Morning sickness - information and support

It's very common to feel sick during the first few months of pregnancy, and sometimes for a bit longer.

Pregnancy sickness – or morning sickness – is thought to be a reaction to high levels of pregnancy hormones, in particular human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). These hormones rise quickly 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.

Not every pregnant woman will get morning sickness. Pregnancy symptoms vary a lot, so don’t worry if you don’t have one of them.

What can I do to cope with morning sickness?

These ideas have not been scientifically proven to workbut they have helped some women, so you might like to try them out:

  • Eat little and often. Try eating six small meals a day instead of three big meals.
  • Rest. When you are tired the sickness can get worse.
  • Avoid foods with lots of sugar or saturated fats – such as sweets, chocolate and red meat.
  • Carbohydrates – things like bread, rice, potatoes and pasta – can be easier to eat when you’re feeling nauseous.
  • If possible, keep away from ‘triggers’ – food or smells that make you feel sick.
  • Have a small snack before getting up in the morning – something like dry toast or crackers.
  • Try foods or drinks that have ginger in them. You could try ginger biscuits, crystallised ginger or ginger herbal tea.
  • Try wearing acupressure bands throughout the day. You can buy elastic acupressure wristbands from most pharmacies. These bands have a plastic button that presses on the acupressure point on the wrist and it may help relieve the nausea.

What should I do if I get morning sickness at work?

This can be challenging, especially if you’re not ready to tell your colleagues about your pregnancy.

If you feel very ill it’s probably a good idea to tell your manager at work at work that you’re pregnant, but you don’t have to.

If you do decide to 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 smells from the kitchen or canteen are triggering 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.

What is hyperemesis gravidarum?

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a condition which causes excessive sickness and vomiting in pregnancy.

Symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum

Other than severe nausea and sickness, you may also notice:

  • dark concentrated urine
  • weeing less often
  • feeling faint or dizzy
  • losing weight
  • blood in your vomit
  • a high temperature
  • low blood pressure.

If you are vomiting several times a day or are not able to eat and drink at all without being sick, you may be dehydrated, which is why you feel so bad.

Treating hyperemesis gravidarum

There are several medicines that are safe to use in pregnancy, including anti-sickness drugs (anti-emetics) or steroids. If you’re too sick to keep anything down, they can be given by injection.

You may also be prescribed a vitamin B supplement, which can help as well.

Hyperemesis can also affect how you feel emotionally and you may need some support with this.

If your sickness is really severe and you’re struggling to control it, you may need to go into hospital for treatment. This will usually be for a few days so the doctors can assess the condition and work out the best way to manage it for you and your baby.

Support for hyperemesis gravidarum (HG)

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Sources

  1. Macdonald S, Magill-Cuerden J (2012), Mayes’ Midwifery, 14th edition, London, Ballière Tindall
  2. 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.
  3. NHS Choices, 'Nausea and morning sickness' http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/morning-sickness-nausea.aspx [accessed 29/03/2018]
  4.  HSE, ‘New and Expectant Mothers: The law’, London, HSE: http://www.hse.gov.uk/mothers/law.htm [accessed 29/03/2018]
  5. Gov.uk, ‘Pregnant employees’ rights’: https://www.gov.uk/working-when-pregnant-your-rights [accessed 29/03/2018]
  6. NHS Choices, ‘Severe vomiting in pregnancy’http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/Severe-vomiting-in-pregnancy-hyperemesis-gravidarum.aspx [accessed 29/03/2018]
  7. RCOG (2016), ‘The Management of Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy and Hyperemesis Gravidarum’https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/green-top-guidelines/gtg69-hyperemesis.pdf [accessed 29/03/2018]
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Last reviewed on April 10th, 2018. Next review date April 10th, 2021.

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Comments

  • By Susan (not verified) on 1 Jun 2018 - 13:21

    Hi I am 7 weeks and up until now only thing I've had is tiredness however this week I've started to feel sick although havnt actually been sick and have diarrhea is this common?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Jun 2018 - 16:08

    Hi Susan,
    It is possible that you may have a stomach bug as you are having diarrhoea too, this is not normally a pregnancy symptom. We would advise you to keep hydrated and snack on foods when you can. If it goes on longer than a few days or you are struggling to keep down water then do see your GP.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • 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

    Hi
    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

    Hi there
    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.

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