How Soon Does Morning Sickness Start
How Soon Does Morning Sickness Start? Morning sickness is a common and unpleasant part of being pregnant — for most people, it lasts about six weeks. It’s more likely to occur if you have a higher-risk pregnancy (such as an ectopic pregnancy), are older than 35 years old, or have multiple pregnancies. And while some nausea disappears as soon as the woman gets through her second trimester, others last throughout the entire duration of pregnancy. Fortunately, there are medications available that can help relieve symptoms so they don’t interfere with daily life.
The term “morning sickness” dates back to 1825 when the British obstetrician William Wordsworth coined it to describe a condition in which women felt sick during their menstrual periods. While scientists aren’t sure what causes morning sickness, some believe it has something to do with hormonal changes. During pregnancy, circulating levels of estrogen increase dramatically, causing dramatic shifts in blood flow and body chemistry. The result is a drop in oxygen supply to the fetus. Other theories suggest it could be due to excess carbon dioxide produced by the placenta, changes in the brain’s serotonin receptors, or a deficiency in folate (vitamin B9).
Whatever the cause, morning sickness affects nearly all pregnant women at least occasionally. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, 70 percent of all pregnant women experienced nausea, vomiting or both at least once during early pregnancy. Women also report other symptoms including fatigue, headaches, dizziness, constipation and heartburn. Nausea usually starts between the sixth and 12th weeks of pregnancy. For some, it appears out of nowhere — sudden onset nausea is known as hematemesis gravidarum [WebMD]. If severe enough, this type of morning sickness can lead to dehydration and even death.
Symptoms vary from person to person; some feel nauseated only during specific times of day, such as mornings or late at night. Others suffer no matter what time of day. Some women find relief from stress relievers like ginger ale, coffee, crackers or pretzels, while others need stronger measures like medication.
In this article, we’ll talk about how long morning sickness typically lasts, why it occurs and how to cope with it. We’ll also discuss when doctors recommend taking prenatal vitamins, whether supplements or not, and how those affect morning sickness.
Keep reading to learn all about morning sickness and its effects on fetuses.
Effects on Fetus/Infants
It’s generally believed that morning sickness doesn’t negatively impact a baby’s development because the mother’s stomach isn’t big enough to hold anything but air. However, experts say some things should be avoided, particularly alcohol, cigarettes, drugs and caffeinated beverages since these substances pass into breast milk. Pregnant women should also avoid exposure to environmental toxins, such as pesticides found in food and household cleaners.
Even though morning sickness is uncomfortable and embarrassing, studies show it doesn’t significantly decrease fertility. One study of almost 1,000 couples showed that neither partners’ sexual activity nor conception rates were affected by either partner’s level of morning sickness. Another study found that women who took folic acid reduced their risk of having a child born with neural tube defects by 50 percent.
Prenatal Care Recommendations
While morning sickness itself doesn’t pose any serious health risks to babies, mothers do need access to adequate medical care. This means seeing a doctor regularly throughout pregnancy. Doctors will monitor weight gain, check fetal position and movement, and perform tests to ensure proper growth and development. They might order ultrasounds, listen to the heartbeat or take blood samples. A nurse practitioner or midwife provides routine care visits and makes referrals to specialists.
Doctors recommend starting prenatal vitamin supplements a few weeks before the expected delivery date. Most often, women ingest 500 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid per day, although some choose to take less based on personal preference or side effects. Pregnancy guidelines advise against consuming too much iron or calcium, however. Since high doses of vitamins can upset a delicate balance within the body, consult your physician before adding them to your diet. Also, make sure the multivitamins you take include prenatal vitamins. Many contain ingredients that shouldn’t be taken together, such as caffeine, aspirin and iron.
Some people think morning sickness improves after the third trimester. Read on to see if that’s true.
Most pregnant women take prenatal vitamins. What are the benefits?
Women who take prenatal vitamins tend to give birth to healthier infants. According to one study, children whose mothers had been supplementing their diets with 400 mcg of folic acid per day gave birth to children with fewer developmental problems and mental retardation. Vitamin deficiencies in the mother can cause poor fetal development, low birth weights, stillbirths and infant mortality. Maternal nutrient intake plays a vital role in ensuring optimal fetal development. Even small variations in dietary nutrients can produce major differences in offspring size and quality.
Postpartum Care Recommendations
After giving birth, postpartum care focuses on recovery and healing. Mothers rest and eat well to regain energy and strength. Massage therapy enhances circulation and helps promote lymphatic drainage to prevent fluid buildup in the abdomen that leads to varicose veins. Exercise stimulates cardiac output and strengthens muscles.
Physical therapists use gentle movements to ease sore muscles and joints. Postnatal depression is rare, affecting about 2 percent of new moms, but treatment is effective. Talk to your healthcare provider if you suspect you have signs of depression.
Keep reading to discover how soon morning sickness ends.
Studies show that most women get better quicker than men after childbirth. Why? Men recover faster because they spend less time sitting down. They walk more and sleep longer. Plus, male hormones play a role in stimulating muscle mass and increasing appetite.
Ending Morning Sickness
With good nutrition, exercise and plenty of rest, most women manage to endure the final months of pregnancy without experiencing morning sickness. Unfortunately, there’s little research on how quickly morning sickness begins or ends. Generally, women begin to feel better after three to four days following a water loss, which happens during vomiting episodes. Vomiting stops when the stomach empties.
Afterward, most women continue to improve until the end of the month.
Since morning sickness is caused by fluctuations in hormone production, women who experience extreme bouts of morning sickness may want to consider trying hormonal treatments. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) involves replacing missing hormones to restore normal function. Commonly used hormones include progesterone, estradiol and testosterone. Doctors prescribe HRT pills orally or via a patch. These treatments work best when combined with lifestyle modifications aimed at reducing the severity of nausea. Dietary changes include avoiding spicy foods, citrus fruits, greasy meals and fatty meats. Drinking fluids with electrolytes keep stomach contents balanced. Avoiding nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and large amounts of antacids can help reduce discomfort. Finally, try relaxing techniques, such as meditation, yoga or massage.
Read on for links on coping with morning sickness.
A lack of protein can trigger morning sickness. Protein stimulates the release of oxytocin, a chemical associated with relaxation and triggering contractions. When protein is lacking, oxytocin is released inappropriately, resulting in nausea and vomiting. To keep proteins in moderate quantities, researchers recommend limiting red meat consumption to 3 ounces per meal, eating leaner cuts of meat and selecting lower-fat dairy products.
Coping With Morning Sickness
Many women turn to over-the-counter remedies to alleviate morning sickness. Although none of these cures has been proven scientifically, some claim to provide relief. Ginger contains constituents called gingerols and shogaol, compounds thought to reduce inflammation. Studies show ginger reduces nausea and motion sickness. Chewing sugarless gum containing potassium citrate can enhance the absorption of sodium citrate, which prevents gastric reflux. Peppermint oil contains menthol, which reduces mucus membranes and treats dry mouth. Licorice root extract contains glycyrrhizin, a compound that binds to cell walls in the lining of the digestive tract.
Eating bananas, oranges or carrots can help absorb vitamins. Citrus fruit juices and herbal teas can aid digestion.
For information on treating and preventing morning sickness, read WebMD’s article “Coping with Morning Sickness.”
To prevent further nausea, wear loose clothing made of cotton or linen. Don’t scratch, rub or pick at blisters. Take frequent walks outside if possible, especially in the fresh air. Keep hydrated by drinking lots of liquids. Eat bland foods, such as rice, potatoes, boiled eggs, toast and soup. Stay away from mint tea, garlic and onion.
No matter how intense morning sickness becomes, never stop exercising. Staying active increases circulation boosts mood and promotes healthy fetal development.
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