Morning sickness, also called nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, is a common condition. It occurs in about 70% of pregnancies and usually starts around 6 weeks of pregnancy and lasts for weeks or months. Symptoms usually improve during the second trimester (weeks 13 to 27; the middle 3 months of pregnancy). In a few women, however, morning sickness occurs throughout their pregnancy.
Despite its name, “morning” sickness can happen at any time of the day.
Yes. Most women who experience morning sickness usually feel nauseous for a short time each day and may vomit once or twice. In more severe cases of morning sickness, nausea can last several hours each day and vomiting occurs more frequently. This most severe type of nausea and vomiting, which occurs in up to 3% of pregnant women, is called hyperemesis gravidarum.
The cause of morning sickness is not totally known. It may be caused by low blood sugar or the rise in pregnancy hormones, such as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) or estrogen. Morning sickness may be worsened by stress, being overtired, eating certain foods, or having sensitivity to motion (motion sickness).
Symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum include:
Women with severe morning sickness may need to be admitted to the hospital to receive IV fluids to restore hydration and medications to relieve nausea.
There are a few things you can do to feel better. These include:
Other methods may help reduce nausea. Talk with your healthcare provider before trying these:
Do not use marijuana to treat morning sickness! It has not been shown to be safe for your baby during pregnancy.
Your healthcare provider may recommend taking vitamin B6 (also called pyridoxine) and doxylamine. Doxylamine is also used as a sleep aid and to treat hay fever or other allergies. Both products are available over-the-counter and don’t need a prescription. However, there is a pill that contains the combination of these 2 products. It is available by prescription only and is known by the trade name Diclegis®. Unlike the separate over-the-counter products, Diclegis® is a slow-release single pill. This may be more convenient or helpful for women who have trouble (for example, have a gag reflex) taking many pills per day.
Medications to prevent nausea (also called antiemetics) can also be prescribed. If these drugs don’t help, other drug classes can be tried including antihistamines and anticholinergics. You and your healthcare provider will decide which medications work best for you.
Mild to moderate nausea and vomiting of pregnancy usually is not harmful to you or your baby. However, it can become a problem if you can’t keep food or liquid down, become dehydrated, and lose weight. Unmanaged severe nausea and vomiting can prevent you from getting the nutrition you need and affect the weight of your baby at birth.
Yes. The risk for severe morning sickness is increased if a woman:
Do not wait until vomiting becomes severe to call your doctor. Seeking care for morning sickness early in pregnancy can help prevent it from becoming more severe. Severe vomiting is not a normal aspect of pregnancy and requires medical care or even hospitalization.
Another reason to investigate severe nausea and vomiting is that it may be a symptom of other medical conditions including ulcers, reflux (heartburn), food-related illnesses, thyroid disease, gallbladder disease, or inflammation of the appendix, stomach, pancreas, or liver.
Call your doctor right away if you:
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 06/29/2017