Nothing quite thrusts you in the realities of pregnancy as quick as morning sickness does. Just after the excitement of seeing a positive pregnancy test comes the discomfort of morning sickness.
What is Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness, which is nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, affects the majority of women. Around 50% of women experience vomiting, and 70% of women experience nausea.1 (And some research suggests as many as 90% of women experience nausea.2) And, despite the term “morning sickness,” the discomfort can strike at any time of day…and even last all day.
Women usually begin experiencing morning sickness before 9 weeks of pregnancy. (And for some women, it is sometimes one of the first signs of pregnancy, aside from a missed period.) For most women, morning sickness goes away by the second trimester. In more rare cases, morning sickness may last months, or even throughout the entire pregnancy.
Is Morning Sickness Safe for My Baby?
Outside of extreme and/or severe scenarios, keep in mind that morning sickness is completely safe for you and your baby, although it may be uncomfortable (and honestly, sometimes a little frustrating!). As a matter of fact, research suggests that women who experience morning sickness are less likely to miscarry — 3.2 times less!3
So, while you may feel sick and unpleasant, morning sickness can be a promising sign that you’re well on your way to hearing your baby’s heartbeat around weeks 8 or 10.
Do I Need to See a Doctor for Morning Sickness?
Because morning sickness is par for the course during pregnancy, there typically isn’t a need to see your OB outside of your monthly visits during your first trimester.
Some women experience nausea and/or vomiting a couple of times a day for a few hours, and for others, the symptoms are persistent and severe. In very rare cases (about 2-3% of women) women experience hyperemesis gravidarum. This is the most severe form of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, and may be diagnosed when a woman has lost 5% of her prepregnancy weight and has other problems related to dehydration (loss of body fluids).
It may be time to see a doctor when:
- The nausea or vomiting is severe
- You pass only a small amount of urine or it’s dark in color
- You can’t keep down liquids
- You feel dizzy or faint when you stand up
- Your heart races
What Helps with Morning Sickness?
While there isn’t a cure for morning sickness, there are some ways to alleviate your nausea and vomiting — keep in mind though, nothing is a one-size fits all approach. (And yes, there is some truth to the “saltines and ginger ale” wisdom you’ve heard from family and friends.)
- Eat small meals throughout the day: Eating heavy meals that sit in your stomach can make your nausea worse. Focus on eating six small meals throughout the day, rather than three big meals.
- Eat bland foods: While you might already be craving a cheeseburger, you’ll want to stick to bland foods if you’re experiencing morning sickness. Avoid foods that are greasy, spicy, and have strong smells. Saltines, sandwiches (heated or without deli meat to avoid listeria), vegetables, fruits, toast, and smoothies may quickly become your go-to if you struggle keeping food down.
- Add Ginger to Your Diet: In addition to your bland diet, add ginger! Adding ginger root to smoothies, drinking a glass of ginger ale, or eating the vegetable can ease digestion and an upset stomach, according to a variety of studies. If the flavor of ginger is too much for you, you may enjoy ginger candies — such as Gin Gins or Gem Gems Ginger Candy.
- Take Vitamin B6: Some studies show that vitamin B6 can help alleviate symptoms of nausea, although may not be helpful with vomiting. You can purchase a B6 vitamin (after consulting your OB about suggested milligrams), or start by eating foods rich in B6. Some of these foods include: salmon, chicken breast, chickpeas, potatoes, bananas, ground beef, rice, nuts, and spinach. (So if you can muster the smell and/or taste of those, eat up!)
- Don’t Forget Electrolytes: Electrolytes are definitely a top priority for women with more severe morning sickness symptoms. Electrolytes are important for replenishing your body and avoiding dehydration, which can be common for women with morning sickness. Avoid sugary options like Pedialyte, Gatorade and Body Armor, and go for an all-natural product like Ultima Replenisher.
- Get Plenty of Rest: During your first trimester you’re likely already experiencing fatigue as your body goes through a large number of physical and hormonal changes. Nausea and vomiting can add to this fatigue. Be sure to get plenty of rest!
Remember to Listen to Your Body!
Listening to your body throughout your entire pregnancy is important, so start early in the first trimester. If a food you used to love now has a funny flavor or smell, don’t eat it. If something makes you feel sick, even if you know it is good for you, don’t feel like you need to eat it. If you’re tired, rest. If you feel as though your morning symptoms are severe, call your providers. Only you know exactly how you feel — and don’t be afraid to speak up.