When Does Morning Sickness Start and End?

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
July 10, 2019
pregnant woman forming heart shape with her hands
image via pixabay

Image source: Pixabay.com

Whether you’re thinking about starting a family or you’ve just caught wind that you might be pregnant, one of the first things we all want to know is, when will morning sickness set in? 

Aside from the fact that it’s a little nerve-wracking, everyone wants to start planning and seizing the day before sickness sets in. You may have other little ones at home that you’re caring for, a big move on the horizon, important meetings or deadlines coming up at work, or just plain curiosity.  

It’s normal to feel a little nervous about what’s to come. The best (read: only) thing you can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst. So, let’s give you a run-down of the basics:

People and Pregnancies Are Unique

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Each pregnancy for each person is different. What you experience from one pregnancy to the next could be two different ballgames. And, what you experience as opposed to friends and family, could be two different sports entirely!

Anything Goes

We’re going to throw the word “typically” around loosely here. Typically, most women experience morning sickness in weeks 6 through 14. It’s not common to feel nauseous before week 6, and most women won’t get it if it hasn’t begun by week 14. That being said, anything goes, and your body could react atypically. That’s just how pregnancies go!

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It’s believed that about 50 percent of women who are pregnant, will experience morning sickness at some point, though that figure stretches as high as 80 percent among doctors and research studies.

Why Is It Called Morning Sickness?

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It’s called morning sickness because many women experience it in the morning, as they’re getting up for the day or having the first meal. It’s a little sneaky to call it that though because as many pregnant ladies will tell you, it can happen any time of the day, for a short while or lasting the entire day. 

On Average, this is What You Can Expect

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  • 50 to 80 percent chance of morning sickness
  • Could start around weeks 6 to 14
  • Could begin before week 6 and last long after week 14
  • Doesn’t necessarily happen just in the morning

It may seem like we’re giving you the run around here, but we promise, we’re not. There’s just too much uniqueness and individuality to pregnancy to lock down concrete answers. You may be one of the lucky ones that morning sickness never strikes for. 

You may be one of the unlucky ones who experience nausea and vomiting throughout the pregnancy. Or you may fall somewhere in between, which is the most likely. There’s no locking it down, and the good thing is that morning sickness has no bearing on the health of your pregnancy. 

Just because you are or aren’t sick, doesn’t indicate anything good or bad with the pregnancy, despite some old wives’ tales. If you’re experiencing severe morning sickness with accompanying weight loss, you should seek medical attention. Not because the illness is an issue, but because the weight loss could cause harm to the developing fetus. 

What Is Morning Sickness?

We all know that morning sickness can cause nausea, vomiting, and fatigue, but what is it exactly and why does it cause these symptoms? Also known as nausea gravidarum, emesis gravidarum, or pregnancy sickness, the exact causes are actually still a mystery. 

For reasons still mostly unknown by the medical community, a woman’s body may be reacting with any number of things related to pregnancy in a way that makes us feel queasy and unwell. Blame it on our bodies overworking to create life, the surge in hormones, or what have you, but we all know it when we feel it!

Is Anything Specific the Root Cause?

Some things that are believed to be at play are our hormone levels of course. During pregnancy, our levels of estrogen may be up to 100 times higher. Technically, there’s no evidence to suggest that an influx in estrogen would cause nausea though. 

Progesterone levels also rise in pregnancy. The hormone helps keep your uterus relaxed; no contractions mean no early birth for the baby. However, all that progesterone could very well be resting some of your other organs like your intestines and stomach, resulting in acid reflux, excess stomach acid, and accompanying nausea.

It’s no secret that pregnant women sometimes gain a sensitivity to smell, which can trigger nausea. Still, for others, it may be the rise in human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) which some experts believe could be linked to the sickness during pregnancy that many women experience.

There’s no evidence to suggest it, but some believe that while a mother’s body is making her placenta, the energy it takes to complete such a task can cause low blood sugar, resulting in nausea. 

Who Experiences It?

We touched on this earlier, and the fact remains that it’s still a bit of a mystery. You may experience morning sickness with all, one, or none of your pregnancies. You may experience it with every pregnancy while another woman experiences it with none of hers. It just happens, when it happens, to who it happens to. 

How Long Does It Typically Last?

In the grand scheme of things, morning nausea may only last a handful to several weeks. Usually, sometime between weeks 6 to 14, it begins, with most of the sickness clearing towards the end of the first trimester. Many women don’t experience morning illness beyond 16 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. 

We know, constant nausea, fatigue, and sensitivity to smells and foods can feel like it’s lasting a lifetime. But you’ll get through it before you know it!

Solutions/remedies for Morning Sickness

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There is no shortage of morning sickness remedies, some may work and some may not. Feel free to give it your all and hope for the best here!

  • Rest: Yes, just plain old rest. Allow yourself time to get enough rest each day.
  • Time: If you have to be up early in the morning, set your alarm a little earlier than usual. It may help to have a few long moments of being awake and alert before popping out bed. 
  • Keep Crackers Close By: Keeping a few crackers next to bed may make all the difference. Putting a little something in your tummy before moving and getting up may reduce your symptoms. 
  • Fluids: Remember to keep those fluids going throughout the day. Try having water/fluids ½ before and after main dishes but not during, to keep something in your stomach at all times. 
  • Tips: Avoid triggers, smells, foods, and situations that you know are going to make you feel ill. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable, but you’ve got to give it your best shot!
  • Ginger: There is some evidence to suggest that ginger can help alleviate the feeling of nausea, so pick up some ginger tea, soda, or even a ginger jam to try on toast with breakfast. 

Things to Avoid

There are several things you may want to avoid during this stage of pregnancy; here are a few to remember:

  •  Don’t take a nap just after you eat. There is some evidence suggesting this could contribute to nausea. 
  • Avoid greasy, spicy, or overly odorous foods. These could trigger your symptoms,
  • Don’t have fluids with your meal, but within enough time before and after a meal to prevent being over-full. 

Here Are Some Nausea Fighting Pregnancy Snack to Try

  • Ginger:  Enjoy it in any form! Whether it’s ginger ale, ginger tea, a small sliver of fresh ginger to chew on, ginger snaps, crystallized ginger, and it’s even available in capsule form. 
  • Lemon: If you can stand to have a slice of lemon, give it a try. Otherwise, squeeze some in your water, ginger ale, sprite, or carbonated water for a little relief. 
  • Crackers, Pretzels, & Toas: Can you bland? Ha! Although they’re a little boring, sometimes bland foods will be your best friend and your best chance at surviving the morning sickness phase. 
  • Cold Items: For some reason, many pregnant women find that cold foods are more tolerable than warm foods. Try Jell-O, yogurt, chilled fruits, frozen popsicles, frozen yogurt/ice cream, clear fluids with ice. 
  • Applesauce: Part of the famous BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast), applesauce can be helpful during bouts of nausea. It’s gentle on the stomach while providing a good source of carbs to keep you going. 
  • Bananas: This simple snack tends to be easy to digest when unwell, it’s a nutritionally dense but light snack that may help stave off morning sickness if your belly is empty and you aren’t tolerating much. 

Things to Remember

Even though it can feel horrendous and like there is no end in sight, there is an end, and you’ll be there before you know it. Nothing lasts forever, not even morning sickness. If nausea and fatigue have you down in the dumps, try to rest, relax, and think about the bigger picture until you’re feeling better again.

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