That dry mouth, can’t eat, want to vomit round the clock feeling that plagues so many of us during pregnancy––yup, today we’re talking about morning sickness. Which for many is better referred to as all-day sickness. Pregnancy nausea is a symptom that so many pregnant women deal with during the first trimester, and beyond!
Morning sickness can be mild for some, and for others, it can be downright debilitating. Too often mamas suffer silently because they’re waiting to announce their pregnancy at the end of the first trimester.
I don’t know about you, but I have an easier time dealing with symptoms when I better understand them. That’s why we put together this little morning sickness guide. You’ll find answers to questions like why it happens, when does morning sickness peak, when does morning sickness end, and how long it lasts.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, mama. And if there’s one thing for sure, the prize at the end of pregnancy sure is worth it 😉
What is morning sickness?
Morning sickness is a term used to describe pregnancy nausea. The two terms are often used interchangeably, even though morning sickness can strike any time of the day or night. The phrase comes from the fact that many women experience more significant nausea first thing in the morning.
Depending on the source, you’ll learn that morning sickness effects somewhere between 50%-80% of all pregnant women to some degree. Being pregnant with multiples, high levels of stress, extreme exhaustion, low blood sugar, and an empty stomach can all make morning sickness worse.
What causes morning sickness and pregnancy nausea?
The exact cause of morning sickness and why it affects some women more significantly than others isn’t fully understood. However, like with most things in pregnancy, the surge of the pregnancy hormone hCG is probably to blame.
Interestingly, hCG levels rise during the first trimester, and plateau or even decline as pregnancy progresses, possibly explaining why nausea relief usually comes around the same time.
Pregnancy nausea is often worse when your stomach is completely empty (like first thing in the morning), or when your blood sugar is low. As you can imagine, this can happen throughout the day if you aren’t mindful.
This knowledge can also help you combat the symptom! Carrying around small snacks or a preggie pop drop can prevent an empty stomach and stabilize your blood sugar. Both of which can keep that nauseous feeling away.
When does morning sickness peak?
Pregnancy nausea usually starts around week 6, and it tends to peak between weeks 9 and 11. Week 9 of pregnancy is when hCG levels are highest, which is why this coincides with a peak of symptoms. In other terms, a study of around 800 women found that around 17% of women had some degree of nausea in week 2 of pregnancy, and by week 8 around 57% were experiencing nausea (source).
Researchers from Cornell explain that morning sickness and other first-trimester symptoms peak when baby’s organ development is most susceptible to chemical disruption. They broadly define this peak as occurring between weeks 6 and 18.
When does morning sickness end? How long does morning sickness last?
When you’re in the thick of pregnancy nausea, you want to know one thing: when will it end! The American Pregnancy Association says that morning sickness ends for most by week 12.
A research study of 160 women found that 50% of women had relief from morning sickness by week 14 of pregnancy. For 90% of women, it subsides by week 22. An unlucky subset of mamas will have morning sickness continue throughout their pregnancy. This includes mamas suffering from severe morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum.
A study from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that morning sickness lasts an average of 35 days. Keep in mind that this includes mamas who only feel sick for a short time and those whose morning sickness persists well beyond the first trimester.
To give you a better idea, if your morning sickness begins around week 6, as it does for many, and ends in week 14, that’s about 8 weeks of nausea. Luckily, it’s pretty uncommon to feel sick all day, every day. You may even have days with little to no nausea in that time frame.
Familiarizing yourself with ways to relieve morning sickness and creating a survival kit to have with you at all times can really help!
More facts about morning sickness
Let’s take a look at some more facts about morning sickness to help you better understand and cope with this frustrating pregnancy symptom:
- Research supports that pregnancy nausea is associated with a lower chance of pregnancy loss. Women reporting morning sickness were 50-75% less likely to miscarry than those who did not have nausea (source)
- There is growing evidence of a link between morning sickness (specifically severe morning sickness) and gut health (source). For this reason, taking a daily probiotic might be a helpful line of defense against pregnancy nausea
- Instances of morning sickness are lower in societies and cultures that eat blander diets and higher in societies and cultures that eat more meats and strong-tasting vegetables (source)
- Morning sickness may be natures way of protecting our growing babies from possible food poisoning, exposure to toxins, and other chemicals that may impact their development (source)
Morning sickness isn’t forever!
While pregnancy nausea seems to linger forever when you’re in the thick of it, for most of you it will end. The second trimester will feel a whole lot more comfortable and is full of some fun and exciting pregnancy milestones! Until then, try to figure out a way to find some relief, get some extra rest, and focus on that sweet growing baby.
By: Alli Wittbold