Early symptom: morning sickness

Morning sickness or ‘all day and all night sickness’, involves feeling nauseated and possibly vomiting. It is one of the most common physical complaints of early pregnancy and is due to your body’s reaction to the high levels of pregnancy hormones in the body.

Morning sickness strikes at any time of the day

Many women find that certain smells, or even pushing the toothbrush too far down the back of your throat, can cause them to be overwhelmed with nausea or vomit.

Morning sickness plagues up to 85% of all pregnant women. Mainly a feature of early pregnancy, morning sickness usually begins around the fourth week of pregnancy and continues until around 12 weeks when it begins to resolve itself.

For an unlucky minority, morning sickness can continue well into the second trimester and in rare circumstances, some pregnant women suffer morning sickness for the entire duration of their pregnancy.

As its name implies, morning sickness often strikes first thing in the morning but it isn’t unusual for sufferers to experience bouts of morning sickness at any time of the day or night.

Heartburn and nausea in early pregnancy

Heartburn is defined as a burning sensation in the middle of your chest; it often occurs after eating. You may also experience an acid or bitter taste in your mouth and increased pain when you bend over or lie down. It may – or may not – be accompanied by nausea.

Heartburn discomfort is another common complaint of pregnancy and feels like a burning sensation behind the breastbone, sometimes accompanied by a sour fluid regurgitating into your mouth.

During the first trimester, nearly 25% of all pregnant women have heartburn, increasing in the third trimester. Later, it may become more severe when your growing baby compresses your digestive tract. Eat small, frequent meals. One sure way to get heartburn is to eat a large meal, then lie down!

How to deal with nausea or heartburn

Ease mild symptoms with simple lifestyle adjustments:

  • Try raising the head of your bed by about 15cm by propping yourself up on pillows
  • Avoid late nights meals/snacks
  • Avoid spicy and acidic foods
  • Give up alcohol and smoking – as well as harming you, cigarettes and alcohol are risks to the good health of your developing baby
  • Eat little and often and avoid foods that make you nauseous
  • Try not to get tired, as tiredness can aggravate the symptoms.

Severe morning sickness

A small number of women suffer from a severe form of morning sickness called Hyperemesis Gravidarum. If left untreated, this condition can cause life-threatening complications for mum and her unborn baby.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum symptoms include:

  • Persistent excessive vomiting (more than 3 or 4 times a day)
  • Unrelenting, severe nausea
  • Dehydration
  • A decrease in urination due to dehydration
  • Maternal weight loss or failure to gain weight
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Headaches and confusion

Hyperemesis Gravidarum usually lasts longer than the usual first trimester period for morning sickness but it does tend to resolve around 21 weeks – although, about half of HG sufferers experience symptoms for the entire duration of their pregnancy.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a serious condition that needs aggressive treatment and care to avoid life-threatening complications. Early intervention and treatment, which very often includes hospitalisation, is vital to keep both mum and baby from becoming seriously unwell.

Other early symptoms

You can find out about other signs and symptoms of early pregnancy at the following links:

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