Morning sickness is extremely common in pregnant women. While most pregnant women will experience nausea in the beginning stages of pregnancy, about one-third experience vomiting [*].
Despite being common, morning sickness can still ruin your entire day. Fortunately, you can take steps to ease your symptoms. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about morning sickness, including safe and proven home remedies and the signs indicating it’s time to see your doctor.
What Exactly Is Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness is characterized by nausea or the physical act of vomiting during pregnancy [*]. While morning sickness is most common during the first trimester, it can continue throughout the duration of your pregnancy—and it can occur at any time, day or night. Most pregnant women who experience morning sickness are free and clear by the second trimester.
What Causes Nausea During Pregnancy?
The exact cause of morning sickness is still unknown. However, we do know that it’s largely associated with the hormonal changes that occur in a woman’s body during pregnancy. This also gives way to an imbalance in dietary vitamins and minerals, for example, potassium and magnesium [*].
Additionally, low levels of vitamin B6 and low blood sugar are frequent culprits behind morning sickness, as are instances of slow digestion from eating heavier meals [*].
Women tend to experience morning sickness differently, however. For starters, some women will feel more nauseous than others, despite being in the same time frame in their pregnancies. Some women also don’t experience morning sickness at all, while others may experience it well into their third trimester.
Additionally, while you can’t predict whether you’ll experience morning sickness while pregnant, women who have experienced it in a previous pregnancy are more likely to experience it the next time around as well [*].
How Long Does Morning Sickness Usually Last?
As mentioned above, nausea during pregnancy is most commonly felt during the first trimester. This gives most pregnant women a 6- to 14-week range of time when they’ll most likely experience nausea and vomiting.
Statistically speaking, at least 7 in 10 pregnant women will experience morning sickness within the first three months of pregnancy. It generally starts around the six-week mark and worsens around nine weeks. By the second trimester, which is between 14 and 26 weeks, the symptoms of morning sickness will have faded away [*].
While it’s less common to have morning sickness past the first trimester, some women will experience nausea throughout their entire pregnancy. However, this is often due to other issues, including:
- Continuing hormonal changes
- Gastrointestinal (GI) issues
- Emotional stress
- Low blood sugar
- Constipation, gas, reflux, or heartburn
- Certain foods
- Medical issues, such as preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome, etc.
- Illness or infection
When nausea and vomiting persist past the first trimester, it’s best to see a doctor to rule out any serious medical conditions, illnesses, or infections for the health of yourself and your baby.
9 Safe and Effective Home Remedies for Morning Sickness
When morning sickness gets bad, it can ruin your whole day. Even when it’s not so bad, it’s still pretty unpleasant. Being pregnant shouldn’t mean being immobile, which is why it’s important to figure out ways to reduce your morning sickness so you can carry on with your day and take care of yourself and your growing baby.
So, what helps with morning sickness? Fortunately, there are plenty of effective home remedies used by many women to reduce the impacts of morning sickness.
Below are the nine most common home remedies to relieve your morning sickness (keep in mind, you’ll likely have to experiment with each remedy to see what works best for you).
1. Eat Frequent Light Meals
Believe it or not, an empty stomach is more likely to make you feel queasy during pregnancy. Conversely, huge meals that cater to your cravings can have the same effect.
Many women see success by eating five to six smaller nutritious meals throughout the day. This will keep your stomach from feeling empty while keeping your energy levels up, which can make you feel much better as you navigate the early stages of your pregnancy.
2. Find the Right Scents
Pregnant women develop the nose of a bloodhound, which makes them incredibly sensitive to strong aromas and offensive odors. While you want to avoid the smells that make you feel sick, it’s also a good idea to try and find pleasant smells that can put you at ease.
One study found that lemon and peppermint essential oils are among the best home remedies for nausea during pregnancy by reducing its intensity and frequency [*]. If essential oils are still a little too much, you can try gently boiling lemon and orange rinds with mint leaves on the stovetop to see if that helps.
3. Try a Different Prenatal Vitamin
Prenatal vitamins are essential to ensuring you and your baby get all the necessary nutrients. However, sometimes the iron used in prenatal vitamins can worsen the nausea you’re already experiencing.
In this case, speak with your doctor about a prenatal vitamin that contains less elemental iron, such as ferrous gluconate, which is gentler on the stomach. You can also try taking your vitamins at different times of the day or with food to help with digestion.
4. Try Stomach-Settling Foods
Several types of ingredients are well known for settling the stomach:
- Sour treats, including sour candies and lemon water
- Saltine crackers
- Trail mix
You can steep the ginger and mint to make a tea (or you can buy ginger or mint tea from the grocery store). Saltines help replace lost electrolytes due to their salt content, and trail mix makes for the perfect bedside snack when you can’t stomach a full meal, but having an empty stomach worsens your morning sickness.
5. Go for a Walk
Moving around is probably the last thing you’ll want to do when you have morning sickness, but going for a 20-minute walk in the fresh air can do wonders for fighting nausea and even fatigue. Swimming can also soothe the body and make you feel better, so if nice weather and a pool are available, don’t be afraid to take a quick dip.
If you can’t bring yourself to exercise, try sitting outside or next to an open window to get a dose of fresh air.
6. Take Vitamin B6
Taking a vitamin B6 supplement in addition to prenatal vitamins has proven effective in reducing the symptoms of morning sickness in some pregnant women [*]. You’ll want to consult your doctor beforehand to see what they recommend—and be sure to take the supplement on an empty stomach as vitamin B6 is water soluble.
7. Drink Plenty of Fluids
If you’re vomiting more than you are nauseous, you’re likely dehydrated. Being dehydrated can worsen your symptoms as well as put you and your baby at risk. So, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and other fluids throughout the day to stay hydrated.
It’s also a good idea to incorporate natural fruit juices in your diet, such as watermelon juice, which will both hydrate you and fill you up with essential vitamins and minerals as well as electrolytes. Protein shakes are also a good idea, as protein can reduce instances of nausea in pregnant women.
8. Sip on Bubbly Beverages
In addition to ensuring you remain hydrated, it’s a good idea to sip on carbonated beverages after each meal. These beverages typically contain sodium bicarbonate, which neutralizes stomach acid reactions, and those tiny bubbles are said to encourage motility in the GI tract as they pop. This helps to ease nausea that may crop up during digestion.
You’ll want to opt for clear and non-caffeinated drinks like Sprite, 7Up, ginger ale, and good old soda water or sparkling water. You can even add fruit juice or chunks of your favorite fruits to club soda. Fruit can give soda water a more natural flavor with less sugar and additives and contains essential vitamins and minerals for double duty.
9. Try Acupressure or Acupuncture
Acupressure and acupuncture are two different techniques, but they both revolve around applying pressure to specific areas of the body referred to as meridians. Acupuncture is a traditional form of Chinese medicine where an acupuncturist accesses the body’s pressure points with needles. Acupressure, another form of Chinese medicine (which typically complements acupuncture), is much simpler as it involves pressing or massaging the same specific pressure points.
Both methods are said to help with a range of issues, from nausea to muscle pain, as they work to balance energy and encourage blood flow throughout the body. By stimulating pressure points, endorphins are released, which work to relieve discomfort naturally. These methods are also speculated to positively affect the autonomous nervous system and relieve nausea [*] and vomiting in early pregnancy.
Acupressure can be done on your own or with the help of your partner, whereas you’ll need to make an appointment with a professional if you wish to try acupuncture. You can also try sea bands, which are stretchy bracelets that apply pressure to the nerve that runs from your wrist and up your arm. These have been found to significantly reduce nausea and you can usually find them at your local drugstore.
How to Get Rid of Morning Sickness When Home Remedies Aren’t Working
Sometimes, morning sickness can become so severe that no home remedy or combination of home remedies will ease your suffering. When this happens, it’s time to look to medication, which can range from over-the-counter to prescription medications.
These are the most common OTC and prescribed medications for morning sickness:
Before considering medication for your nausea or vomiting, speak with your doctor first. Only they can make the proper recommendation, and they would never recommend an OTC medication or prescribe one that would harm your baby.
When to See a Doctor About Your Morning Sickness
Morning sickness can come on in the morning, afternoon, or evening. However, there’s a difference between a normal amount of morning sickness and an unhealthy amount.
If you’re experiencing the following with your morning sickness, you’ll want to call your doctor right away [*]:
- Nausea that lasts throughout the entire day, making it impossible to eat or drink anything
- Vomiting more than four times per day
- Not being able to keep any food down
- Vomit that is brownish in color
- Vomit that has blood in it
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Inability to tolerate any fluids for more than 12 hours
Since it’s also unusual to experience morning sickness past the first trimester, you’ll want to schedule a visit with your doctor if your symptoms persist beyond 10 weeks to rule out any other possible medical conditions.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to having a baby, morning sickness is unavoidable for most women. However, it doesn’t have to be something that sabotages your pregnancy. Make sure you and your doctor have a plan to mitigate your morning sickness should it become severe, and don’t forget to take good care of yourself in those early stages of pregnancy.