What Is Morning Sickness?
It can be difficult to celebrate the joys of pregnancy when all you're worried about is whether you'll be able to keep your next meal down. Unfortunately, nausea and vomiting of pregnancy is a very common problem, especially in the first trimester
. So, if you're early in your pregnancy and find yourself nauseated and/or vomiting, you can rest assured that you're not alone. In fact, it's estimated that up to 90 percent of pregnant women are affected by the problem to some extent.
Nausea and vomiting normally begin by the fifth or sixth week of pregnancy and then worsen over the next month or two. Keep the 16th to 18th week of pregnancy in your sights -- that's when most women feel better. However, 15 percent to 20 percent of women will continue to experience symptoms up until their third trimester
, and an unlucky 5 percent will have nausea and vomiting throughout their entire pregnancy.
Although nausea and vomiting of pregnancy is commonly referred to as "morning sickness," that term is misleading at best, and oftentimes downright inaccurate. It's true that for some women, symptoms are worse in the morning and then subside as the day goes on. However, for others, nausea can strike any time of the day, not just the morning, and may be present throughout the entire day.
Also, the severity of symptoms can vary from woman to woman. While some women only have mild nausea without vomiting, others experience moderate symptoms of nausea with vomiting.
When symptoms are severe, the condition is referred to as hyperemesis gravidarum. Women with hyperemesis gravidarum may have nausea and vomiting that is so intense it causes them to throw up several times a day, lose weight, become dehydrated, and need to be hospitalized. Thankfully, hyperemesis gravidarum only occurs rarely. And if you didn't have it during a past pregnancy, chances are slim you'll have it during this one.
In general, recommendations for how to cope with the problem will depend, in part, on when you have symptoms and how severe they are.