Morning sickness can often be first sign that you’re pregnant – and despite its name, can actually happen any time of day or night. It’s also extremely common affecting over 80% of mums-to-be and is nothing to be too worried about, but it’s best to understand as much as possible to help make it easier.
At a glance
- Morning sickness can often be first sign that you’re pregnant
- Some morning sickness is just nausea without the vomiting
- Some women swear by using ginger to ward off sickness
What causes morning sickness?
It’s actually still unknown exactly why one of the first signs of pregnancy involves spending a lot of time feeling nauseas or being sick. It’s most likely that the feelings of nausea are all down to pesky hormones, particularly Beta hCG, although some studies have suggested that it could be due to a lack of vitamin B6, too but there is no conclusive evidence to support this.
Despite its name, not all women actually throw up with their morning sickness – some might just have the feelings of nausea without vomiting at all.
Will morning sickness harm my baby?
It’s a common worry for mums-to-be that being sick a lot will affect their baby’s development. Don’t worry, morning sickness will have no adverse effects on your baby as long as you’re still able to eat and drink something, however small it is.
It might be that you can only eat a certain type of food without feeling nauseous, that’s fine, go with what feels right and what stays down. There’s plenty of time during your pregnancy for your baby to get all the nutrients it needs, so focus on eating and drinking whatever it is that you can.
One important nutrient you baby will require is Folic acid. This helps your baby’s spine and nervous system to develop, so take a daily supplement of folic acid to help development.
Morning sickness is actually a good sign for pregnancy, it means that your hormone levels are high enough to sustain the pregnancy for the duration and is nothing to be worried about.
How long will morning sickness last?
There’s no hard and fast rules as to when you can expect morning sickness to start and when you can expect it to stop. It will vary from person to person, but generally you can expect morning sickness to start when you’re around 6 weeks pregnant and can be the first sign for many that they are pregnant.
The length of time the symptoms last can again vary, but for 9 out of 10 women they should ease up when you’re 14 weeks to 16 weeks pregnant and your morning sickness should stop completely not long after. There might be cases where nausea continues for longer, or even for the duration of pregnancy but this is rare. If you feel like your symptoms are particularly severe you may have hyperemesis gravidarum and should seek medical attention if you believe you do.
What can I do to help?
Whilst there’s no magic ‘cure’ for morning sickness, there’s steps you can take to help alleviate some of the symptoms to ensure you’re still able to carry on as normal (and possibly continue to hide the fact you’re pregnant!)
Avoiding dehydration can really help but try regular sips of fluid rather than drinking a lot at once. Eating bland foods like dry toast or plain biscuits before getting up in the morning can help, as can taking it slowly first thing.
Throughout the day, you might find that eating little and often helps keep your nausea under control, again, sticking to plain foods such as bread, rice and pasta. Cold food might make you feel less sick too, as it does not give off as much of a smell as hot meals do. Often during morning sickness your sense of smell will be heightened leading to more foods making you feel nauseous.
Some women swear by using ginger to ward off sickness. You could try ginger tea, ginger ale or ginger biscuits – just don't overdo the biccies as they are full of sugar! Travel sickness acupressure wrist bands are also helpful for some mums-to-be.
It can also be helpful to ask people close to your for a little extra help – if someone can prepare your meals and cook for you it’ll help you avoid being around food too often.
Severe morning sickness
If you think your morning sickness is severe, talk to your doctor or midwife – they can give you medication if it is really affecting your day to day life. In rare cases, morning sickness can actually be a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), which can be very serious and require hospital treatment, so do not hesitate in getting medical attention if you think you think you are feeling worse than you probably should be.
For most women, morning sickness clears up by the third month of pregnancy, so as rough as you might feel now, it IS going to get better very soon!
“I find that eating little and often helps and I keep loads of snacky things in my desk drawer like dried fruit, anything with ginger in (tea, biscuits, sweets) as well as rice"