Right after finding out you're pregnant, one of the next questions usually is, when does morning sickness start?
The arrival of morning sickness during a pregnancy can often feel like a mixed blessing.
On one hand, you may find the queasiness and nausea to be a strange comfort.
It's a poorly-dressed messenger that reassures you that your pregnancy hormones are robust and all is going well.
On the other hand… well, if you've experienced morning sickness before, you'll know all about that. Its effects can often be underestimated, but morning sickness can be severely disruptive. It can cause lost time at work, difficulty with getting through daily activities and severely disrupting your enjoyment of the pregnancy.
When Does Morning Sickness Start?
So, when does morning sickness start? If you don't get it, is everything okay? Here’s everything you need to know about morning sickness:
How Common Is Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness is experienced by around 80% of women in the first trimester of pregnancy.
What Causes Morning Sickness?
Despite the fact that morning sickness is such a common pregnancy complaint, researchers still do not understand fully what causes it. Certainly it seems that pregnancy hormones, particularly hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) have a large role to play. hCG levels peak at around 10 weeks of gestation, which is when most women will experience the worst symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Most women will find the nausea and vomiting will resolve by week 16, but for some unfortunate women, the symptoms will continue for the remainder of the pregnancy.
It seems that hCG is not the only culprit involved in causing morning sickness. Changes in the levels of oestrogen and the thyroid hormone, thyroxin, may also have a role to play. Other possible causes may include blood pressure changes and changes to the way that your body metabolises carbohydrates during pregnancy.
There is a more severe version of morning sickness, which is known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). This affects around 2% of all pregnant women. If you're vomiting a number of times a day and are unable to eat or drink without being sick, you may have HG. You should seek medical advice as you may be at risk of serious dehydration.
Morning Sickness Can Feel Like All Day Sickness
Its so painfully ironic – while its called ‘morning’ sickness you can certainly experience it at any time of day – or all day. To me, morning sickness with my first pregnancy was like feeling hungover every single day, until about 14-15 weeks of pregnancy. It was awful! There is an old wives tale about morning sickness and gender too – find out if its thought you’re having a boy or girl.
No Morning Sickness – Is Something Wrong?
Don’t be mistaken for thinking that no morning sickness means that there is a problem with the pregnancy. Every individual pregnancy is unique – you may have bad morning sickness for one, and very little for the other. Some women just get no morning sickness, and say they’d feel more reassured if they did have morning sickness! But in this case, you’ll just have to count your blessings that you’re not sick.
Can I Prevent Morning Sickness?
It's probably not possible to prevent morning sickness, but some studies seem to suggest that taking prenatal vitamins before you become pregnant can reduce the chance of you experiencing it. Continuing your vitamins during the pregnancy may also help to reduce your symptoms, particularly if you are taking B6. Ask your doctor about the correct dosage.
Morning Sickness Remedies – What Works?
The way that you may experience morning sickness is very individual and so too will be the way that you react to the many possible remedies that are available. Try a few, but listen to your body till you find what works best for you:
Morning Sickness Remedy #1 – Acupressure Wrist Bands
A number of studies have shown that acupuncture can be helpful in relieving morning sickness. Many women have found specially designed wristbands effective. These can be purchased at many chemists and comprise a soft wristband with a small bead or button that stimulates an acupuncture point (the P6 or ‘Neiguan' point) on the underside of your wrist. Pushing down on the button before you get out of bed in the morning or any time that you feel nauseous can interrupt the feelings of sickness.
Morning Sickness Remedy #2 – Rest
This can be a difficult one for many women, but sometimes what your body really needs from you is rest! Don't try to bravely push through on your own. Now is the time to ask for help from your partner, family and friends. Take some time for yourself. If you need some time off work, that's fine too.
Morning Sickness Remedy #3 – Peppermint (or Ginger) Tea
Ginger has long been a traditional remedy for morning sickness, but some researchers are becoming concerned about the possible effects of ginger on the unborn baby. The amount of ginger contained in a cup of ginger herbal tea or a ginger biscuit shouldn't be anything to worry about but it would be wise to seek professional advice if you are planning to ingest significant amounts of raw ginger.
Alternatively, many women have found peppermint, in the form of sweets or tea, to be very effective in relieving their symptoms.
Morning Sickness Remedy #4 – Acceptance
There is no doubt that morning sickness is a physical condition, but that is not to say that the mind does not have a role to play as well. While you may not be able to rid yourself of morning sickness altogether, cultivating an attitude of acceptance that the nausea you are experiencing is an integral part of this part of your pregnancy can help. When the waves of nausea hit, try stilling your mind, breathe quietly and allow the waves to subside. This may not always work, but you may find with practice that you are able to control at least the milder bouts this way.
Morning Sickness Remedy #5 – Listen To Specially Designed Music
A relative newcomer to the remedy field, there are now CDs and apps available that use sound to interrupt the messages of nausea between the brain, vestibular system and gut. A popular version is called ‘morningwell' and it has had some very good results – relieving symptoms in 90% of the women that participated in a recent English study. You merely need to listen to the program through a set of headphones whenever you feel your symptoms arising.
Remedy #6 – Nausea Medication
For those who have terrible morning sickness and want medical help, there are some medications which can help with nausea. If you feel you can’t manage your morning sickness, speak to your doctor or midwife who can discuss your options and side effects of any medications.
No matter what remedies you try, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to keep hydrated and eat nutritious foods to stay healthy. It can be hard to eat certain foods with morning sickness, but try to eat a diet with plenty of fresh vegetables in a range of colours, leafy greens, protein (e.g. egg, fish, chicken, meat) and foods rich in good fats, for example avocado, eggs, coconut oil and salmon. Keep sugars, grains and caffeine to a minimum.