Morning sickness, what it is and what to do to treat it. When it becomes a problem

Morning sickness

Morning sickness is a common symptom of pregnancy and is characterized by nausea and occasional vomiting. Despite the name, morning sickness can cause discomfort at any time of the day. Morning sickness usually occurs within the first four months of pregnancy and is often the first sign that a woman is pregnant.

What is morning sickness?

The so-called morning sickness consists of nausea and vomiting that occur during pregnancy. Despite its name, morning sickness can occur at any time of day.

More than half of pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy. Some women don’t even experience it. If it does occur, it is usually mild and disappears mid-pregnancy.

Suffering from this annoying disorder has nothing to do with your health or that of the fetus. Morning sickness is probably caused by the sudden increase in hormones in your body.

When severe nausea and vomiting lead to dehydration or cause the woman to lose more than 5% of the body weight of pregnancy, it is called hyperemesis gravidarum. About 1% to 5% women with hyperemesis gravidarum should be hospitalized.

Symptoms of morning sickness

The general symptoms of morning sickness are as follows:

  • during the first trimester, a nausea (with or without vomiting) that is comparable to that experienced with motion sickness (motion sickness);
  • nausea that occurs in the morning but can resurface at any time or last all day;
  • nausea caused by the smell of certain foods and other odors;
  • nausea after eating;
  • nausea or vomiting caused by heat and intense salivation;

Possible complications of morning sickness

Nausea and vomiting can easily cause a loss of appetite. Many pregnant women fear that this will harm their babies. A mild morning sickness is generally not harmful.

Women who experience morning sickness well past the first 3-4 months of pregnancy should talk to their doctor. Ask for help even if you’re not gaining weight during pregnancy.

Morning sickness is usually not severe enough to hinder the growth and development of the fetus. For some pregnant women, nausea causes severe vomiting and weight loss. This condition is called hyperemesis gravidarum. It causes electrolyte imbalances and unintentional weight loss. If left untreated, this condition could possibly harm your baby.

You should consult your doctor if:

  • Nausea presents flu-like symptoms. In that case it could be an influence;
  • nausea and vomiting are accompanied by dizziness or lethargy;
  • vomiting occurs several times a day;
  • the disorder is causing weight loss;
  • cannot retain fluids or food and is losing weight;
  • nausea occurs in conjunction with taking some supplement (iron or prenatal vitamins prescribed by your doctor)
  • you want to try to solve the symptoms with some anti-nausea medication

Causes of morning sickness and risk factors

Morning sickness is thought to be caused by increased hormone levels

  • excessive tiredness
  • emotional stress
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  • have already experienced morning sickness during a previous pregnancy;
  • have already experienced motion sickness, migraines, sensitivity to certain smells or tastes or taking birth control pills before this pregnancy;
  • be pregnant with twins or more. In that case the levels of the pregnancy will be higher than in a woman who has a single pregnancy.

Treatment of morning sickness

For moderate to severe morning sickness, your doctor may recommend:

  • vitamin B6 supplements
  • natural remedies such as ginger
  • over-the-counter medications such as doxylamine (Nuperal )
  • antihistamines, to help with nausea and motion sickness
  • phenothiazines, to help calm severe nausea and vomiting
  • metoclopramide, to help the stomach move food into the intestines and help with nausea and vomiting
  • antacids : to absorb stomach acid and help prevent acid reflux
  • the intake of a greater amount of fluids, if you want to prevent dehydration

Do not take these medications and supplements without first talking to your doctor.

Some home remedies for morning sickness include:

  • eat five or six small meals instead of three larger ones;
  • Avoid odors that disturb the stomach.
  • Eat salty crackers, toast before getting out of bed to calm your stomach.
  • avoid spicy, fatty or fried foods
  • Go outside and go for a walk, or just throw open a window.
  • Try anti-nausea bracelets
  • According to some studies, ginger is an excellent ally in counteracting frequent nausea. However, it is good to keep in mind that the effects can be very different depending on the amount taken and that, in any case, there does not seem to be an absolute consensus on the effectiveness and absence of side effects.


Based on your symptoms, your doctor may order certain tests to make sure you and your baby are safe. These include:

Urine tests

Urine tests can determine if you’re dehydrated.

Blood chemistry tests

Your doctor may order blood chemistry tests that include:

  • complete blood count
  • Complete metabolic panel
  • Complete metabolic panel, to measure electrolytes in the blood.

These tests determine whether you are:

  • dry
  • malnourished or deficient in certain vitamins
  • anemic


Ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of your baby. Your doctor then uses these images and sounds to check that your baby is developing at a healthy pace.

Risks to the child

While morning sickness can be uncomfortable and distressing, there’s no research to suggest it causes any harm to your baby. Nausea can, however, affect your food choices. Both you and your baby need a continuous source of a variety of nutrients in the foods you eat. Talk to a health professional if you think your morning sickness is getting in the way of healthy eating.

It’s also important to prevent dehydration, so if you’re vomiting and can’t hold fluids, see your doctor immediately.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform,

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