When Does Morning Sickness Start and End?

Up to 80% of pregnant people experience nausea and vomiting in the first trimester. Find out how long these symptoms typically last.

Morning sickness is one of the most common early pregnancy symptoms, but the severity varies for everyone. Some people feel a slight queasiness that comes and goes, while others feel sick enough to vomit. So when does morning sickness usually start and end? Here's a guide for parents-to-be.

When Does Morning Sickness Start?

While the morning sickness timeline isn't set in stone, most pregnant people start to feel queasy halfway through the first trimester, between weeks six and eight (though it may also start earlier. "Generally, it's not going to start after week 14," says Michele Hakakha, M.D., FACOG, an OB-GYN in Beverly Hills and author of Expecting 411. The exception: Late in pregnancy, your baby may push on your stomach and intestines, causing nausea. Many of the same strategies you use for standard morning sickness can also help with this late-pregnancy nausea.

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Scientists still don't fully understand what causes morning sickness or why some pregnant people will only feel a bit queasy while others will vomit. The leading theory is that the pregnancy hormone hCG, as well as estrogen, begin to rise in the body and trigger a cascade of responses, including nausea and vomiting. Some researchers think that morning sickness may be the body's way of protecting a growing fetus by purging the body of anything potentially toxic. This may explain certain food aversions or sensitivities to smells that previously didn't bother you.

In one study, researchers found that people with morning sickness symptoms were less likely to have a miscarriage. But that is not to say that if you don't have morning sickness, you should be concerned. Lots of expecting parents will skip the dreaded morning sickness phase and go on to deliver healthy babies.

For many pregnant folks, morning sickness symptoms will begin around week 6 of gestation. They often stop by 10-14 weeks but may continue until weeks 16 to 18—or occasionally until the end of pregnancy. Despite common misconception, the nausea doesn't only happen in the morning for many people.

To manage some of the less-than-pleasant symptoms, try eating salty crackers or ginger. You should also talk to your doctor about your prenatal vitamins. For some pregnant parents, the iron content in prenatal vitamins can be high enough to cause an upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting. In one study, researchers found that by simply avoiding iron in supplements, pregnant people were able to dramatically reduce the amount of morning sickness symptoms they felt. If you do opt to avoid iron in your vitamins, make sure you are getting iron—and folic acid—from another source.

A few great sources of iron and folic acid include:

  • Dark green leafy veggies like kale, spinach, and watercress
  • Brown rice
  • Fish and red meat
  • Tofu, nuts, and seeds

When Does Morning Sickness End?

Most people start to feel much better by week 16. Only a small number (around 10% of parents-to-be) experience nausea and vomiting all pregnancy long.

There are certain items that can help you feel better, like ginger candy or a vitamin B6 supplement. Over-the-counter and prescription medicines can also help, so make sure to talk to your doctor. Severe weight loss as a result of illness may be dangerous to a developing fetus and should be treated either at home or in a hospital setting, says Marra Francis, M.D., an obstetrician-gynecologist in The Woodlands, Texas.

If your morning sickness isn't letting up, let your doctor know. You could be dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), which is a severe form of morning sickness that can last the entire pregnancy. HG can be a debilitating condition that may require hospitalization for IV fluids. Some of the symptoms of HG include:

  • Nausea with extreme vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration and disruption of electrolytes
  • Inability to retain food or drink
  • Nausea does not ease

HG is rare; only around 2% of pregnant parents will experience this severe version of morning sickness.

Also, alert your doctor if morning sickness stops abruptly during the first trimester—but keep in mind that this doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong with your pregnancy. For some, nausea is a symptom that they feel every day, and for others, nausea is intermittent.

Dealing with morning sickness may not be the glowing part of pregnancy you were looking forward to, but it will not likely last for more than a few weeks. To help deter morning sickness, you can talk to your doctor about supplements, diet, exercise, and other factors that can help keep you from feeling a wave of green.

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