Morning Sickness – One of the Earliest Symptoms of Pregnancy
So, you’re late for your period, you’ve been feeling a little funny, and you finally decided to use a pregnancy test? Or maybe you suspected that the timing was right this month, and you got a five day early pregnancy test and used it as soon as you could?
Regardless, the lines have spoken, and you’re pregnant! Congratulations! This is such an exciting, and wonderful time, as you wonder if it’s really true, set up care providers, and anxiously await your first ultrasound so you can see your bean sized little person bouncing around and listen to their strong little heart beat.
The terror and the excitement can be a mixed sensation, but don’t worry – every bit of the ride is worth it, and every little symptom is an indication of miracles going down!
Why Do I Feel Like A Carsick Sea Slug?
So, let’s talk about one of the first things you’ll have to deal with. Or maybe not – some women experience little to no morning sickness, but for the vast majority (75-80%) of pregnant women have some level of morning sickness, with more than half having severe enough morning sickness to vomit.
The good news is, it doesn’t last forever. And even better news? While not feeling any morning sickness does not indicate any negatives, morning sickness is actually linked to less preterm labor and higher IQ in children!
Cornell University also did a study indicating that morning sickness is a natural mechanism for protecting the baby during its most vulnerable stages of development!
How Severe Does Morning Sickness Get?
Normal: Mild nausea that seems to be triggered by strong food smells
Normal: Moderate nausea that seems to be around the clock
Normal: Sudden, intense nausea that comes and goes at random times.
Normal: Small waves of nausea.
Normal: Throwing up every day.
Normal: Throwing up every time you eat.
Normal: Vomiting on a regular basis but without nausea in between.
Normal: Etc, etc, etc
NORMAL: Pretty much anything.
Morning sickness can range from mild nausea for a couple of weeks to throwing up multiple times a day for several months. Heightened senses of smell and taste can cause food aversions that trigger morning sickness, or it can be around the clock.
The best thing to do is to not let it knock you down until you just cannot keep going. If you can get out of the house, do it! Morning sickness can be emotionally overwhelming, so staying busy and making yourself go for a walk or get out shopping can break up the frustration of weeks of not feeling well.
If you can keep moving then the fresh air and exercise will keep you healthier and prevent some of the aches and pains that come later on.
When Does Morning Sickness Start?
So, the big question: When is my morning sickness going to start?
Unfortunately, I can’t say, other than to give you a general window. Most times, nausea during pregnancy starts between 4-7 weeks. With my twin pregnancy I was throwing up at 25 days from the intense load of hormones. With my boy pregnancy I didn’t feel sick until about 6 weeks. With my girl pregnancy I started throwing up just a couple of days after I tested positive, so around 4.5 weeks.
It can be different for everybody, which is good news, since there’s always a chance it just won’t hit as hard as you’ve heard that it will from your girlfriends, your aunt Susan, your mother, and all your coworkers keep on insisting that it will!
When Does Morning Sickness Peak?
Once again, there really isn’t a set normal for this, but it’s loosely believed that morning sickness correlates with the organ developments of your baby, and for many women the worst week of morning sickness is right around week 9.
Most women will need to take it pretty easy for their worst week, but again, if you can keep moving it will help with your overall mood and health! Remember, these early stages of development are when the organs in your baby’s body are beginning to function — this is a big time for your little one!
When Will My Morning Sickness Go Away?
I mean, seriously, can a girl catch a break? How long does morning sickness last?
Well, for most, morning sickness tapers off between 13-18 weeks. There are some who are nauseated for the duration of their pregnancy, so there’s no guarantee, but you can hope to be feeling more like yourself for your second and third trimesters.
For my twin pregnancy I was sick until 22 weeks, and then continued to get motion sickness very easily and had extreme food aversions for the rest of my pregnancy, but with my boy pregnancy I was feeling great by 14 weeks.
It varies with each person and each pregnancy, but you can expect to be doing better before the half way point!
What Can I Do To Help Alleviate Morning Sickness?
There are some medications that your Dr can prescribe if your morning sickness is severe enough that you are struggling with weight loss and dehydration, but it’s best to avoid unnecessary medications during pregnancy, so try a few of these basic ideas first.
· Keep food timers
Eating frequently so that your stomach is not empty can help. Those pesky stomach acids can be major troublemakers with the nausea. Keep snacks like nuts and crackers on hand and make sure to nibble every couple of hours.
· Keep food on your nightstand
Make sure to eat a few bites before you get out of bed so that you aren’t up and around on an empty stomach! Getting up without eating is a sure way to throw the first few hours of your day into a rough pattern. My favorite was to put a plain bagel in a sandwhich bag the night before and spend 10 minutes nibbling it when I woke up in the morning.
· Sip fluids all day
Staying hydrated is very important, but it’s hard on your stomach to drink a large glass all at once. Keep a full cup with a straw on hand so that you can make hydration an all day event.
· Sniff Peppermint or Lemon
Since morning sickness is often triggered by smells, carry a bottle of peppermint oil or some lemon slices in a baggy with you. If a smell gets overwhelming, grab your baggie and take a deep smell. It can help. I promise.
And you have a baggie over your face for if it doesn’t and things happen.
· Make Micro Portion Plates
Redundant tastes, as well as lingering tastes, can be huge triggers for me, so try to make a plate with a lot of fresh flavors to snack on.
Stocking your fridge and freezer with individual sized treats like baybel and string cheeses, salted and honey roasted nuts, fruits and fresh veggies, mild beef jerkies, mini bagles, individual bags of chips, fruit cups, yogurts, and etc, can mean that you can get through a good sized pile of food before the next aversion or nausea wave hits.
I remember one time when it had been three days since I’d eaten a meal sized portion and we went to an event that had a catered appetizer buffet. I ate all evening on bacon wrapped dates, black bean salsa and chips, fresh strawberries, mini cheesecakes and quiches, and bbq chicken bites.
By rotating flavors and only taking one or two bites of any one thing, I was able to avoid getting sick. My husband was awfully relieved to see me getting some much needed calories!
· Ginger Is Your Friend
Ginger has long been known to help ease morning sickness, and any other nausea issues, so enjoy! I’ve never liked ginger, but during my last pregnancy, I found myself stealing the ginger from my husband’s sushi plate.
I still didn’t like the taste, but the cool, burning, clean taste was a relief! Ginger tea, pickled ginger, real ginger ale — they can all help!
· Avoid Bright Screens and Winding Roads
Electronic screens have undetectable strobe light effects that can trigger motion sickness, which is one of the big contributors to morning sickness. Minimizing your screen time, or dimming your screen as much as possible, can help with this.
You may have never gotten car sickness before, but pregnancy will likely change that, too, so avoid the scenic routes and stick to the flat, straight highways as much as possible!
Try not to sit in the back seat of vehicles (claim your pregnant mamma status and call shotgun!) where the bumps and g’s are accentuated, and for heaven’s sake, don’t look at your phone while the car is turning.
When Morning Sickness Kicks Your Buttocks
That’s ok. It happens. It won’t last forever. Grab a barf bucket and a bag of bland chips, don’t forget a big glass of water, and cozy up with a large print book. Take a few days off. Just rest. It’s hard work that your body is doing – it needs a break! You’re doing a good thing and it will be over soon.
HG – The Morning Sickness That You Can’t Fight
Hyperemesis gravidarum – the medical name for “morning sickness from hell”. No, really. This is not something you want to mess with. Less than one half of one percent (0.05) women experience HG, but if it’s you, then get some help.
If you’re not keeping any food or water down and it isn’t improving, call your doctor. They’ll know how long your body can handle it and ways to help. They might need you to go in for an IV, and there will likely be meds they prescribe to keep you from being damaged by this extreme version of morning sickness.
Hang in there, mamma, it’ll go away, and a beautiful little human will soon be in your arms, thanking you with their sweet new smell and delicious soft skin.