Morning sickness is one of the first telltale signs that you might be pregnant. Some women have a worse time with morning sickness than others. But most would agree that it’s one of the not-so-pleasant symptoms of early pregnancy.
If you’re struggling to get through your morning (or much of the day), you’re probably wondering how to treat morning sickness. And when is morning sickness the worst? Keep reading to learn more about morning sickness and tips for managing it.
What Is Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness is nausea and vomiting commonly occurring during the first trimester of pregnancy. It usually starts around your sixth week. Even though it’s called morning sickness, it can happen anytime during the day.
You might feel nauseous for a short time during the day and possibly vomit once or twice. Morning sickness isn’t dangerous for you or your unborn baby unless it’s severe enough to cause dehydration. However, it impacts your quality of life when you’re not feeling well.
Doctors aren’t sure what causes morning sickness, but they think it’s related to pregnancy hormones. Low blood sugar might also play a role.
Usually, morning sickness is mild, but up to 3% of women develop a severe form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum. This excessive nausea and vomiting can affect your ability to eat and drink. With hyperemesis gravidarum, you might need medicine to stop the vomiting and IV fluids to prevent dehydration.
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When Is Morning Sickness the Worst?
Many women expect that morning sickness will only happen in the morning — or that it will be worst in the morning. But morning sickness can happen at any time of day.
That said, your symptoms may be worse in the morning. That’s because your blood sugar is lowest when you don’t eat for long periods, like overnight. And low blood sugar may contribute to morning sickness.
For most women, morning sickness tends to vary based on how far along their pregnancy is. Morning sickness is often the worst around the ninth week and then gradually improves, and usually disappears by the 14th week. Occasionally, it lasts throughout pregnancy, but that’s not very common.
How to Treat Morning Sickness
There is no way to prevent or stop morning sickness, but these diet and lifestyle changes may help manage the symptoms:
- Start your day slowly. Feeling stressed and rushing out the door in the morning can worsen your symptoms.
- Eat carbohydrates like crackers or bread in the morning. They will raise your blood sugar. Some women feel better eating a few crackers before getting out of bed in the morning.
- Eat small but more frequent meals throughout the day. You might not feel like eating if you’re nauseous, but an empty stomach can worsen morning sickness. Try nourishing snacks and mini-meals, like trail mix, fruits, or scrambled eggs.
- Avoid heavy, greasy, fried foods or those with a strong odor. Stick to bland, higher carbohydrate foods instead. Good options include cereal, toast with peanut butter or jam, yogurt with fruit, or broth with rice.
- Drink more fluids to prevent dehydration. Peppermint tea, lemonade, ginger tea, or ginger ale might help soothe your stomach. Foods like soup, ice pops, or ice cream are also hydrating.
- Try a vitamin B6 supplement. It’s safe to take during pregnancy and can help reduce nausea. You can also ask your doctor about using doxylamine, an over-the-counter antihistamine and sleep aid that may help reduce your symptoms.
- Get plenty of rest. Early pregnancy is no time to burn the candle at both ends. Try to get to bed early, sleep in when you can, and take a nap when you need one.
- If you feel more nauseous after taking your prenatal vitamin, try taking it at bedtime with a light snack. Taking a prenatal vitamin before and during pregnancy can reduce your risk of having severe morning sickness, so don’t skip it.
When to See Your Doctor
It’s essential to contact your health care provider if you’re vomiting more than three or four times a day. If you can’t keep fluids down, you risk becoming dehydrated, which is dangerous for you and your baby. Warning signs of dehydration include:
- You’re making much less urine or none at all.
- Your urine is very dark in color.
- You feel dizzy, tired, or confused.
- Your heart is beating faster than usual.
You should also call your doctor if:
- You’re vomiting blood.
- Morning sickness doesn’t get better by your 14th week.
- You lose more than two pounds.
If diet and lifestyle changes don’t help, your doctor might recommend medication to help control extreme morning sickness. In rare cases, you may need to stay in the hospital, where doctors can treat you and provide fluids until your vomiting stops.
It’s not the most pleasant part of pregnancy, but morning sickness usually only lasts a few weeks. If you’re struggling through mild nausea and vomiting, rest assured that your body is doing what it needs. But if your morning sickness is extreme or impacting your life, make sure you contact your doctor for advice and help.
About UPMC Magee-Womens
Built upon our flagship, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, and its century-plus history of providing high-quality medical care for people at all stages of life, UPMC Magee-Womens is nationally renowned for its outstanding care for women and their families.
Our Magee-Womens network – from women’s imaging centers and specialty care to outpatient and hospital-based services – provides care throughout Pennsylvania, so the help you need is always close to home. More than 25,000 babies are born at our network hospitals each year, with 10,000 of those babies born at UPMC Magee in Pittsburgh, home to one of the largest NICUs in the country. The Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Magee in Pittsburgh as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health; U.S. News & World Report ranks Magee nationally in gynecology. The Magee-Womens Research Institute was the first and is the largest research institute in the U.S. devoted exclusively to women’s health and reproductive biology, with locations in Pittsburgh and Erie.