Common Questions About Morning Sickness

Why is it called morning sickness when I have it all night?

Pregnant woman leaning against tree in park
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The morning part of the name is a misnomer. Normal nausea and vomiting in pregnancy can happen at any time of the day or night. Many women will find that they have a personal pattern. Though morning can be a common time to experience a queasy feeling. Some women find that eating just before getting out of bed is helpful.

Because so many pregnant women experience morning sickness, there is a lot of room for misinformation. Included in this misinformation are old wives tales and other myths. Perhaps you've heard of these and others.

My morning sickness is bad. Does that mean I'm haiving a girl?

Some people are really big on trying to predict the sex of your baby with anything that they can. How is your belly shaped? Is your face puffy? The list goes on and on. One of these types of statements concerns whether or not you have morning sickness. So, can morning sickness predict if you're having a boy or a girl?

One study showed that women who had morning sickness severely enough to be hospitalized during their pregnancy were slightly more likely to have girls rather than boys. Severe morning sickness is called hyperemesis gravidarum.


The sex ratio of pregnancies complicated by hospitalisation for hyperemesis gravidarum. Schiff MA, Reed SD, Daling JR. BJOG. 2004 Jan;111(1):27-30.

I don't have morning sickness is my pregnancy healthy?

Morning sickness, while it effects many women, is not the key to a healthy pregnancy. Many women are able to have a healthy pregnancy without being sick even once. Morning sickness, also known as nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), is thought to be caused by a rise in pregnancy hormones, gastrointestinal sensitivities and potentially even stress.

Is the nausea and vomiting of early pregnancy really feto-protective? Weigel MM, Reyes M, Caiza ME, Tello N, Castro NP, Cespedes S, Duchicela S, Betancourt M. J Perinat Med. 2006;34(2):115-22.

My morning sickness has disappeared. Is my baby okay?

In general, morning sickness goes away towards the end of the first trimester. Some women will notice that their nausea and/or vomiting stay a bit longer, completely disappear, or ease up a bit but remain in a different form or some other variation.

What is more worrisome is the sudden disappearance of early pregnancy symptoms, including morning sickness. If this happens and you are worried, you can call your doctor. It could be a sign of problems with the pregnancy such as an impending miscarriage or it could be a non-issue.

I throw up after every meal. When should I go to the doctor?

Being ill is no fun. It can be stressful and worrisome since we associate nausea and vomiting with illness. Most women will not need medical assistance but just comfort care. You should call your midwife or doctor if:

  • You are losing weight.
  • You are dehydrated.
  • You can't function at work.
  • You can't function at home.
  • You are concerned.

How do I take care of morning sickness emergencies?

Nothing is more annoying than being away from home when you're feeling ill. Throwing up in a different place can be really awful. You may have to vomit while driving and pull over. You may be sick at work. I'd highly recommend that you have a plan and some back up plans. There are specialty products to help you like lined bags in case you're sick on the road or away from the bathroom.

What medications can I take for morning sickness?

The goal is always to try non-medicinal ways to deal with morning sickness first. This can include acupressure, acupuncture, hypnosis, dietary changes, etc. However, there will be some women who do not get relief from non-medicinal substances. This means that medication can possibly be an option to help women in this category.

Over the counter medications can be helpful for some women. None of these are approved for use with morning sickness, but with guidance from your doctor or midwife, they may be helpful:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Reflux medications (Pepcid, Zantac)
  • Emetrol
  • Unisom Nighttime Sleep Aid (not the SleepGels) combined with vitamin B6
  • Some herbal substances with the help of your practitioner

There are also prescription drugs that can be useful in helping control nausea and vomiting. These can include:

  • Zofran (expensive, not always covered by insurance)
  • Phenergan (pill and suppository form)
  • Compazine

There are also IV medications and other medications used to treat hyperemesis gravidarum.

Medications are not used for the entire pregnancy unless symptoms persist that long. You and your practitioner can talk about what the best plan is for your pregnancy.

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