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.
Is there a cure for morning sickness?
No, there is no surefire way of stopping morning sickness. But there are some things that may give you some relief. These ideas have not been scientifically proven to work but 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)