What is it?
Morning sickness is nausea that occurs during pregnancy. Morning sickness is a misnomer, however, since it can strike at any time of the day or night.
Morning sickness affects an estimated 50 to 90 percent of pregnant women. Morning sickness is most common during the first trimester, but for some women morning sickness lingers throughout pregnancy. Treatment isn't usually needed for morning sickness — although various home remedies, such as snacking throughout the day and sipping ginger ale, often help relieve nausea.
Rarely, morning sickness is so severe that it's classified as hyperemesis gravidarum. This type of morning sickness may require hospitalization and treatment with intravenous (IV) fluids and medications.
Morning sickness is characterized by nausea with or without vomiting. Morning sickness is most common during the first trimester, sometimes beginning as early as two weeks after conception.
What causes morning sickness isn't entirely clear, but the hormonal changes of pregnancy are thought to play a role. Rarely, severe or persistent nausea or vomiting may be caused by a medical condition unrelated to pregnancy — such as thyroid or liver disease.
Morning sickness can affect anyone who's pregnant. You might be more likely to experience morning sickness if:
- You experienced nausea or vomiting from motion sickness, migraines, certain smells or tastes, or exposure to oestrogen (in birth control pills, for example) before pregnancy
- You experienced morning sickness during a previous pregnancy
- You're pregnant with twins or other multiples
Typical cases of morning sickness don't pose risks for mother or baby. However, if you're underweight before pregnancy and morning sickness prevents you from gaining a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy, your baby may be born underweight. Rarely, frequent vomiting may lead to tears in the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach (oesophagus).
Morning sickness is typically diagnosed based on your signs and symptoms. If your health care provider suspects hyperemesis gravidarum, you may need various urine and blood tests. Your health care provider may also do an ultrasound to confirm the number of fetuses and detect any underlying conditions that may be contributing to the nausea.