Pregnancy sickness – or morning sickness – is thought to be a reaction to high levels of pregnancy hormones, in particular hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). These hormones are at their highest during the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Pregnancy sickness is often at its worst when you first wake up, which is why it is called morning sickness, but it can happen at any time of day.
For most women, the first 12 weeks are the worst. After that you should slowly start to feel better. By around 16-20 weeks, you will probably find that the sickness has completely gone away.
Morning sickness tips
These ideas have not been scientifically proved to work, and they may not work for you. But they have helped some women, and so you might like to try them out:
- Eat little and often. Try six small meals a day.
- Rest. Tiredness can make the sickness worse.
- Avoid foods with lots of sugar or saturated fats – such as sweets, chocolate and red meat.
- Carbohydrates, such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta, can be easier to eat.
- Keep away from ‘triggers’ – food or smells that make you feel sick.
- Have a small snack before getting up in the morning.
- Try foods or drinks that contain ginger in them.
- Try wearing acupressure bands throughout the day.
How can I cope with pregnancy sickness at work?
If you’re being sick a lot and feel very ill, it can be hard to cope at work. You might not feel ready to tell people you’re pregnant just yet either, which makes it more complicated.
If you feel very ill, it’s probably a good idea to tell your manager at work that you’re pregnant. Once they know, your employer has to make any changes that are needed to protect your health. If you do decide to formally tell them about your pregnancy, this is a good time to talk about any changes to your work that might help. For example, you might need easier access to a toilet. Or if kitchen or canteen food smells are setting off your sickness, maybe you could move somewhere else until you feel better.
Try not to worry too much about people knowing you are pregnant – it’s more important to look after yourself.
What if my morning sickness is really bad?
If you can’t keep any food or drink down, or you are worried at all about pregnancy sickness, see your midwife or doctor. You may have a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, which means excessive sickness and vomiting of pregnancy.
There are several medicines that are safe to use in pregnancy. If you’re too sick to keep anything down, they can be given by injection or suppository. You may also be prescribed a vitamin B supplement, which can help as well.
If you are vomiting several times a day, or not able to eat and drink at all without being sick, you may be dehydrated, which is why you feel so bad. One in 50 women with severe sickness in early pregnancy will need to go into hospital for treatment. This will usually be for just a few days.
- Macdonald S, Magill-Cuerden J (2012) Mayes’ Midwifery, 14th edition, London, Ballière Tindall
- Matthews A, Haas DM, O'Mathúna DP, Dowswell T, Doyle M. Interventions for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD007575. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007575.pub3.
- NHS Choices [accessed 10 February 2015] Nausea and morning sickness http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/morning-sickness-nausea.aspx
- HSE [accessed 10 February 2015] ‘New and Expectant Mothers: The law’, London, HSE: http://www.hse.gov.uk/mothers/law.htm
- Gov.uk [accessed 10 February 2015] ‘Pregnant employees’ rights’ https://www.gov.uk/working-when-pregnant-your-rights Macdonald S, Magill-Cuerden J (2012) Mayes’ Midwifery, 14th edition, London, Ballière Tindall, p. 748, 749;
- NHS Choices [accessed 10 February 2015] ‘Severe vomiting in pregnancy’, : http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/Severe-vomiting-in-pregnancy-hyperemesis-gravidarum.aspx
There are two vitamins that are very important in pregnancy and that you can take as a supplement: folic acid and vitamin D. If you are anaemic it may be important to take an iron supplement too.
People may tell you that pregnancy is a good time to put your feet up. If your pregnancy is uncomplicated it is actually much healthier for you and your baby to exercise while pregnant.
Although you will be putting on weight in pregnancy as your baby grows, limiting the amount of extra weight gain in pregnancy will improve your health and your baby's, both now and in the future.
We've got all the information you need about your body, your emotions and your baby, week-by-week of your pregnancy.
In many cases the symptoms in this section will not lead to a serious complication and will be treated easily. Occasionally though they are signs of a more serious complaint.
Finding out that you are pregnant, whether you have been trying for a pregnancy or not, can come as quite a surprise - or even a shock!
ℹLast reviewed on April 1st, 2015. Next review date April 1st, 2018.
By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Jun 2017 - 15:46
It can be normal for sickness to come and go. For some lucky ladies, they never once experience nausea or vomiting. For others, they experience a lot more of it. Unfortunately it's pot luck where you will fall.
Just because in a previous pregnancy you experienced one thing, doesn't mean that you will experience it the same way again. Every pregnancy is different.
If you experience any abdo pain, or bleeding/discharge from the vagina, or have any other concerns, you can get your GP to refer you to your local early pregnancy assessment unit. They will be able to perform an early scan and review you to make sure all is ok.
I really do hope that you can stop worrying too much and try to relax a little. I know it is so tough when you have lost a baby in the way that you did, and at the gestation that you did. But to be sure, i would get checked over to put your mind at ease if nothing else. Please do feel free to call us too if you need to talk anything through on our helpline! Take care of yourself
By Anonymous (not verified) on 27 Jun 2017 - 14:02
It is normal for sickness to go or be significantly less by 9 weeks? Last time I had bad nausea until at least 13 weeks and this has worried me. I just associate sickness/nausea with a good progressing pregnancy. I had a stillbirth at 29+6 weeks and anxious about this one.