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Morning Sickness Survival Guide
Updated on
April 19, 2024

Morning Sickness Survival Guide

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Morning Sickness Survival Guide.
Morning Sickness Survival Guide

Oh, morning sickness. Exciting in theory, since it’s often the first sign of your growing baby, but not so fun to live through. It’s like you have a hangover (without the fun night before) or churning seasickness (even though you’re nowhere near water). And the real kicker? The term “morning sickness” is actually a misnomer—it can actually strike any time of day or night.

So why does morning sickness happen? And what can you do about it? We’re breaking down everything you need to know.

What Is Morning Sickness?

According to March of Dimes, “morning sickness is nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) and vomiting that happens in the first few months of pregnancy.” This nausea can start as an early sign of implantation, but typically starts around five- to six weeks of pregnancy, then peaks around nine weeks. Morning sickness usually fades as you approach the second trimester of pregnancy, when it’s replaced by a burst of energy and you start feeling like yourself again. While it’s not super common, it’s possible to experience morning sickness past the second trimester.

If your symptoms are severe (vomiting multiple times a day for several days in a row), you’re likely experiencing what’s called hyperemisis gravidarum (aka HG). Often debilitating, HG is severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy that can lead to dizziness, dehydration and weight loss. Fortunately, there are treatments available to help you get through it, so you’ll definitely want to talk with your doctor.

What Causes Morning Sickness?

It’s actually a bit of a mystery. “[Morning sickness] can be triggered by a number of things that are unique to each person,” says Dr. Jennifer Lang, a Los Angeles–based ob-gyn and author of The Whole 9 Months: A Week-by-Week Pregnancy Nutrition Guide with Recipes for a Healthy Start. She suggests that it’s most likely a combination of a few different things, the biggest culprit likely being dramatic hormone shifts.

Some of the things that can trigger morning sickness include:

Hormones. Hormone levels are rapidly shifting to support your growing baby, especially during the early weeks. For example, higher levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (aka HCG, the hormone responsible for your positive pregnancy test) are associated with an increased chance of nausea and vomiting. Estrogen is another crucial pregnancy hormone and higher levels are known to cause an upset stomach.

Food and odors. Coupled with the rollercoaster of hormones, strong tastes and scents can also trigger queasiness. And if you’re someone who’s normally sensitive to tastes and smells, you may be even more likely to experience morning sickness.

Mind and body. “If you’re prone to nausea and vomiting with migraines, menstrual cycles or traveling by boat or car, you’ll be more likely to experience morning sickness,” Dr. Lang says. The same is true with higher thyroid levels. And if your mother or sister experienced symptoms, chances are you will too.

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Should I Worry About Morning Sickness?

While it can be annoying, there’s generally no need to worry about morning sickness. There’s no connection between feeling awful and risk to your developing baby. “That morning sickness queasiness could even be protective,” says Dr. Lang, “evolutionarily, it may be a protective way to avoid harmful toxins.” However, sometimes morning sickness can take a toll on your mental health. As always, don’t hesitate to talk to your healthcare provider if you’re concerned about any of these feelings and symptoms.

Tips to Ease Morning Sickness

“Just remember that it very likely shall pass,” says Dr. Lang. The only real way out of morning sickness is to get through it, but you can take steps in the meantime to alleviate your symptoms.

Here are some ways to help ease morning sickness:

Prioritize rest and sleep. While it’s often easier said than done, “getting good sleep, as much as you can, is an excellent place to start,” Dr. Lang says.

Eat smaller meals and stay hydrated. Big meals take longer to move through your system while you’re pregnant, which may trigger nausea. “If you can, eat smaller, regular snacks throughout the day as opposed to larger meals,” Dr. Lang says. Also, try to eat something first thing in the morning. Plain foods (like crackers) plus foods high in protein and fat (such as almonds or cheese) can help keep nausea at bay longer. Certain foods and scents—including citrus and ginger—can also be soothing. And be sure to sip water throughout the day.

Move your body. Keep up your workouts if you can—it’s shown to offer some relief. You can also try walking after meals, prenatal yoga, meditation, acupuncture and acupressure.

Take a prenatal vitamin. Dr. Lang suggests that prenatal vitamins (which you should already be taking) can help, specifically the Vitamin B6 they contain. If prenatals make you queasy, consider taking easy to swallow prenatal vitamins at night with a small snack rather than in the morning on an empty stomach. For some people, a magnesium or calcium supplement may help with morning sickness but don’t take any supplements without first talking with your healthcare provider.

While it’s easy to wish that there was a magic cure for morning sickness, remember that it won’t last forever. In most cases, the queasiness is a long-distant memory by the time your baby is a few weeks old.


Jennifer Lang, M.D., OBGYN and author of The Whole 9 Months: A Week-by-Week Pregnancy Nutrition Guide with Recipes for a Healthy Start.

March of Dimes: What is Morning Sickness

Briana Engelbrecht

Assistant Editor

Briana Engelbrecht is Babylist’s Assistant Editor, where she brings her passion for early childhood development and the perinatal period, plus experience as a mom of two to Babylist articles and guides. A former preschool teacher, she loves children’s picture books, cats, plants and making things.

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