Last updated on April 27th, 2021

Morning sickness is the most conspicuous symptom of pregnancy. Almost every woman experiences bouts of nausea and vomiting during the first trimester. A selected few continue to suffer until their delivery. Morning sickness starts between the 4th and 6th week of pregnancy. It starts as soon as a woman conceives. Although it is called morning sickness, the nauseous feeling can strike at any time of the day. 

Several factors trigger morning sickness. This article aims at shedding light on the causes of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.

Causes of Morning Sickness

Rise in hormones

During the early months of pregnancy, there is a rapid rise in the level of hormones such as Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG is the hormone secreted once the fertilized egg is implanted on the uterine wall) and estrogen. For this reason, it is often observed that women carrying multiples, twins or triplets, suffer severe morning sickness as the levels of HCG are higher than a single pregnancy. Though the sudden surge in the level of hormones is attributed to be one of the main causes of morning sickness, there is no substantial evidence of how hormones contribute to morning sickness.

A highly sensitive gastrointestinal tract

The changes initiated by pregnancy also have an impact on the gastrointestinal tract. Thus, pregnant women who have a sensitive stomach may feel nauseous, especially when they eat spicy and rich food. Selected studies also state that the stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori’s presence causes prolonged nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.

Morning Sickness

Increased sensitivity to smell and odors

During pregnancy, usually the first trimester, women develop a very sharp sense of smell. The sensitivity to smell is so strong that they can smell foods even over a great distance. One would find nothing wrong with it. However, the strong smell and aroma of food actually make women sick. Many complain of a churning sensation in the stomach and a nauseous feeling even if they are served their favorite foods. This does not only happen with food, but also with other items such as perfumes. Thus, the high sensitivity to smells aggravates the problem of morning sickness. 


Morning SicknessNausea and vomiting during pregnancy may also develop as a response to stress. A few researchers have proposed this view; however, it still lacks concrete evidence.

In addition to the factors mentioned above, it has been noted that some women have a higher tendency to develop morning sickness. Women who have suffered vomiting and nausea in the previous pregnancy will suffer it in consequent pregnancies too. Those with a history of migraines, motion sickness, genetic predisposition (if your mother or sisters have suffered morning sickness), and those who have developed nausea and vomiting as a side effect of birth control pills are more likely to develop morning sickness than others.


The queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach makes you sick. There are times when your stomach growls with hunger, but when you actually spoon and bite into your food, you feel like throwing up. All you want to do is curl in bed and rest. How you wish you could choose your pregnancy symptoms! Morning sickness decreases by the end of the first trimester. However, till then, you have to pull through those first few uneasy weeks. Even if you’re constantly on the edge of bringing up, you have to eat something for the sake of your baby. So if you’re pregnant and struggling with morning sickness, the following are some of the methods to cope.

Tips to relieve vomiting and nausea during pregnancy

  • Eat many Smaller Meals – Regularly, we eat three large meals- breakfast, lunch, and dinner. During pregnancy, instead of three meals, break up the daily calorie intake into six smaller meals. It will aid digestion and ensure that the stomach does not remain empty—snack on dry toasts, crackers, dry fruits, nuts, or dry cereal.
  • Allow Your Food to Digest – Walk for a while after you have eaten food. Do not sleep immediately.
  • Prenatal Vitamins – You should take the recommended prenatal vitamins without fail. It will help reduce nausea. Not only this, it gives the body the strength to go through the day in the absence of food. One should never take vitamins on an empty stomach because they will make you feel worse. Many-a-times, the prenatal vitamins do not agree with the stomach, especially iron. You can speak to your doctor about lowering the dose if possible.

Morning Sickness

  • Avoid Triggers – In women with high smell sensitivity, morning sickness is usually triggered by certain scents and smells. Try to avoid these smells. Do not go and open the refrigerator packed with food early in the morning as it may upset your stomach. For the first few initial weeks, eat what you feel like, even if it does not constitute a healthy balanced diet. Avoid rich, fatty, and spicy foods as it irritates the stomach and is hard to digest. It is advised that you eat easy to digest, bland foods. It would help if you also avoided non-food triggers such as the heavy smell of perfume, very bright lights, a car ride, or flickering lights.
  • Increase Intake of Fluids – Dehydration and morning sickness are a dangerous combination. Even if you keep throwing up, do not decrease your fluid intake. Drink plenty of water. You can also drink fresh fruit juices, clear soda, and tea. Don’t drink a full glass of water or juice in a single go. Sip it continuously.
  • Rest – Rest is also necessary. Sleep well at night. Try to nap whenever you can. Short naps will help the body recuperate after a bout of nausea and vomiting. When you wake up in the morning, do not get up immediately. Sit for a while and then go to brush your teeth.
  • Get Fresh Air – A warm stuffy room could also make a pregnant woman feel sick. Therefore, try to get fresh air. Open the windows of the room or a vehicle. Breathe deeply.
  • Home Remedies – Home remedies also prove useful when it comes to relieving morning sickness. When you feel nauseous, suck on a cube of ice. In the form of chew tablets (crystallized ginger or ginger candies) or light tea, Ginger is also known to reduce nausea. You can also suck on peppermint candies or drink peppermint tea. Sniffing a slice of lemon can also help relieve nausea. 

Frequently Asked Questions | FAQs

Morning Sickness

Does morning sickness need hospitalization?

Extreme and prolonged nausea and vomiting may require hospitalization. This condition is called Hyperemesis Gravidarum. And if left untreated, it could result in low birth weight or preterm birth. It could also lead to dehydration, and weight loss has a negative impact on the unborn baby. Hyperemesis Gravidarum cannot be treated with home remedies. Your doctor will most likely put you on IV and anti-nausea medications.

Will morning sickness harm your little one?

More than the discomfort caused by morning sickness, expectant women are worried about how morning sickness could impact the health and well being of their little one. Many moms-to-be ask if morning sickness harms their little one. No, morning sickness does not harm the growing fetus. As long as you can retain some food or don’t get dehydrated, there is no need to worry.

When does it sound like a warning bell?

Morning sickness is normal and will subside towards the end of the day. However, you may have to contact your health care provider if:

  • Nausea or vomiting becomes very severe.
  • If flu-like symptoms accompany the vomiting
  • If you feel dizzy and faint
  • If the body does not retain even fluids and your weight drops
  • If you vomit blood
  • And if you pass a very small amount of dark-colored urine. 

Leave a comment