In early pregnancy, one of the usual questions is: When does morning sickness start?
Shortly followed by: When does morning sickness end?
Morning sickness is a common pregnancy symptom that, in most women, usually strikes first thing in the morning.
Its name can be misleading, though, as many pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting at any time of the day.
It usually starts in the first trimester and the symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, are due to an increase in hormone levels.
The arrival of morning sickness symptoms during pregnancy can often feel like a mixed blessing.
On the one hand, you might find pregnancy symptoms such as queasiness and nausea to be a strange comfort.
Morning sickness can feel reassuring, telling you your pregnancy is going well.
But on the other hand, many women find severe morning sickness to be extremely debilitating.
Why do pregnant women get morning sickness?
When is it normal to experience morning sickness in pregnancy?
Remember, you’re not technically pregnant until around the second week of pregnancy when conception and implantation occurs.
This is when the embryo releases the pregnancy hormone, hCG – the hormone a pregnancy test looks for to let us know we’re pregnant.
Many women encounter morning sickness in the first trimester, at around 3 to 4 weeks of pregnancy.
Of the women who end up with morning sickness, most of them first experience it somewhere in the first 3-10 weeks, and it clusters around week 4-6.
“It started about 3 days after ovulation, and stopped at around 9 weeks. It came back on and off a couple times throughout the pregnancy” – Anna
“For me, it started at 6 weeks on the dot. I can even remember the exact moment. It lasted till about 16 weeks” – Michelle
I don’t have morning sickness – is something wrong?
National Institutes of Health research has some evidence suggesting morning sickness is a protective factor for the pregnancy.
If you don’t have morning sickness, however, it doesn’t automatically mean there’s a problem with your pregnancy.
After all, we already know around 20-50% of women will be lucky enough to avoid it.
However, some women who don’t have morning sickness say they’d feel more reassured if they did have it.
If you don’t experience it, you’ll just have to count your blessings that you aren’t sick.
Here are some factors that can contribute to morning sickness:
- Young maternal age
- Female babies
- First pregnancy
- Nausea and vomiting with previous pregnancies
- Family history of morning sickness
- Nausea whilst on contraceptives
- History of motion sickness
- Multiple pregnancies
“Out of all 5 of my pregnancies, my third was the worst for morning sickness! I was wondering why this one was so different to the first two as I had not really suffered much at all. Turns out I was having twins!” – Rene
When does morning sickness end?
This is the magic question!
When you’re going through morning sickness, it can feel like it will last forever. Knowing there is an end to it can be like a light at the end of the tunnel.
For most mums, morning sickness generally settles around 12-14 weeks.
This seems to coincide with the reduction in hCG levels, which are significantly lower from 10 weeks onwards.
For some mums, however, nausea and vomiting can last all the way through their pregnancy.
How common is morning sickness?
Around 50-80% of women experience some degree of morning sickness throughout the day in the first trimester of pregnancy.
The more severe nausea and vomiting is known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) and affects around 2% of all pregnant women.
If you’re vomiting every day and it’s affecting daily life activities such as eating or drinking, you could have HG.
You should talk to your doctor or healthcare provider and be medically reviewed, as you might be at risk of serious dehydration.
Even more seriously, excessive vomiting during pregnancy can lead to pregnancy loss.
Vomiting during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, can also cause weight loss and deplete you and your growing baby of essential nutrients.
“I had nothing for my first pregnancy. In my second, it was weeks 6-9, and in my third, weeks 6-11” – Kelly
“For me it never happened, except I stopped eating everything I used to love before” – Ruwaida
“I didn’t have morning sickness with my daughter. With my son, I threw up a few times but it was completely random. I’d go a few days with nothing, then throw up five times the next day. The worst for me was the randomness of it all. Never knew when I’d have to throw up, but once I did, it was all good. I consider myself lucky though” – Katarina
What does morning sickness feel like?
There’s a wide range of severity as far as morning sickness goes, and it can be different for each pregnancy.
Symptoms can range from mild to extremely debilitating.
This can really affect everyday living, especially when you have to work, drive kids to school or manage a toddler.
Typical symptoms include:
- Decrease in appetite
I asked members of the BellyBelly Facebook Community if they could describe what morning sickness felt like to them.
One of the most common responses was feeling as though they were constantly hungover or had motion sickness.
“A hangover from a party you weren’t invited to. Just this week I woke up and thought, ‘Oh girl, you shouldn’t have had that second glass of wine’. I haven’t had a glass of wine in 6 months” – Janet
“It’s different for different people. I was constantly throwing up in the morning and nauseous all day. Smells sometimes triggered me to throw up, and so did some foods. It’s pure exhaustion, and it makes you emotional as well” – Lydia
“I got tired and weak from not being able to keep much food down. Smells, textures and tastes made me gag. I felt like I had to pretend I was great and excited about having a baby, even though I’d rather curl up under a doona and hide until it’s all over.
“Working is awful, as the smallest things set my stomach off. Then I felt guilty that everyone around me had to cope with my lack of energy, enthusiasm, etc.” – Ruby
Can I prevent morning sickness?
It’s probably not possible to prevent it, but some studies seem to suggest taking prenatal vitamins before you become pregnant can help you avoid it.
Continuing your vitamins during pregnancy might also help to reduce your symptoms – particularly if you’re taking a vitamin B6 supplement.
On the other hand, some women find it difficult to stomach their multivitamins.
Have a chat with your naturopath for some advice on the best quality vitamins.
If tablets are a struggle, there might be alternatives that are easier to take.
Whole food vitamins are absorbed more easily and are less synthetic.
Over-the-counter vitamins tend to be lower in strength and absorbability.
Here’s a list of things you can do to prevent morning sickness:
- Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day
- Reduce fatty or acidic foods
- Sip water frequently throughout the day
- Avoid strong-smelling food
- Ask someone else to prepare your food
- Try Acupuncture
Listen closely to your body. It’s very good at telling you what you might not be able to tolerate.
If you have a very strong aversion to something, it’s a good sign your body doesn’t want it.
Morning sickness relief – what works best?
Are you seeking relief from morning sickness, or just want to be prepared?
Different remedies seem to work for different women.
“Had daily fresh juices with carrot and ginger… no morning sickness, and worked all the way through! Also never been on the Pill. Had two healthy munchkins” – Jenifer
“First four pregnancies, never had anything. Last four, resulting in two miscarriages and two births, I was sick all the way through” – Keisha
Many women who experience morning sickness find relief from home remedies, such as drinking ginger tea.
A mum I know eats cookies or dry biscuits as soon as she wakes, to help settle her tummy.
“When I was pregnant with my twins I suffered morning sickness for the first 12 weeks. It was horrible! I found eating either sweet or dry bikkies before getting out of bed really helpful!” – Rene
Try a few different remedies, but listen to your body until you find what works best for you.
See our list of the best morning sickness remedies.
What can partners do to help with morning sickness?
Having a partner who struggles constantly with nausea and vomiting can be hard.
Listening to them trying to keep their brekky down and then heaving into the toilet can leave you feeling useless.
Interestingly, a small percentage of partners can also suffer similar symptoms.
Try these 4 things to help her through so you don’t feel helpless:
#1 Ask her if she needs your help
She could either tell you to leave her alone, out of embarrassment or she’ll be grateful.
Holding her hair back or getting her a glass of water might be all she needs.
Either way, at least she knows you’re there to support her in whatever way she needs.
#2 Get to know the foods she enjoys and the food she dislikes
Offer to cook for her. That means she won’t have to prepare food, which can sometimes trigger nausea and vomiting.
When she’s around, try to avoid eating foods that you know trigger her nausea.
Just think of how much she’s sacrificing to bring your child into the world!
#3 Take the load off her around the house
Take away some of the stress, and take on more of her usual roles around the house.
She might be feeling too unwell to keep up, which can cause her further stress.
I’m sure she’ll be very appreciative.
#4 Keep an eye on her wellbeing
If your partner is feeling sick around the clock and barely able to keep anything down, ask if you can take her to see her doctor.
It could mean she is suffering HG – the more serious form of morning sickness – and needs medical help.
Whether it’s you or someone you love who’s struggling with morning sickness, try to remember it will all be worth it when you are looking at the beautiful baby you created together!