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Pregnancy morning sickness

What is morning sickness?

Although it's often called 'morning sickness', pregnant women may feel nauseous at any time of the day.

The condition is also referred to as nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, or NVP.

It usually begins in the first trimester, typically between the 4th and 7th week. Hormonal changes are thought to be a main cause.

The condition usually settles by 12 to 14 weeks, although for some women it can last longer.

Some women develop a more extreme form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum, or HG. This is a serious medical condition requiring specialist treatment and may require admission to hospital.

Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy

An upset stomach is one of the most common complaints during pregnancy.

Vomiting affects around half of all pregnant women.

More than 80% of women experience nausea in the first 12 weeks.

What is the effect of morning sickness?

Morning sickness can have a serious effect on daily life and activities.

Although support from family and friends can help, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) recognises that symptoms can sometimes be so severe that women may become depressed and need extra support, such as counselling.

It recommends that a pregnant woman who persistently 'feels down' should speak to their healthcare professional.

There is no evidence that nausea and vomiting has a harmful effect on your baby. In fact, experts say you have a slightly lower risk of miscarriage than women who do not experience nausea and vomiting.

Tips for managing morning sickness

  • If nausea is a problem in the morning, eat dry foods like cereal, toast or crackers before getting out of bed. Or, try eating a high-protein snack such as lean meat or cheese before going to bed as protein takes longer to digest.
  • Eat small meals or snacks every 2 to 3 hours rather than three large meals. Eat slowly and chew your food completely.
  • Sip on fluids throughout the day. Avoid large amounts of fluids at one time. Try cool, clear fruit juices, such as apple or cranberry juice.
  • Avoid spicy, fried, or greasy foods.
  • If you are bothered by strong smells, eat foods cold or at room temperature and avoid odours that bother you.
  • Try to take your mind off the sickness, as focusing on it too much can make it worse.
  • Wear comfortable clothes to avoid the waist feeling tight.
  • Some women find eating or drinking ginger products helps. However, these may sometimes irritate your stomach.
  • Complementary therapies such as acupressure or acupuncture may also be helpful.

What if my symptoms persist?

If your symptoms do not settle or if they prevent you doing your day-to-day activities, make an appointment to see your GP, who may prescribe anti-sickness medication that is safe to take in pregnancy.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on June 24, 2016

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