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Morning sickness (nausea and vomiting)

Causes and symptoms

Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are often called morning sickness. This is caused by hormonal changes in your body. Feeling sick or vomiting can happen at any time of the day or night, and some women find it lasts all day.

Morning sickness is very common and does not mean there is anything wrong with your pregnancy.

Vomiting during your pregnancy is unpleasant and can be exhausting, but it usually clears up by 16 to 20 weeks.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for morning sickness. But there are some things you can do to help with the symptoms. If your morning sickness continues to cause you problems, your GP, midwife or obstetrician might recommend some medication. You may have to go to hospital if your sickness is severe.

Severe morning sickness

You're more likely to have severe morning sickness if you:

  • have a family history of bad morning sickness
  • had severe morning sickness during a previous pregnancy
  • are expecting twins, triplets or more
  • suffer from migraines
  • get bad motion sickness
  • used to get sick if you took 'the pill' (contraception containing oestrogen)
  • are having a molar pregnancy - this is when some of the cells that form the placenta or afterbirth grow abnormally (this is rare)

Symptoms of morning sickness

  • nausea - the feeling that you need to be sick
  • being sick (vomiting)
  • losing weight
  • dehydration - if your sickness is severe

Dehydration

Some signs that you may not have enough fluids in your body include:

  • feeling faint or dizzy
  • feeling drowsy or very unwell
  • dryness in your mouth and lips
  • having dark urine (pee) or peeing less often than normal
  • your heart beating faster than usual

You could have a severe type of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum if you are dehydrated and losing weight.

Talk to your GP, obstetrician or midwife immediately if you have lost weight or have any symptoms of dehydration.

Ways to deal with morning sickness

Rest

Get plenty of rest - being tired can make you feel worse.

Get up slowly

Give yourself time to get out of bed if you feel sick in the mornings. Sit up slowly and wait a few minutes before standing. Moving very quickly can make you feel sick or dizzy.

Try eating some crackers before you get up. Keep some beside your bed.

Eat small amounts often

Eat something small every 1 to 2 hours. Large amounts of food are more likely to cause vomiting.

Try bland food like bread, plain pasta, crackers or rice. You may prefer to eat cold foods if the smells of cooking make your nausea worse.

Drink small amounts of water

Take small sips of water often. Drinking large volumes at a time may make you vomit.

Avoid food smells

Certain food smells may make you feel sick. You may find that avoiding cooking or preparing food helps your symptoms.

Try ginger

Eating foods or drinks that contain ginger may help to reduce nausea and vomiting. Check with your pharmacist before taking a ginger supplement to make sure it's safe for pregnancy.

Try acupressure and acupuncture

Acupressure and acupuncture are safe during pregnancy and may help with nausea and vomiting. Always tell your acupuncture therapist that you're pregnant.

There is some evidence that putting pressure on a specific part of your wrist may help to relieve the symptoms of morning sickness. You can buy a special band or bracelet for this at your pharmacy or health store.

Rinse your teeth after being sick

If you vomit, rinse your mouth out with water. Your teeth will be softened by your stomach acid, so do not brush straight away. Wait about an hour.

Page last reviewed: 20/11/2018
Next review due: 20/11/2021