Morning sickness (pregnancy sickness)

It's very common to feel sick during the first few months of pregnancy, and sometimes even longer. It can happen at any time of the day and is now usually called pregnancy sickness. We use ‘morning sickness’ here as lots of people still call it this and we want them to find this information.

On this page

What is morning sickness?

Morning sickness remedies

Medicine for morning sickness 

Morning sickness and mental health

Morning sickness and work


What is morning sickness?

Morning sickness or pregnancy sickness are the names used for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.

It is probably caused by a hormone called GDF-15. Levels of GDF-15 rise during pregnancy. Some people are more sensitive to this hormone than others.

It often at its worst when you first wake up, which is why it is sometimes called morning sickness. However, feeling sick or being sick (vomiting) can happen at any time of day.

Morning sickness is usually worse during the first 12 weeks (first trimester). It usually clears up by weeks 16 to 20 of your pregnancy, although it can go on for longer for some people. It is sometimes classed as mild, or moderate to severe. Read more about these classifications here.  

Very severe pregnancy sickness is called hyperemesis gravidarum. Read more about hyperemesis gravidarum here.

Morning sickness does not put your baby at risk.

Some people worry because they don’t feel sick during their pregnancy. They may think that their pregnancy is somehow not strong enough or that they are more likely to miscarry. This is not true. Pregnancy symptoms are different for everyone. Not everyone will feel sick or vomit.  


“During my first viable pregnancy, 1 month after a 12-week miscarriage, I experienced no sickness at all. This made me always worry I was going to miscarry again. Thankfully it did not happen, and I have a very healthy and active 18-month-old now! My second viable pregnancy was completely the opposite and I still get waves of nausea at 37 weeks.”



Morning sickness remedies

There are things you can do to manage nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. There is not a lot of research evidence to say that these stop the sickness, but people have said that they found them helpful.  You could try:

  • eating little and often – eating 6 small meals a day instead of 3 big meals
  • resting – pregnancy sickness may feel worse when you’re tired, so try to rest if you’re not feeling well
  • avoiding foods with lots of sugar or saturated fats – this includes sweets, chocolate and red meat
  • eating carbohydrates – things like bread, rice, potatoes and pasta can be easier to eat when you’re feeling nauseous
  • keeping away from sickness ‘triggers’ – you may find that eating or even smelling certain food makes you feel sick  
  • having a small snack before getting up in the morning – something like dry toast, crackers or a plain biscuit is great for lining your stomach before you begin your day
  • having foods or drinks that have ginger in them – there is some evidence that things like ginger biscuits, crystallised ginger or ginger tea can help you feel a little less queasy
  • wearing plastic acupressure bands throughout the day – these are available in most pharmacies and have a plastic button that presses on the acupressure point on the wrist, which may help reduce your nausea.


“I felt sick for most of my pregnancy, which was tough. I had some obvious triggers, like the smell of mincemeat, that were easy to avoid. But finding something to ease the nausea was a bit more trial and error. Strangely, eating helped, so I avoided big meals and ate small amounts throughout the day instead.”




Medicine for morning sickness

If your sickness is making daily life difficult it’s a good idea to speak to your GP. They can prescribe anti-sickness medications (antiemetics).

Research suggests that anti-sickness medications are more effective the sooner they are started.

You can read more about treatments on the Pregnancy Sickness Support website. Not all doctors understand pregnancy sickness well. It’s ok to ask for a second opinion. The Pregnancy Sickness Support website also has information on how to ask your doctor for the treatment you need.


Morning sickness and mental health


Coping with sickness that is more severe, or goes on for a long time, can be isolating, exhausting and emotionally draining.  

You might find it helpful to talk to your partner, family or friends about how you are feeling. You could also find support from other people who have been through it. Speak to your doctor or midwife if you are struggling with your mental health during your pregnancy.

Some anti-sickness medication suitable in pregnancy cannot be taken with some types of anti-depressants. Ask your doctor to explain more about your options if you take anti-depressants and need anti-sickness medication too.


Morning sickness and work

Sickness during work hours can be challenging, especially if you would prefer not to tell anyone about your pregnancy.  

You may decide to tell your employer about your pregnancy earlier than planned because your symptoms may be too difficult to hide or you need to take days off. Although this may not have been when you wanted to share the news, it does mean that your employer can help you.  

Once they know you are pregnant these days are recorded separately to normal sick days.  

All employers must do a risk assessment with you to see if your job has any risks to you or your baby. If there are any risks, they must make reasonable adjustments (do everything they can) to remove them. This can include changing your work hours or, for example, making sure you are close to the toilet area.

For example, you could ask about working slightly different hours to avoid times when you feel worse. Or you could ask about working from home on days when your sickness is bad.

Once your employer knows you’re pregnant, you’re protected against unfavourable treatment because of pregnancy-related discrimination. Your employer must record any pregnancy-related sickness separately so that it isn’t used against you in any disciplinary, redundancy or dismissal decisions.

Find out more about pregnancy and work.



Fejzo, M., Rocha, N., Cimino, I. et al. GDF15 linked to maternal risk of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Nature 625, 760–767 (2024).  

NHS. Vomiting and morning sickness. (Page last reviewed: 13 April 2021 Next review due: 13 April 2024) Accessed April 2024  

Regan, Lesley (2019) Your pregnancy week by week: What to expect from conception to birth, Penguin Random House, London 

 Macdonald S, Magill-Cuerden J (2023) Mayes’ Midwifery, Elsevier, London 

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. 

Caroline Maltepe, Gideon Koren, "Preemptive Treatment of Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial", Obstetrics and Gynecology International, vol. 2013, Article ID 809787, 8 pages, 2013. 

Ondansetron | Interactions | BNF | NICE Accessed March 2024 

 Gov.UK Pregnant employees’ rights. (accessed April 2024)


Review dates
Reviewed: 20 April 2024
Next review: 20 April 2027