While waves of nausea and vomiting do not usher in all pregnancies, research shows that anywhere from 70% to 90% of pregnant individuals experience these common tummy-turning early pregnancy symptoms. But before you start to stress—or recruit a designated hair-holder for pukey mornings—take a few minutes to learn all you can about morning sickness—including when morning sickness starts, what it feels like, and—importantly!—how to get some relief.

What is morning sickness?

Nausea and vomiting that occurs in the first few months of pregnancy is called morning sickness…and for good reason. A 2020 report shows that 82% of pregnancy-related nausea strikes between 9 and 10am. Of course, as most morning-sickness sufferers have probably experienced, you are actually very likely to experience morning sickness throughout the day, researchers went on to note. Some may feel nauseated for a brief window each day and vomit once or twice, but in more severe cases, morning sickness can last several hours at a time.

When does morning sickness start?

Morning sickness generally kicks in between your 5th and 10th week of pregnancy. A 2020 report found that your probability of experiencing nausea is at its highest during weeks 5, 6 and 7 of pregnancy, with week 7 also being prime time for vomiting. But morning sickness is said to feel the worst between weeks 8 and 10 weeks of pregnancy.

When does morning sickness end?

While some experience morning sickness throughout their second trimester, for most, morning sickness fades by the time you are 14 weeks pregnant, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). In rare cases, however, morning sickness can last throughout pregnancy.

What does morning sickness feel like?

Everyone knows that nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of morning sickness, but they are not the only ones.

Morning Sickness Symptoms

  • Upset stomach (nausea)

  • Vomiting

  • Loss of appetite

  • Feeling seasick

  • Heartburn-like sensation

  • Feeling as though something is stuck in your throat

  • Hunger pangs

What causes morning sickness?

Doctors do not know for sure what causes morning sickness, but new research suggests that it may have something to do with a pregnant person’s sensitivity to a specific hormone (GDF15) that the placenta produces. Nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy may also be caused—or worsened—by…

  • Increase in pregnancy hormones

  • Low blood sugar

  • Blood pressure fluctuations

  • Metabolism fluctuations

  • Stress

  • Lack of sleep

  • Motion sickness

  • Heat or warm weather

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: Severe Morning Sickness

Most of the time, morning sickness symptoms are mild and manageable, but for up to 3% of pregnant people, the nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy becomes excessive. This severe type of morning sickness is called hyperemesis gravidarum and it can lead to dehydration and weight loss. What's more, a report in BMJ Open found that those with hyperemesis gravidarum are about eight times more likely to suffer prenatal depression and four times more likely to have postnatal depression than those who are not dealing with extreme morning sickness.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Symptoms

You may be diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum if…

  • You have lost 5% of your pre-pregnancy weight.

  • There are high levels of ketones in your urine (Ketosis).

  • You have electrolyte abnormalities, which means the salts in your blood that control the balance of fluids in the body are off.

  • Your vomiting cannot be controlled (more than three to four times a day).

  • You are experiencing symptoms of dehydration, such as dizziness, a decrease in urination, and/or a racing or pounding heart.

Who gets morning sickness?

Morning sickness can occur in any pregnancy, but there are certain factors that may increase your chances of severe morning sickness, such as…

  • Carrying multiples

  • Carrying a female

  • First pregnancy

  • History of motion sickness

  • History of migraines

  • Prior pregnancy with mild or severe nausea and vomiting

  • Having a parent or sibling who experienced severe morning sickness

  • Having a BMI greater than 25 or less than 30

  • Having trophoblastic disease, a condition that leads to abnormal cell growth in the uterus

  • Living in a hot climate

  • Working night shifts

  • Sleep deprivation

Can morning sickness harm the baby?

Cue the sigh of relief: Morning sickness usually does not harm babies-to-be, according to ACOG. That said, if you are unable to keep food or liquid down and become dehydrated and lose weight as a result, it is important to see your healthcare provider. That is because when you leave severe nausea and vomiting unmanaged, you risk having a low-birth-weight baby.

Morning Sickness Treatment

From the foods you eat (and avoid) to lifestyle tweaks and medications, there are several strategies you can take to help treat morning sickness symptoms.

Natural Morning Sickness Remedies

  • Avoid nausea triggers. Odors, flickering lights, riding in the backseat…whatever sparks your nausea, avoid it!

  • Consider aromatherapy. Smelling fresh lemon, orange, and mint has shown to tamp down nausea. In fact, one study of 100 pregnant people found those who inhaled lemon essential oil had significantly less intense nausea and vomiting than those who whiffed a placebo.

  • Rest up! Learn how to sleep better during pregnancy.

  • Keep the air flowing. Make sure you are always in well-ventilated rooms. If you cannot crack a window, turn on a fan or go outside to get some fresh air.

  • Do not lie down after eating. It will cause the gastric juices in your tummy to rise and make you feel ill.

  • Try a motion-sickness band. These zero in on your P6 pressure point on the inside of your wrist that is thought to tamp down nausea.

Foods to Eat for Morning Sickness

  • Bland foods. Bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, and tea are all low in tummy-turning fat and easy to digest.

  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration can make nausea worse. Aim for 8 to 12 glasses of water a day during pregnancy.

  • Include protein at every meal. It will help stave off nausea—and increase your energy, according to research. Bonus: Adding a healthy, lean protein to each meal can keep you fuller longer and help prevent blood sugar levels from spiking.

  • Stash a snack on your nightstand. Eat dry toast or crackers before you get out of bed in the morning, to avoid jostling your empty tummy.

  • Suck on this! Since sour flavors seem to help curb nausea, try sucking on a piece of lemon-flavored hard candy.

  • Enjoy mini meals. An empty belly can cause nausea, so eating five or six small meals throughout that day keeps your tummy topped-up.

  • Avoid fatty and dried foods. These are harder to digest!

  • Embrace ginger. Ginger is a known remedy for reducing nausea and vomiting symptoms in pregnancy. Have a ginger tea made from fresh-grated ginger. Chew on ginger candies. Seek out ginger ale made with real ginger.

Learn more about what to eat to help quell morning sickness.

Morning Sickness Medications and Supplements

If diet and lifestyle changes are not quelling the queasies, your healthcare provider may recommend medication or supplements as a morning sickness treatment. (Always connect with your provider before taking any OTC meds during pregnancy.) Some options include:

  • Prenatal vitamins: Taking prenatals before and during pregnancy has been shown to reduce the risk of having severe nausea and vomiting while expecting. Take your prenatal vitamins with food and at bedtime to sidestep pill-swallowing stomach upset.

  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)This safe, over-the-counter treatment is a good place to start when it comes to treating nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.

  • Doxylamine: This OTC sleep-aid ingredient can be added to your B6 regimen if needed. Research has shown that this combo is associated with a 70% reduction in morning sickness symptomsThere’s also a prescription medication (Xonvea) that contains vitamin B6 and doxylamine.

  • Antiemetic drugs. There are prescription medications that help treat nausea and vomiting …but some come with risks during pregnancy. Talk with your physician to find out if there is one that may work for you.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Treatment

If you have been diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum and you have already tried home interventions—and a combo of vitamin B6 and doxylamine—your healthcare provider may move onto medications such as cyclizine prochlorperazine, chlorpromazine, or promethazine. And if you are dehydrated, IV fluids and vitamins may be in order.

CBD and Marijuana for Morning Sickness

Marijuana and CBD products are not recommended to relieve morning sickness symptoms. ACOG, the NHS, and the American Academy of Pediatrics advise folks to refrain from using marijuana during pregnancy and breastfeeding for any reason! Not only is there very limited research on the matter, the studies that have been done show that THC, the active chemical in marijuana, quickly and easily crosses the placenta. Plus, other data shows that using pot while pregnant may even increase risk for low birth weight, preterm birth, fetal growth restriction, and miscarriage.

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider About Morning Sickness

If your morning sickness interferes with your everyday life, do not hesitate to reach out to your doc or midwife for guidance and relief. And definitely call your healthcare provider if

  • You have vomited blood or anything that resembles coffee grounds.

  • You have vomited more than three times a day or you cannot keep food or liquid down.

  • You have lost a lot of weight.

  • Your urine is dark and concentrated.

  • You pee very infrequently.

  • Home remedies have not helped your morning sickness.

  • Morning sickness continues beyond 4 months of pregnancy.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.