Everyone has questions about morning sickness. By getting the answers you need, you and your healthcare professional can talk about the steps necessary to help better manage your symptoms.
When does morning sickness start?
In the majority of women, morning sickness develops between the 4th and 6th week of pregnancy (or 4 to 6 weeks from your last menstrual period).1
How long does morning sickness last?
For most women, morning sickness starts between the 4th and 6th week of pregnancy, typically peaks at approximately the 9th week, and ends between the 12th and 16th week.1-3 However, morning sickness can last even longer. A study of pregnant women showed that about 9% still suffered from morning sickness after 20 weeks.4 For some, morning sickness symptoms last throughout the entire pregnancy.
What is NVP?
NVP stands for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. It is a real medical condition commonly referred to as morning sickness. NVP typically starts in the morning and continues into the afternoon and evening. If left untreated, symptoms can worsen and lead to dehydration and weight loss, requiring hospitalization. Early treatment can prevent more serious complications, including hospitalization.5
How common is NVP?
NVP is very common; 70% to 85% of pregnant women suffer from this medical condition.5
What is hyperemesis gravidarum?
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) appears to be the extreme end of the spectrum of NVP. HG is described as having constant and excessive nausea and/or vomiting that prevents a pregnant woman from taking in proper amounts of food and fluids. The percentage of pregnant women who experience HG ranges from 0.5% to 2%.5 HG is the second most common reason (preterm labor is the first) requiring hospitalization during the first part of pregnancy.
Should I talk to my healthcare professional if I only have nausea without vomiting?
Yes, your healthcare professional should know how you are feeling, even if you only have nausea. Some studies have shown that nausea itself is the most distressing symptom of morning sickness.6-8 It is recommended that you speak to your healthcare professional any time your symptoms are affecting your well-being or activities of daily living. Early symptoms may indicate that you could suffer from more severe symptoms of NVP.
Is it possible that morning sickness will have a large impact on the quality of my life?
Unfortunately, morning sickness can have a significant impact on pregnant women. In a survey of pregnant women, nearly 40% said they felt depressed "always" or "most of the time."9 If the symptoms of morning sickness are affecting your well-being and activities of daily living, speak with your healthcare professional for immediate treatment recommendations.
Will morning sickness affect my baby?
Morning sickness does not mean your baby is sick or that your baby is in harm's way. Untreated morning sickness may keep you from gaining weight and staying hydrated during your pregnancy. If you don't drink enough fluids or are vomiting frequently, you may be hospitalized for excessive dehydration. Also, morning sickness may affect your appetite, making it harder to keep a balanced diet. If you are prevented from eating enough food, your body may lose essential weight and harm your baby in the long run.10 Therefore, it is important to maintain your nutrition and that you speak with your healthcare professional about your morning sickness.
- Lacasse A, Rey E, Ferreira E, Morin C, Berard A. Epidemiology of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: prevalence, severity, determinants, and the importance of race/ethnicity. BMC Preg Child. 2009:9:26-34.
- Gadsby R, Barnie-Adshed AM, Jagger C. A prospective of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Br J Gen Pract. 1993;43:245-248.
- Niebyl JR. Clinical practice. Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. N Engl J Med. 2010;363(16):1544-1550.
- Klebanoff M A, Koslone R A, Kaslow R, Rhoads G G. Epidemiology of vomiting in early pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol.1985;6:612-616.
- ACOG Practice Bulletin, Clinical Management Guidelines for Obstetrician–Gynecologists, Number 52, April 2004:803-804.
- Smith C, Crowther C, Beilby J, Dandeaux J. The Impact of nausea and vomiting on women: a burden of early pregnancy. Aust NZ J Obstet Gynaecol. 2000;40(4):397-401.
- Mazzotta P, Stewart D, Atanackovic G, Koren G, Magee LA. Psychosocial morbidity among women with nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: prevalence: prevalence and association with anti-emetic therapy. J Psychosom Obstet Gynecol. 2000;21:129-136.
- Koren G, Maltepe C, Navioz Y, Adac Wolpin J. Recall bias of the symptoms of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2004;190:485-488.
- Mazzotta P, Maltepe C, Navioz Y, Magee LA, Koren G. Attitudes, management and consequences of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy in the United States and Canada. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2000;70(3):359-365.
- Coetzee RL, Cormack B, Sadler L, Bloomfield FH. Pregnancy and neonatal outcomes following hyperemesis gravidarum. J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2011;2(2):1-8. doi:10.1017/S2040174410000735.
When does morning sickness end?
In approximately 90% of cases, it stops by the 16th week. Approximately 10% of cases last beyond the 16th week with some women experiencing NVP through the entire pregnancy.
Talking to your healthcare professional
Don’t ignore NVP, learn what you can do.
More than saltines and ginger ale
Tips for coping with morning sickness and NVP.