Morning sickness

Description

The term "morning sickness" is used to describe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Some women also have the symptoms of dizziness and headaches.

Morning Sickness Myths and Facts

Morning sickness occurs only in the morning.

The correct answer is myth. Morning sickness got its name because it often occurs in the morning. However, nausea and vomiting that occurs with pregnancy can occur at any time of the day.

Morning sickness is very common.

The correct answer is fact. Most pregnant women have at least some nausea and about a third have vomiting.

Having morning sickness after your first three months means that something is wrong.

The correct answer is myth. Morning sickness often begins during the first month of pregnancy and continues through the 3rd or 4th month. Some women have nausea and vomiting through their entire pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about ways to manage morning sickness.

Morning sickness will harm your baby.

The correct answer is false. Morning sickness won't hurt your baby in any way unless you lose weight because of severe vomiting. Mild weight loss during the first trimester is not uncommon and is not harmful to the baby. Call your doctor if you can't keep any food down or you lose more than 2 pounds in one week.

If you have severe morning sickness with one pregnancy, you will have it with later pregnancies.

The correct answer is myth. You can have morning sickness with one pregnancy, and not have it during the next.

If you have severe morning sickness, you may be having twins or triplets.

The correct answer is fact. Nausea in pregnancy is more common and can be worse with twins or triplets. But remember, most women who have morning sickness are not carrying twins or triplets

Morning sickness can cause your body to not have as much water and fluids as it should.

The correct answer is true. This condition is called hyperemesis gravidarum. Vitamin B6 pills or medicine from your doctor may help. Or you may need to receive fluids through your vein (IV). Call your doctor right away if you have severe nausea and vomiting.

Which if the following can make morning sickness worse?

The correct answer is all of the above. Keeping a diary and writing down what you eat and how you feel may help you identify things that make you feel worse.

Which if the following can help reduce nausea?

The correct answer is any of the above. Ginger has been shown to help ease nausea. Instead of large meals, snack as often as every 1 - 2 hours during the day and drink plenty of fluids. Avoid foods high in fat and salt, but low in nutrition.

You should call your doctor if you notice which of the following symptoms:

The correct answer is any of the above. Having morning sickness past your 4th month is often normal, but it's a good idea to get it checked out. You should call your doctor right away if you vomit blood or material that looks like coffee grounds.

Alternative Names

Pregnancy - morning sickness; Prenatal care - morning sickness

More About Morning Sickness

Morning sickness often begins 4 to 6 weeks after conception. It may continue until the 4th month of pregnancy. Some women have morning sickness during their entire pregnancy. This happens most often for women who are carrying more than one baby.

It is called morning sickness because the symptoms are more likely to occur early in the day, but they can occur at any time. For some women, morning sickness lasts all day.

The exact cause of morning sickness is not known.

  • Most experts think changes in the woman's hormone levels during pregnancy cause it.
  • Other factors that can make the nausea worse include a pregnant woman's enhanced sense of smell and gastric reflux.

Morning sickness that is not severe does not hurt your baby in any way. In fact:

  • It may even be a sign that all is well with you and your baby.
  • Morning sickness may be associated with a lower risk of miscarriage.
  • Your symptoms probably show that the placenta is making all the right hormones for your growing baby.

When nausea and vomiting are severe, a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum may be diagnosed.

Eating and Drinking

Changing what you eat may help. Try these tips:

  • Eat a lot of protein and carbohydrates. Try peanut butter on apple slices or celery. Also try nuts, cheese and crackers, and low-fat dairy products like milk, cottage cheese, and yogurt.
  • Bland foods, such as gelatin, frozen desserts, broth, ginger ale, and saltine crackers, also soothe the stomach.
  • Avoid eating foods that are high in fat and salt.
  • Try to eat before you get hungry and before nausea occurs.
  • Eat a few soda crackers or dry toast when you get up at night to go to the bathroom or before you get out of bed in the morning.
  • Avoid large meals. Instead, have a snack as often as every 1 to 2 hours during the day. DO NOT let yourself get too hungry or too full.
  • Drink plenty of liquids.
  • Try to drink between meals rather than with meals so that your stomach does not get too full.
  • Seltzer, ginger ale, or other sparkling waters may help control symptoms.

Foods that contain ginger may also help. Some of these are ginger tea and ginger candy, along with ginger ale. Check to see that they have ginger in them rather than just ginger flavoring.

What Else Can I Try?

Try changing how you take your prenatal vitamins.

  • Take them at night, since the iron they contain may irritate your stomach. At night, you might be able to sleep through this. Also take them with a little food, not on an empty stomach.
  • You may have to try several different brands of prenatal vitamins before finding one you can tolerate.
  • You can also try cutting your prenatal vitamins in half. Take half in the morning and the other half at night.

Some other tips are:

  • Keep your morning activities slow and calm.
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces that trap food odors or other smells.
  • DO NOT smoke cigarettes or be in areas where people are smoking.
  • Get extra sleep and try to lessen stress as much as possible.

Try acupressure wristbands that apply pressure to specific points on your wrist. Often these are used to ease motion sickness. You can find them at drug stores, health food stores, travel stores, and online.

Try acupuncture. Some acupuncturists are trained to work with pregnant women. Talk to your health care provider beforehand.

Are There Any Drugs To Treat Morning Sickness?

Vitamin B6 (100 mg or less daily) has been shown to ease symptoms of morning sickness. Many providers recommend trying it first before trying other medicines.

Diclegis, a combination of doxylamine succinate and pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating morning sickness.

Do not take any medicines for morning sickness without talking with your provider first. Your provider may not advise medicines to prevent nausea unless your vomiting is severe and will not stop.

In severe cases, you may be admitted to the hospital, where you will receive fluids through an IV (into your vein). Your provider might prescribe other medicines if your morning sickness is severe.

When to Call the Doctor

  • Your morning sickness does not improve after trying home remedies.
  • You are vomiting blood or something that looks like coffee grounds.
  • You lose more than 2 pounds (1 kilogram) in a week.
  • You have severe vomiting that will not stop. This can cause dehydration (not having enough fluid in your body) and malnutrition (not having enough nutrients in your body).

References

Matthews A, Haas DM, O'Mathúna DP, Dowswell T. Interventions for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(9):CD007575. PMID: 26348534 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26348534.

West EH, Hark L, Catalano PM. Nutrition during pregnancy. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 7.

Review Date: 
9/25/2018
Reviewed By: 
John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.