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 (HG), 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.
How will my baby grow if I'm being sick all the time?
Your baby will take the nutrients they need from your body, so if you have bad morning sickness it’s only you who suffers! You only need to worry if you’re being so sick that you can’t keep any food or water/fluid down. If you can’t keep anything down you may be suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum. which is a severe form of morning sickness. Talk to your doctor if this is the case as you are at risk of dehydration.
If your morning sickness isn’t severe, it’s important to try to keep your strength up. Choose healthy snacks, such as wholegrain sandwiches and fruit instead of fatty foods such as crisps or chocolate. There’s no safe proven cure, unfortunately, but some women find that it helps if they make changes to their lifestyle, such as eating little and often instead of having big meals.
It’s important to drink enough fluids. Try to keep a glass of water near you and keep taking regular sips.
Support for hyperemesis gravidarum
Visit Pregnancy Sickness Support's website
Join the Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) Support by HER Foundation private Facebook group
Read about Spewing Mummy's experience
- 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
ℹLast reviewed on April 1st, 2015. Next review date April 1st, 2018.
By Victoria (not verified) on 1 Mar 2018 - 06:05
I found out I am pregnant recently and since I got a cold. Is that normal? Is it me or my body adjusting to the baby? This is my first and I young. (21) I have my vitamins but they only help a little bit.
By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Mar 2018 - 15:53
Congratulations on your pregnancy. Yes when you are pregnant your immune system is weaker and it is very common to have colds and feeling unwell, especially as it is the winter at the moment and this is more common anyways. You are limited in what you can take in pregnancy so try to rest, and drink plenty of water with lots of fruits and vegetables and you should feel better soon. If you have high temperature and paracetamol does not bring it down or you feel flu like symptoms then do see your midwife or GP for advice.
Best wishes, Tommy's midwives x
By Macey (not verified) on 30 Dec 2017 - 21:44
This is my first baby it was a complete surprise I didn’t notice intill a week ago I was already 7 weeks. My 1st symptoms were nausea and feeling sick almost every morning I also didn’t have a period but this was normal for me because my cycle has always been off scent I stop receiving Brith control shot called Depo this is definitely the hardest part for me and I hope it will be over soon
By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Jan 2018 - 12:03
Hi, Thank you for your comment.
Pregnancy sickness can be really debilitating for some women and they can suffer really badly. This normally settles done around 12 weeks, as you enter the second trimester, but for some it can last a bit longer. Make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids and eating well. If this continues then you can always speak to your GP or midwife and see if you can be prescribed something to help. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x
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 Cal (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.