When does morning sickness start? Well, “morning” sickness is a total misnomer. The nausea and/or vomiting associated with this particular pregnancy symptom isn’t exclusive to daybreak; it can strike at any time, morning, noon, or night.
Some mamas-to-be view it as a rite of passage. Others dread the thought of it. And some lucky souls will barely register an upset stomach or change in diet. However you see it or experience it, morning sickness prompts quite a few questions during the early stages of pregnancy.
For instance, when does morning sickness start and end? What does it feel like? When is it at its worst? And what can you do about it? Scroll on for the answers.
How soon does morning sickness start?
Generally speaking, morning sickness kicks in 6 weeks into pregnancy.
Symptoms can start out mild and progressively worsen, and sometimes nausea can be the first inkling that there’s a teeny-tiny bun in your oven.
So, how does morning sickness feel?
Now that’s a question with many answers.
Most mamas-to-be describe the general queasiness which accompanies morning sickness as similar to that of car sickness or seasickness. Everything’s just a bit spinny and gross, and you don’t want to move or do anything.
However, the symptoms and severity of morning sickness can vary from one woman to the next, so your experience may not tick all of these boxes. Still, be on the lookout for:
- Intense nausea which leads to vomiting;
- Dizziness, low energy, and tiredness;
- Sore stomach or cramping;
- Nausea that’s accompanied by hunger pangs;
- Nausea that follows eating (you just can’t win);
- And strong aversions to foods, smells, or tastes — so strong, in fact, that it can make you sick.
When is morning sickness at its worst?
From the moment those motion sickness-like symptoms start, you’re basically riding a rollercoaster of bleugh. But as you edge closer and closer to the end of the first trimester (week 12), morning sickness should peak and then subside. You’ll usually feel better and brighter from week 16 onwards and, if you’re lucky, symptom-free from week 20.
But here comes the bad news. Around 1 in 10 women will continue to ride the Space Mountain of morning sickness well into the second trimester. And, although rare, some will develop something called hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness which can last throughout pregnancy and often requires medical attention.
Is morning sickness dangerous?
It’s not nice, it’s not fun, and it can send you running for the nearest toilet at the very mention of a hard-boiled egg — but morning sickness is rarely harmful for you or baby.
In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest that morning sickness is a positive thing. Crazy, right? Turns out, that queasy feeling could point to your placenta producing the goods, releasing loads of super-duper pregnancy-boosting hormones to prep your body and baby for birth and beyond.
Where things do get a little scary is when nausea and vomiting become extreme and uncontrollable (aka hyperemesis gravidarum, mentioned earlier).
Like we said, it’s rare, but if you’re unable to keep anything down, it could lead to dehydration, malnutrition, and weight loss. That’s when you’ll need to speak to your doctor. They’ll check you over and bring your vomiting under control to help you (and your baby) stay suitably nourished, hydrated, and healthy.
How to treat morning sickness
So, we’ve established that morning sickness in early pregnancy is perfectly normal, but that doesn’t mean you need to suck it up and suffer through it.
Over the years, mamas have shared a variety of home remedies to keep the queasiness at bay. The only problem is, there’s no single sure-fire fix. Given the nature of morning sickness, one mama’s heavenly reprieve is another’s hellish vomit-inducing nightmare.
In other words, the following ideas require some trial and error!
To combat morning sickness, you could try:
- Noting and avoiding the smells, tastes, and foods which trigger your morning sickness (obvs)
- Increasing the amount of rest you’re getting during the day
- Drinking ginger or peppermint tea to settle your stomach
- Diffusing your favorite essential oils or lighting a subtle scented candle (nothing too strong)
- Sipping plenty of fluid throughout the day to stay hydrated
- Eating small, frequent meals in place of traditional, larger meals (you may find your morning sickness is worse when your stomach is full or empty, so aim for the happy medium)
- Avoiding starchy, heavy, and greasy foods (keep it light!)
- Eating something plain as soon as you wake up, like toast or crackers
- Keeping cool with a fan or a cold drink (when you overheat, it can make nausea worse)
- Acupuncture, acupressure, or prenatal massage to ease any aches and pains
- Gentle exercise, like prenatal swimming, yoga, or pilates classes, or join a local walking group — a bit of movement and fresh air can work wonders
Stumped for things to try? Ask the mamas on Peanut for some inspiration. And if these remedies aren’t doing the trick, you may need a supplement or anti-sickness medication to keep things under control.
Should you be worried if you don’t experience morning sickness?
If the majority of women experience morning sickness at some point during pregnancy, it can be worrying if you find yourself in the minority without symptoms.
Does it mean your body falling down on the job where hormones are concerned? Are you missing out on an essential experience if you’re not yakking into a garbage can between meetings?
Nope, nope, and most certainly nope.
For context, the minority of women who experience only mild nausea (or no nausea at all) is actually 20% - 25%, so you have roughly a 1 in 4 shot at coasting through your pregnancy feeling just fine. In fact, plenty of women have perfectly healthy pregnancies with little-to-no morning sickness. Result!
You might just be lucky that you’re not overly sensitive to hormonal changes. Or maybe you have an ironclad stomach, making you less prone to nausea and vomiting.
Just remember that zero signs of morning sickness after week 6 doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. The queasiness can rear its head at any point during the second and third months of pregnancy, too. So don’t be too quick to gloat that you can eat what you want without it reappearing — there’s still time.
Lastly, you’re not alone…
Given that morning sickness affects roughly 75% - 80% of women during pregnancy, chances are you have friends and relatives who’ve endured it (not to mention the mamas on Peanut).
Everyone’s experience is different, but don’t be afraid to lean on your network for support, tips, and advice. And the good news is, once you’re over the worst of it, you’re that little bit closer to meeting your baby. We’ll drink (some peppermint tea) to that!