When Does Morning Sickness Start After Conception?

    Updated 09 January 2023 |
    Published 12 February 2019
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    Reviewed by Dr. Iryna Ilyich, Obstetrician and gynecologist, medical advisor, Flo Health Inc., Lithuania
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    Morning sickness — the nausea and vomiting that some pregnant people experience — is a common symptom of pregnancy. Affecting about 80 percent of pregnant people, morning sickness is often one of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy. Thankfully, this uncomfortable condition can be managed with some self-care tips. 

    Despite its name, “morning” sickness can happen at any time of the day. But when does morning sickness usually start, and what are its causes and treatments? These are some of the questions we will answer today, so read on.

    Why people feel morning sickness

    Medical researchers haven’t figured out exactly why morning sickness happens. However, the body’s reaction to the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) has been suggested as a possible cause. This hormone is produced after the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus. 

    What’s the deal with that?

    Discover more about nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

    Are morning sickness and nausea inevitable during pregnancy?

    Since morning sickness affects around 80 percent of pregnant people, it may feel like an unavoidable part of pregnancy. The likelihood increases with genetic predisposition and psychological discomfort. In other words, you’re more likely to develop nausea during pregnancy if your mom experienced it or if you’re experiencing stress or anxiety.

    However, some people don’t experience any symptoms of morning sickness. If you’re part of the 80 percent who does, though, some precautions and self-care tips can help manage the symptoms. Taking vitamin B6 during pregnancy can reduce the severity of morning sickness in some cases.

    Causes of morning sickness

    The exact reasons for morning sickness are unclear, but here are a few factors that may explain why it happens:

    Rising hCG levels: One of the possible reasons for morning sickness could be the body’s reaction to increasing levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG. The body begins to produce this hormone after the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. Nausea and vomiting linked to morning sickness may show that your body is trying to adjust to the changing hormones.

    In some cases, nausea and vomiting could signal some other medical conditions such as an ulcer, food-related issues, and thyroid or gallbladder disease. A health care provider might suspect one of these conditions if they are accompanied by symptoms such as abdominal pain or tenderness, fevers, headaches, or an enlarged thyroid gland.

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    How severe can morning sickness get?

    Everyone’s pregnancy is different, and so their morning sickness varies in severity from mild to extreme. For some people, the symptoms might include mild nausea and stomach discomfort a few times a day. About 1 percent of pregnant people experience extremely severe morning sickness symptoms and are diagnosed with a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum. People with hyperemesis gravidarum experience severe nausea, frequent vomiting, weight loss, and electrolyte imbalances. 

    This condition may be diagnosed when a person has lost five percent of their prepregnancy weight and has other problems related to dehydration.

    Nausea and vomiting can become more problematic if a person struggles to keep down food or fluids and begins to lose weight. When this happens, the fetus’s weight at birth may be affected.

    Call a health care provider if you have the following signs of dehydration:

    • You have a small amount of urine that is dark in color.
    • You feel dizzy or faint when standing up.
    • You have a racing or pounding heartbeat.

    Hospitalization is sometimes required in these cases, as some patients need a feeding tube and/or intravenous fluids to stay healthy.

    Pregnancy nausea

    Is it inevitable?

    How to treat morning sickness

    With some self-care tips, home remedies, and natural treatments, you can reduce some aspects of morning sickness. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

    • Vitamins: Taking vitamin B6 during pregnancy can reduce the severity of morning sickness. Make sure to ask your doctor for advice about the dosage.
    • Ginger: Ginger can reduce the nausea caused by morning sickness. Eating or drinking gingery foods and beverages can help ease your symptoms naturally.
    • Have small, frequent meals: Instead of a few heavy meals, try eating several small snacks throughout the day. This keeps your digestive system from getting overloaded, making it easier to keep food down. Simple, warm dishes such as soups can offer appropriate calories without making you feel full. Add beans and vegetables to ensure proper nutrition.
    • Stay hydrated: The vomiting caused by morning sickness can dehydrate you, further aggravating symptoms. Take small sips of water throughout the day to stay hydrated — not just when you feel thirsty. Aim for 8–12 cups of water a day during pregnancy.
    • Avoid spicy and rich foods: Spicy or sugary foods can upset your stomach and worsen nausea. It’s a good idea to stay away from them, as well as any food whose smell or taste makes you feel sick. Eat simple foods that can be easily digested. Here is a handy nutrition guide you can use to decide what to eat at each stage of your pregnancy.
    • Pay attention to smells: Pleasant scents like lavender or mint can help manage nausea.
    • Try acupressure: Studies have shown that acupressure on the inner wrist can be used as an alternative method to bring relief from nausea.
    • Get emotional support: Additional anxiety and stress can aggravate discomfort. Getting support from your friends and family can help manage your concerns as well as symptoms like nausea.

    When does morning sickness end?

    For most people, morning sickness usually begins around weeks five or six and eases by about week 12 or 14. For about 10 percent of pregnant people, it can last until week 20. In even fewer cases, morning sickness can persist throughout the pregnancy. 

    Morning sickness affects around 80 percent of pregnant people and is often one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. Characterized by frequent nausea and vomiting, it starts at around week six of pregnancy and usually fades by week 12 or 14. In most cases, it can be treated with natural remedies like taking ginger, eating smaller meals, and staying hydrated. About 1 percent of pregnant people experience an extreme form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum, which may require hospitalization. If you have severe vomiting, dark-colored urine, frequent dizziness, and difficulty keeping down liquids, talk to your doctor and seek appropriate treatment. 

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    History of updates

    Current version (09 January 2023)

    Reviewed by Dr. Iryna Ilyich, Obstetrician and gynecologist, medical advisor, Flo Health Inc., Lithuania

    Published (12 February 2019)

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