How Long Does Nausea Last in Pregnancy?

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Expecting Better" by Emily Oster. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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Nausea is very common in pregnancy – 90% of women report nausea, and >50% report vomiting. The important thing concerning nausea is to know when you have an unusually high level of nausea, and when to seek help.

Here’s what normal nausea looks like:

  • Nausea peaks at 5-8 weeks pregnant, with about 45% of women reporting vomiting; it declines steadily from then on. In weeks 13-16, about 25% report vomiting. By week 20, only about 8% of women continue vomiting.
  • Normal levels of vomiting aren’t as bad as you might expect – it’s concentrated in an average of 6 days over the whole pregnancy, occurs fewer than 3 times a day, and should NOT lead to dehydration or weight loss. 

In other words, if you are vomiting everyday for weeks, this is atypical.

There’s a silver lining to morning sickness. Luckily, nausea is inversely correlated with miscarriages – in one study, 30% of women without nausea had a miscarriage, compared to 8% who did.

Pregnant women have had scares with anti-nausea medication before – thalidomide caused birth defects, and Bendectin (B6 + Unisom) was pulled off the market. However, Oster argues that the mother’s comfort is quite important, particularly if it affects her diet and well-being, and OTC anti-nausea medications are not shown to be bad.

Oster’s recommendations for nausea cures, in declining order of preference:

  1. Eat smaller meals
  2. Vitamin B6
  3. Vitamin B6 + Unisom
  4. Zofran
How Long Does Nausea Last in Pregnancy?

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  • Why much parenting advice you hear is confusing or nonsense
  • The most reliable way to conceive successfully
  • How much alcohol research shows you can drink safely while pregnant (it's more than zero)
  • The best foods to eat, and what foods you really should avoid

Allen Cheng

Allen Cheng is the founder of Shortform. He has a passion for non-fiction books (having read 200+ and counting) and is on a mission to make the world's best ideas more accessible to everyone. He reads broadly, covering a wide range of subjects including finance, management, health, and society. Allen graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude and attended medical training at the MD/PhD program at Harvard and MIT. Before Shortform, he co-founded PrepScholar, an online education company.

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