Pregnancy isn’t all glowing skin and lustrous hair: there’s also the need to pee all the time, back pain, and vomiting. Yes, we’re talking about morning sickness. The term “morning sickness” is something of a misnomer, because the need to puke can hit pregnant people at any time of day. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, generally, nausea and vomiting will begin before the nine-week mark. For some people, nausea is the first sign that they're pregnant. Generally, morning sickness will be over by the second trimester, though it’s not unusual for it to continue for longer.
Morning sickness may be mild (defined as nausea lasting for a short time each day and infrequent vomiting) or severe (nausea lasting for several hours each day and vomiting more than twice a day). Along with nausea, people may develop an intolerance to certain foods, drinks and smells (coffee is a common culprit). People who are carrying multiples, have a history of motion sickness or migraines, or have a parent or sibling who experienced severe morning sickness are more at risk.
Nausea and vomiting is usually not harmful to the fetus, and some research indicates that more severe morning sickness may be linked to a lower risk of miscarriage or carrying a female fetus. But of course, morning sickness is not pleasant for you! If you’re concerned by how much you’re vomiting, check in with your doctor. If you’re experiencing pain, a fever, a headache, or a swollen thyroid gland, another medical condition may be contributing to your nausea.
So, what can you do about morning sickness? While time and the progression of your pregnancy is the main factor, you can alleviate symptoms by taking a multivitamin; eating dry toast or crackers before you get out of bed; drinking fluids; eating smaller, more frequent meals; eating bland, low-fat foods such as toast, rice, and bananas; and sipping ginger ale or ginger tea made with real ginger. Your doctor might also recommend you take Vitamin B6 or doxylamine, or prescribe medication to prevent vomiting.
Very severe morning sickness is called hyperemesis gravidarum. This condition affects up to 3% of pregnancies — it’s gained a lot of attention in recent years, thanks to Kate Middleton and Amy Schumer going public with their experiences. Hyperemesis gravidarum is diagnosed when the pregnant person has lost 5% of their pre-pregnancy weight and is experiencing symptoms of dehydration. Treatment and sometimes a stay in the hospital is needed. While hyperemesis gravidarum may fade after the first trimester, in many cases, it persists throughout the pregnancy.