Morning sickness is one of the most common first signs of pregnancy – and one of the least appealing. Vomit is obviously gross. But, it can also be what twigs you to the fact that you’re pregnant, which is very exciting!
If you think you may be experiencing morning sickness, here’s what you need to know about it – including when it starts.
It can start as early as 8 days after ovulation
Wow! There you go. Morning sickness can be a very early pregnancy symptom, appearing well before you even suspect you’re pregnant.
While many sources suggest that it starts at around 4-6 weeks’ gestation, recent research indicates that most women experience the first symptoms of pregnancy sickness after 8 to 10 days from the date of their ovulation. This is well before you’d think to take a pregnancy test, and you may still be expecting your period any day.
Morning sickness can range from slight nausea to full-blown hurling over the toilet bowl. (Or in my case, mistaking nausea for hunger and eating my weight in carbs every day.)
It usually occurs in the first trimester
As many as two-thirds of women experience morning sickness during pregnancy, and most report it in the first trimester only. Usually, it goes away by the second trimester, but for an unlucky few (about 10%) it does continue throughout the entire pregnancy.
Doctors are still scratching their heads as to why it’s a thing. But we can at least all agree that it’s not a mental condition as was once believed to be! There’s no research to support that morning sickness is psychosomatic (meaning that fears and anxieties trigger the psychical symptoms), so we can write that theory off thanks.
Possible causes of nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy may include an increase in hormones or low blood sugar. Research also suggests that it may be worse when experiencing fatigue, emotional stress, frequent travelling, or when carrying twins or triplets (to be honest, the thought of managing multiple toddlers of the same age makes us feel a little ill too).
So who knows WHY it happens, but thank goodness it usually levels out by the second trimester! (For most women, that is. About one in 1,000 will experience hyperemesis gravidarum which is basically morning sickness times A BILLION, and can last for the entire pregnancy for some.)
It can usually* be managed or minimised
As sucky as morning sickness is, there are a few things you can try to make life easier/better/not as vomit-filled.
You can try:
- Eating smaller, more frequent meals (a very full or empty stomach can make it worse)
- Eating lots of protein and carbs
- Drinking peppermint tea or diffusing peppermint essential oil
- Eating crackers before you get out of bed in the morning
- Getting extra rest when possible.
Your doctor may be able to prescribe some vitamin supplements to help with nausea too.
*Definitely give these remedies a shot, but I’m sorry to report that they don’t come with a guarantee!
It’s not always in the morning
Feeling unwell later in the day? Sickness doesn’t need to be in the morning to be classed as morning sickness. (We call false advertising!) In fact some researchers have suggested relabelling it ‘pregnancy sickness’. Although, most women do experience the worst of the sickness earlier in the day so I guess we can let it slide for now.
Morning sickness doesn’t need to be violent illness like you see in the movies. For you it could just be nausea or an aversion to certain foods.
It can be a good sign
A 2016 study suggested that morning sickness actually plays an important role in protecting mothers and babies from deadly toxins and disease-causing organisms in foods and drinks! I.E. – the sight of that certain food makes your stomach churn so you don’t wanna eat it, because it could be bad for your and your baby’s health. How handy!
And, Cornell University evolutionary biologist Paul W. Sherman said in a research paper from 2000:
“As unpleasant as it is, the nausea and vomiting of ‘morning sickness’ experienced by two-thirds of pregnant women is Mother Nature’s way of protecting mothers and fetuses from food-borne illness and also shielding the fetus from chemicals that can deform fetal organs at the most critical time in development.”
He also highlighted the misleading nature of the name ‘morning sickness’ and suggests it should instead be called ‘wellness insurance’. (Ha! We see what you did there, sir.)
So morning sickness may even be reason to celebrate! (I know, that statement is a bit hard to stomach itself.)
If you don’t experience morning sickness in your pregnancy, it doesn’t mean anything sinister. You might just be exceptionally lucky! But if you are concerned about your pregnancy at all, book a visit to your doctor.