet.

BRAT = Bananas, Rice, Apples, Toast

The name says it all: a diet of easy-to-digest, mild foods is the perfect solution to morning sickness sensitivity. Some recommended foods include:

  • Saltine Crackers
  • Broth
  • Gelatin
  • Applesauce
  • Plain Rice
  • Dry Toast
  • Bananas

5. Acupressure & Acupuncture

In Chinese medicine, P-6 is a popular acupressure point used to remedy nausea and upset stomach. This point is located on the inside of your arm, near your wrist. Since this is a reliable solution, several companies have created acupressure wrist bands that trigger the point when worn.

There are tons of these wristband products, including:

If you’re interested in a more involved treatment option, acupuncture might be a great choice. Studies show acupuncture to be an effective solution for pregnancy-related nausea. 

6. Morning Sickness Prescription Medications

In cases of severe morning sickness or HG, your doctor might suggest a prescription-strength remedy for your nausea and vomiting. Metoclopramide (Reglan), pyridoxine, doxylamine, and ondansetron are standard medications. 

A woman is standing against a light grey wall. She's wearing cream colored pants and a light purple shirt. Both hands are placed on her stomach
Wondering if you could be experiencing morning sickness? We’re breaking down morning sickness symptoms to help you decide.

When Do Symptoms of Morning Sickness Usually Subside?

Now for the moment, you’ve all been waiting for – the answer to a VERY important question:

When will morning sickness GO AWAY?

While morning sickness can feel like a never-ending experience, you’ll be happy to hear it usually subsides by the second trimester or around your 16th to 18th weeks of pregnancy.

Embracing the Temporary, Yet Annoying, Symptoms of Pregnancy Nausea

We get it: morning sickness sucks. The situation’s silver lining, however, is that it will NOT last forever. Pregnancy nausea is annoying, painful, and even disgusting, but try to remain focused on the fact that it’s a temporary part of pregnancy.

Pretty soon, you’ll move past this annoying chapter and forget all the weeks and months you spent puking and snacking on ginger chews! (Or you’ll at least be able to move past it!).

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What were your morning sickness symptoms like? How long did they last?