When does morning sickness start?

Morning sickness is quite possibly the most common and widely discussed pregnancy symptom. If you’ve just found out your pregnant you might wonder when (or if!) it will start. But what causes it? Will you definitely get it? And, when does morning sickness start?

What is morning sickness?

Morning sickness refers to nausea and sometimes vomiting associated with pregnancy. Despite its name, morning sickness can occur at any time of the day or night. It affects a significant number of pregnant women, especially during the first trimester.

pregnant lady slumped over toilet with morning sickness

What causes morning sickness?

The exact cause of morning sickness isn’t fully understood, but it is believed to be related to the rise in pregnancy hormones. Specifically, the levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone rise rapidly during early pregnancy, which is thought to trigger nausea. Additionally, elevated oestrogen levels and other bodily changes can contribute to these symptoms.

It is important to note that every woman and pregnancy is different. Some women do not experience any morning sickness and have completely healthy pregnancies. On the other end of the spectrum, some women experience severe morning sickness, known as hyperemesis gravidarum, which can require medical attention. It is very hard to know how, or if, you will be affected especially if it is your first pregnancy but if you have any concerns at all your midwife is there to support you through your pregnancy.

A woman dressed in grey, sat in bed holding her pregnancy bump

When does morning sickness start?

Typically, pregnancy related nausea starts in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and clears up sometime between 16 and 20 weeks. Some women report feelings of nausea even before a pregnancy test turns positive although this is unusual. A small number of women are unfortunate enough to experience it (with or without vomiting) throughout their whole pregnancy and will require additional support to avoid dehydration however this is extremely rare.

A pregnant lady lying on a bed using pregnancy pillows trying to ease morning sickness

What can I do to help myself?

If you are vomiting rather than just feeling sick it is critical to ensure you keep yourself hydrated. Small, frequent sips of water will be kinder on your stomach than big gulps. If at any point you have any concerns or cannot keep fluids down you must seek medical advice. If you are mostly grappling with nausea these tips may help:

  • eat something small before getting out of a bed – crackers are ideal
  • get lots of rest and try to manage your stress – if you’re struggling with sleep a pregnancy pillow may help
  • try not to let yourself get hungry – small frequent meals and snacks can help
  • ginger is reported to ease feelings of nausea and ginger biscuits are often an expectants mother’s go to choice
A pile of freshly made ginger biscuits to aid morning sickess

Dietary Tips to Manage Morning Sickness

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. If plain water is unappealing, try flavoured waters or herbal teas.
  • Eat Bland Foods: Foods like toast, rice and bananas are easier to digest and less likely to trigger nausea.
  • Avoid Strong Smells and Flavours: Spicy, fatty, or highly seasoned foods can exacerbate nausea. Stick to mild flavours and avoid cooking odours that might trigger symptoms.
  • Cold Foods: Sometimes cold foods, like chilled fruit or yoghurt, are easier to tolerate than hot foods.

Natural Remedies for Morning Sickness

In addition to ginger, other natural remedies can help alleviate morning sickness:

  • Peppermint: Peppermint tea or peppermint essential oil (used in a diffuser) can soothe nausea.
  • Lemon: The scent of lemon or sucking on lemon candies can provide relief for some women.
  • Acupressure: Applying pressure to specific points on the body, such as the wrists, can help reduce nausea. Acupressure wristbands (sea sickness wristbands) are designed for this purpose.
lemons on tree

When to seek medical help

If you experience any of the following symptoms, it is important to contact your midwife or GP:

  • Inability to keep any food or liquids down for more than 24 hours
  • Severe abdominal pain or cramping
  • Signs of dehydration (dark urine, dizziness, or infrequent urination)
  • Weight loss of more than 5% of your pre-pregnancy weight

Your midwife is there to support you throughout your pregnancy. No question is too small or silly, so don’t hesitate to ask for advice and assistance. If you are experiencing extreme nausea or vomiting and have not yet met with your midwife, contact your GP or call 111 for immediate support.

Morning sickness, while uncomfortable, is a common part of pregnancy for many women. Understanding the causes and knowing how to manage the symptoms can make a significant difference in your comfort and wellbeing. By staying informed and seeking support when needed, you can navigate morning sickness with greater ease and focus on the joy of your upcoming arrival.

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