What you need to know about morning sickness and NVP

What is morning sickness and NVP?

"Everyone gets it."
"It will go away eventually."
"It started just by looking at food."

Whether you've heard the stories or have experienced it yourself, the nausea and vomiting of morning sickness is not easy. That's why it's important to understand that morning sickness is a real medical condition called NVP. NVP stands for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy and is commonly referred to as morning sickness. NVP is very common; 70% to 85% experience the discomforts of NVP.1

Survey responses from women experiencing NVP have shown that NVP can be depressing and debilitating for those suffering from this condition. Understanding NVP and how to manage those symptoms can help minimize the emotional and physical toll.

When does morning sickness, also known as NVP, start?

  • Develops between the 4th and 6th week of pregnancy2
  • In approximately 90% of cases, it stops by the 16th week
  • Approximately 10% of cases last beyond the 16th week with some women experiencing NVP through the entire pregnancy

What are the symptoms of NVP?

  • Nausea, retching, gagging, dry heaving, and/or vomiting
  • Increased sense of smell to odor and food
  • Increased salivation
  • Bitter, metallic, or sour taste in the mouth
  • Fatigue

What causes NVP (commonly referred to as morning sickness)?

The cause of morning sickness and NVP is not fully understood, but it's generally believed to be a combination of changes that are occurring in your body during pregnancy, including higher hormone levels. An increase in hormone levels is a natural part of pregnancy and there is generally no reason for alarm. Factors that may contribute to morning sickness include:
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG): This is a hormone that can directly affect the stomach by irritating the lining and acids. Studies have shown that there is a close correlation between the levels of hCG during the first trimester and feelings of nausea.
Placenta: The placenta is the organ that not only supplies oxygen and nutrients to the baby, but also produces important hormones needed for a healthy pregnancy. Some women can become sensitive to the hormones produced by the placenta and can develop morning sickness.
Estrogen: Levels of the female reproductive hormone estrogen can rise very high during pregnancy. Increased estrogen has been associated with feelings of nausea during pregnancy.
Blood sugar: It is natural for blood sugar to drop during the night. So when you wake in the morning, low blood sugar may cause a feeling of nausea.

It's important to recognize your morning sickness symptoms when they start. Talk to your healthcare professional about ways to manage your morning sickness that won't impact the well-being of your baby.

Although NVP is commonly referred to as morning sickness, approximately 14% of women experience symptoms only in the morning.3 NVP affects up to 58% of pregnant women throughout the day.3 The extreme end of the spectrum of NVP, called hyperemesis gravidarum, can put women at risk of dehydration and significant maternal weight loss, which often requires hospitalization. The percentage of pregnant women who experience hyperemesis gravidarum ranges from 0.5% to 2%.1

Morning sickness doesn't happen only in the morning.2

Symptoms of NVP occur throughout the day


See how the burden of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy can affect you >



  1. ACOG Practice Bulletin, Clinical Management Guidelines for Obstetrician–Gynecologists, Number 52, April 2004:803-804.
  2. Gadsby R, Barnie-Adshead AM, Jagger C. A prospective study of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Br J Gen Pract.1993;43:245-248.
  3. Gadsby R, Barnie-Adshead AM. Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: Clinical information about nausea and vomiting of pregnancy its relation to various aspects of women's personal and obstetric histories and other significant factors related to nausea and vomiting of pregnancy or hyperemesis gravidarum. [literature review].
    www.pregnancysicknesssupport.org.uk/documents/NVP-lit-review.pdf. Accessed December 6, 2012.

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