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"Morning sickness" is probably the single most famous early pregnancy symptom. Most women know that it really shouldn't be called that pregnancy nausea can show up at any time of the day or night, and it may or may not lead to vomiting.

The frequency and severity of pregnancy nausea varies from woman to woman, but also from pregnancy to pregnancy. Still, the vast majority suffer from it at some point during pregnancy. Up to 70 percent, actually. 

Causes of pregnancy nausea

Pregnancy nausea is one of the first signs of pregnancy for many women. When it shows up, it will usually come and go at least until the first trimester is done but some women experience nausea throughout their pregnancies. But what causes this irritating and yet usually quite reassuring symptom? With all the scientific advances that we see everyday, it's quite disappointing to know that the exact cause of pregnancy nausea is still unclear. We can safely name a category, though, and that's "pregnancy hormones" of course! During the early stages of pregnancy, human chorionic gonadotropin plays a key role.

That's hCG for short. The "H" isn't capitalized because other mammals also have this hormone, and in that case the first letter is the name of that species. And, hCG is the very hormone that makes your at-home pregnancy test positive when you've missed your period. This fellow might well make you sick too, quite literally. Estrogen is another hormone that could be contributing to pregnancy sickness. And your pregnancy hormones also make you more sensitive to smells and tastes, make you tired, and give you a more sensitive stomach. All of these things could be playing a role in your pregnancy nausea.

How long will it last? How often will you be sick?

Many women start experiencing pregnancy nausea very, very early in their pregnancies yes, sometimes even before they missed their periods! Others take a while longer. Those who do have pregnancy nausea at all will usually notice it by the eighth week of pregnancy. It usually gets better after the first trimester (that's the first 12 weeks) passes, but not always. Some women feel nauseous much longer than that, and even throughout their pregnancies. In some severe cases, the nausea is so bad that the woman is at risk of dehydration because she vomits all the time. That's called hyperemesis gravidarum, and it could take the woman to hospital.

Most women don't have it quite that bad, though. You might feel sick on and off throughout the day, or only at a certain time of day. Some smells or tastes could trigger your nausea, or you may feel it's worse when you are tired or stressed. "Morning sickness" has good company. Many irritating pregnancy symptoms peak in the first trimester. They include terrible fatigue (you may need to take a nap in the daytime), more frequent urination, emotional changes (lots of crying or yelling), breast changes (they get bigger and sore) and skin changes (you may look like a teenager). The good news is that most of these symptoms get better after the first trimester is all done. They then make way for other changes, like an obviously pregnant belly and feeling your baby kick. Much more exciting than vomiting!

So what can you do about it?

You could wait it out. You never quite know when it will end, but you can be quite sure that you'll definitely not have pregnancy nausea after you give birth. If you don't want to feel terrible, you can try a few things. Keeping your blood sugar levels steady by eating small meals frequently seems to help a lot of women, and is a healthy habit during pregnancy anyway. Staying away from your personal triggers may reduce the sickness. Lemon, ginger and mint are all home remedies against nausea and they are quite a tasty combination. Fresh air and lots of rest may make you feel better too.

And try eating a dry cracker right before you get up if you tend to feel sick early in the morning. Finally, you might try... coca cola. It really, really helped me during my pregnancies. After half a glass or so, I'd feel much better. No kidding. And yeah, I'm away that coke isn't really a healthy drink. Try to moderate yourself. If your nausea is really quite bad, to the point you are having trouble keeping most foods and fluids down, definitely see your doctor. You might have hyperemesis gravidarum, and you could benefit from prescription medication to help with the nausea.

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