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Morning Sickness

For many women, the toughest part of early pregnancy is morning sickness. Morning sickness can range from mild, occasional nausea to severe, ongoing, disabling nausea with bouts of vomiting. Symptoms may be worse in the morning, but they can strike at any time of the day or night.

The first signs of morning sickness usually develop during the month following the first missed menstrual period, when pregnancy hormone levels rise. Women carrying twins or more have greater hormone increases, which tends to cause more severe morning sickness.

There is no way to predict how long your morning sickness will last, even if you have suffered through it before. Nausea and vomiting usually go away by 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy. But in some cases, it can last well into a pregnancy.

If you have severe, persistent nausea and vomiting or are unable to take in fluids, see your doctor or nurse-midwife right away. This pregnancy problem can lead to dehydration and malnutrition. For this, you need intravenous (IV) fluids and/or prescribed medicine. In some cases, you may need to stay in the hospital.

Lifestyle guidelines for curbing morning sickness

  • Keep food in your stomach but not too much. An empty stomach can make nausea worse. Eat several small meals every day instead of three large meals.
  • For morning nausea, eat a small snack (like crackers) before rising. Allow a few minutes for the snack to digest, then get out of bed slowly.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink a lot of fluids. Try a sports hydration drink as well as water, broth, or juice.
  • Eat more protein, and cut your fatty food intake.
  • Avoid smells and foods that make you feel nauseated. Citrus juice, milk, coffee, and caffeinated tea commonly make nausea worse.
  • Get lots of rest. Stress and fatigue can make morning sickness worse.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised July 23, 2012

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