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Pregnancy and nausea: Learn when it ends

If you're still in your first trimester, you may be wondering when and if your morning sickness will ever end. Take heart, mom-to-be. For most women, there's an end in sight, but for now it may help to know a little about this condition and why it even occurs.

What's it all about?

Morning sickness is when you have an upset stomach and you vomit during pregnancy. It affects up to 90% of moms-to-be—typically beginning around the fifth week of pregnancy. Morning sickness can happen at any time of day—not just around breakfast time. 

Although morning sickness can feel a little different for every woman, it's usually mild. In fact, some women will only have nausea (without vomiting) for a short time each morning.

What causes the queasiness?

No one knows for sure what causes morning sickness. But several things—including hormone changes during pregnancy and genetics—may play a role. Also, you may be more likely to have morning sickness if you:

  • Had it in a previous pregnancy. 
  • Have a family history of morning sickness. 
  • Have other gastrointestinal problems, like reflux.
  • Have migraines or motion sickness. 
  • Are having twins, triplets or more. 

Good news! Morning sickness gets better

For most women, morning sickness is worst at around the ninth week of pregnancy. But it typically goes away during the second trimester (around 14 to 18 weeks). Unfortunately, morning sickness can last into the third trimester for some. A few women may even have it throughout their pregnancy. 

Morning sickness can feel awful. But unless you lose weight and can't keep anything down, it usually shouldn't harm your pregnancy. That said, many women with mild morning sickness may gain less weight at first. But it's usually not a problem. Most weight gain occurs later in pregnancy, after morning sickness has passed.

What helps?

If you find yourself feeling sick, experts say some things you can do to feel better include:

  • Avoiding eating too little or too much, which can make nausea worse. Try eating several smaller meals instead of three large ones. Have a small snack as soon as you feel hunger coming.
  • Avoiding nausea triggers, such as spicy or fatty foods and strong odors. 
  • Brushing your teeth right after eating. 
  • Avoiding lying down right after a meal. 
  • Taking your prenatal vitamin at night. It's often easier to stomach the iron in prenatals at night than in the morning.  
  • Talking with your doctor about medications such as vitamin B6 and doxylamine, which can reduce nausea symptoms. They're considered safe for pregnant women. 

Remember to always talk to your doctor before trying any vitamin, herb or other medicinal treatment that's supposed to help minimize pregnancy nausea. Same goes for alternative treatments, like ginger, acupuncture or acupressure (special wristbands that apply pressure to the wrist). Many women say that these options help with their nausea, but it's best to consult your doctor first.

When to get help

While it's not as common, some women develop severe morning sickness, called hyperemesis gravidarum. They vomit several times a day, which causes them to lose too much weight. Be sure to talk to your doctor right away if that happens to you, or if you:

  • Have signs of dehydration—for instance, dark urine or fewer toilet trips. 
  • Can't keep any food or liquids down. 
  • Have pains or cramps in your stomach or pelvic area. 
  • Develop a fever or diarrhea along with morning sickness.

Want more pregnancy updates?

Check out the complete guide to first trimester tests.

Sources: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; UpToDate

Reviewed 1/10/2023

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