Morning sickness - is it normal?

Morning sickness is the most common medical condition in early pregnancy, its effects vary widely from woman to woman. Approximately 8 out of 10 pregnant women feel sick and half of them actually vomit.

Like the majority of pregnant women, you may experience nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), commonly called morning sickness for a portion of your pregnancy. Although morning sickness can make you feel miserable, it is associated with a positive outcome. It means that the levels of pregnancy hormones in your body are high. Morning sickness is thought to be connected to the hormones human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) and estrogen produced by your body in large quantities until the placenta has grown enough to take over nourishing your baby.

When does it usually start and end?

About three quarters of pregnant women are affected by morning sickness during the first trimester. About half of pregnant women suffer from both nausea and vomiting, one quarter have nausea alone. The nausea usually starts around 6 weeks of pregnancy, but it can begin as early as 4 weeks. It tends to get worse over the next month or so.

About half of the women who get nausea during pregnancy feel complete relief by about 14 weeks. For the rest, it takes another month or so for the queasiness to ease up, though it may return later or come and go throughout pregnancy. Unfortunately, there is no way of predicting how long your morning sickness symptoms will last. A small percentage of women have symptoms that persist during the whole pregnancy.

Of course, just because morning sickness is common—and likely to last "only" a few months—doesn't mean it's not a challenge. Even a mild case of nausea can wear you down and bouts of round-the-clock nausea and vomiting can leave you exhausted and miserable. Some women experience mild to moderate symptoms, while others may have to cope with a more severe form of NVP called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), which may lead to dehydration and require hospitalization. Time of onset, duration and severity of NVP symptoms vary from one pregnancy to another. Talk with your caregiver about your symptoms and the possibilities for relief.