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Morning Sickness Blues

Nausea and vomiting are common in early pregnancy. Learn ways to manage the discomfort.

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Pregnancy can be a time of great joy and anticipation. But your happiness may be dampened by nausea and vomiting — something often referred to as morning sickness.

What is morning sickness?

Despite its name, morning sickness — nausea and vomiting during pregnancy — is not necessarily confined to the morning. You may have it at any time of the day. It might last a few weeks or throughout your pregnancy. You might feel a little queasy or you might have severe nausea and vomiting.

And it’s common. Seventy to 85 percent of pregnant women have morning sickness during the first trimester.

No one knows exactly what causes morning sickness. Hormonal changes early in pregnancy are believed to play a role. For example, women with extreme morning sickness have high levels of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which is released by the placenta. Hormones may possibly contribute to the symptoms. Your symptoms may be made worse by hunger, fatigue, and other factors.

How long will it last?

Morning sickness disappears in the fourth month for about half of the women who have it. Some women, though, have symptoms throughout their pregnancy.

Is my nausea bad for my baby?

Morning sickness doesn't generally harm the fetus. In fact, women with morning sickness miscarry less often. But it can become a problem if you can't keep enough foods or fluids down. This can deprive the fetus of needed nutrition.

Are there tips for coping with morning sickness?

Yes. Some work better than others, depending on the woman. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Take a multivitamin.
  • Eat crackers before you get out of bed each morning.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day.
  • Stay away from fatty foods.
  • Try eating foods that are blander and less spicy.
  • Try eating or drinking something with real ginger (non-diet ginger ale, ginger tea or ginger pops).
  • Do not eat foods or smells that bother you.

Are there any medicines for morning sickness?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that the use of vitamin B6 alone or together with doxylamine is safe and effective for nausea. If the ideas above don’t help, ask your doctor if you can try vitamin B6 with doxylamine.

Intravenous fluids and anti-nausea medications may be needed in cases of severe morning sickness. Dehydration is a key concern for women with severe morning sickness.

Talk to your doctor

Have a conversation early on with your doctor about morning sickness or the potential for morning sickness. Follow your doctor’s advice about when to call him or her and when to seek more medical care.

Letting your doctor know about your morning sickness is especially important if you live with a long-term illness such as diabetes or take medication for long-term illness. If you have diabetes, it’s important to make a plan with your doctor about morning sickness so you can understand how it could affect your diabetes treatment plan. 

By Emily Gurnon, Contributing Writer

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Your Pregnancy and Childbirth, 6th ed. Washington, DC; ACOG 2015.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Morning sickness: Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Accessed January 3, 2020.
UpToDate. Patient information: Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Accessed January 3, 2020. Pregnancy: Body changes and discomforts. Accessed January 3, 2020.

Last Updated: January 3, 2020