Morning sickness during pregnancy, when it starts and ends

Many moms-to-be start to experience nausea and vomiting - aka morning sickness - in the first month or two of pregnancy. Read on to find out when morning sickness typically starts and when it may end, and why you shouldn’t worry if you don’t experience morning sickness at all.

When Does Morning Sickness Start in Pregnancy?

Morning sickness usually starts sometime between 4 weeks and 9 weeks of pregnancy, and may be at its worst over the following month. Keep in mind that the time when morning sickness starts may be different for each mom-to-be and can even differ between pregnancies. And some pregnant women never experience morning sickness at all. If you’re not sure how far along you are in your pregnancy, you can find out using our Due Date Calculator or by turning to your healthcare provider.

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What Causes Morning Sickness?

Experts aren’t quite sure what causes the nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness, but there may be a link with the elevated levels of the pregnancy hormones hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and estrogen during early pregnancy. These hormonal changes may heighten your senses, too. In other words, you may become more sensitive to certain smells, and your sense of taste may also change; for example, everything may taste sour, bitter, or simply off. Read more about pregnancy aversions.

What Does Morning Sickness Feel Like?

Many would describe morning sickness as a queasy feeling that may come with or without nausea and vomiting. You would think that with a name like “morning sickness,” it would mean that you only get the symptoms of queasiness and nausea in the morning. Unfortunately, that’s not the case — morning sickness can strike at any time of day. It can also come and go throughout the day or last all day. Most women will get sick for a short time each day, possibly even vomiting once or twice. But it’s different for every mom-to-be, and what you may experience during early pregnancy is unique to you. There is also a severe form of morning sickness known as hyperemesis gravidarum. Only 2 percent of women with morning sickness experience this severe condition. Though no one knows what causes the condition, it's possible that women who are carrying more than one baby may be more likely to have severe nausea and vomiting than those carrying just one baby. For this type of morning sickness, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to treat the nausea and vomiting.

When Does Morning Sickness End?

According to experts, between 70 and 85 percent of pregnant women experience morning sickness in their first trimester, and most women find that their symptoms usually go away in the second trimester, sometime around 16 weeks.

How Long Does Morning Sickness Last?

Every pregnancy is unique, but for some moms-to-be morning sickness can last for up to several months. Around 5 percent of pregnant women may experience morning sickness symptoms throughout their entire pregnancy.

Is It Normal Not to Get Morning Sickness?

Around 15 to 30 percent of women do not experience morning sickness at all, and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong. Every pregnancy and every mom-to-be is different. However, if you’re concerned about how your pregnancy is progressing, speak to your healthcare provider.

What Foods Are Good for Morning Sickness?

Snacking throughout the day (opting for salty snacks like crackers), and sipping ginger tea or ginger ale, or sucking on ginger candy or a ginger lollipop may help relieve nausea. If you’re really having a hard time with morning sickness, your healthcare provider may recommend switching to bland foods, such as the BRATT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, and tea), as these are easy to digest. It’s best to avoid greasy, spicy, and fatty foods during this time as these could make your symptoms worse. Some researchers have found that foods high in protein may relieve nausea better than foods high in carbohydrates. Test whether adding protein to every meal helps.

Is Morning Sickness a Good Sign?

Many women consider morning sickness to be a good sign, despite the unpleasant queasiness and vomiting. It can be a reminder that they are actually pregnant and that their pregnancy is on track. And there is some research that supports this point of view.

Be sure to reach out to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about morning sickness or about any aspect of your pregnancy.

Can Morning Sickness Hurt Your Baby?

Mild or moderate morning sickness usually isn’t harmful for you or your baby. However, if you start having trouble keeping food and liquid down, it can lead to dehydration and/or weight loss. This can keep you from getting the nutrition you need during your pregnancy to nourish both you and your baby, and it may affect the birth weight of your baby. Contact your healthcare provider if you’re having trouble keeping food and water down.

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

Call your healthcare provider if:

  • You’re unable to urinate, or urinate a very small amount, or urinate fewer than three times per day

  • Your urine is dark in color or has a strong odor

  • You can’t keep any foods or liquids down for 24 hours or more

  • You’ve stopped gaining weight or have lost five pounds or more within one to two weeks

  • Your skin, mouth, and lips are very dry

  • You get dizzy when you stand up

  • You get tired and confused easily

  • Your heart is racing or pounding.

The Bottom Line

Morning sickness can start early in your pregnancy, often between 4 and 9 weeks, and typically doesn’t last past your first trimester. However, your particular experience may be different, as each woman's pregnancy is unique. Morning sickness is a very common pregnancy symptom, and it can happen any time of the day, not just in the morning. The good news is that eating things like salty crackers and drinking ginger tea throughout the day could help. If you notice that you’re dehydrated or losing weight, of if your symptoms are particularly severe, it’s best to call your healthcare provider so that you can get treatment. Luckily, most moms-to-be find that morning sickness goes away in the second trimester. In the meantime, if you’re having a hard time with morning sickness, try to see it as a good reminder that you’re creating a new life, and speak to your healthcare provider for personalized guidance and advice.