How Long Does Morning Sickness Last?

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Morning sickness varies greatly from woman to woman, as it can last all day during the first part of pregnancy or it can be very subtle only during parts of the day. Learn about the different degrees of morning sickness with helpful information from a certified nurse-midwife in this free video on pregnancy.

Part of the Video Series: Pregnancy Information
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Video Transcript

Okay. So you're a little worried about this morning sickness stuff you've heard about. Or maybe you're already experiencing it. This is Mavis Schorn, certified nurse-midwife and professor at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. I'm here to try to help you and give you some tips with this. First of all, not all women do get sick when they're pregnant. Only about 50% of women get nausea during their pregnancy. And of that 50%, most of those get nausea to some degree or another. It might be just in the morning, but it could be even all day. So that phrase "morning sickness" is not really fair. It's just nausea with pregnancy. Now, some people get it, not just the nausea, but they also have vomiting. And it may just be one time, like in the morning, or it can be throughout the day. So there's a wide range from nothing- no nausea, no vomiting- to really having a difficult time keeping any kind of food or drink down. So let's talk mostly about that nausea category. And there are some things that you can do to try to help that. One is try to eat a little bit through the day. And usually keeping your liquids separate from your dry food helps. Having some snacks that are high in protein, like a little baggie of almonds or a cheese stick or something like that, to snack on so that you don't get a really empty stomach. And when it's time for a meal, you probably only want to eat about half of it. And maybe a couple hours later, eat the other half, because you don't want it to be empty, but you also don't want to be overfull, because that will also contribute. Some other little things: avoiding foods that have a real strong odor. That really can set people off. Or really greasy, spicy foods can really set it off, as well. Sometimes, there are little tricks you can do before it's time to eat, say a meal. And it really depends on you. Every single person's different. Sometimes something a little sour a half an hour before you're going to eat, like a lemon drop or taking a bite of a quarter piece of lemon. So that's an example of something sour. Or it could be something bitter, like grapefruit that's a little bit more bitter. Or even something sweet, like a little Tootsie Roll a half an hour before it's time to eat. Like I said, it's different for everybody, but sometimes a little something of those flavors before it's time to eat will allow you to actually go ahead and eat okay and not be too nauseous. Not eating very close to when it's time to lay down. And that may be nausea. It also could be reflux. When you lay down, just because of a loosening of the valve that connects your stomach to your esophagus, it relaxes because of the hormones of your pregnancy. And sometimes the gastric juices in your stomach kind of reflux up, and that adds to your nausea. So not laying down soon after you're eating can help. There are some alternative treatments, like acupressure. And acupressure you can do yourself. You can go to the pharmacy, like Walgreen's or CVS or any other pharmacy you go to, and they carry something called Sea-Bands, S-E-A bands. And they go around your wrists. And there's a little knob on there, and there will be a picture in that box. And it shows where that little knobby part hits on your wrist so that it gives some acupressure. It doesn't work for everybody, but it works for about half the people, which is better than not having anything. So it might be something to try, and it's real cheap. If nausea becomes so bad that you cannot keep food down, then you need to talk to your health care provider. If you're going along fine in pregnancy, but this is nausea, or you get past that first trimester and it comes back later in your third trimester and it's like your morning sickness stuff all over again, that can be associated with some other conditions. So if that nausea comes back later in pregnancy or either time, if it's so bad that you can't keep food down, you need to talk to your health care provider.

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