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Morning sickness - What treatments work for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

It's normal to feel sick or be sick in early pregnancy. Most women's symptoms are mild and last just a few months. But, occasionally, women get severe nausea and vomit a lot (this is called hyperemesis gravidarum).

Key points about treating nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy

  • If you have mild nausea and vomiting, ginger and acupressure are two non-drug treatments that are likely to help.

  • Taking vitamin B6 supplements may also improve your symptoms, although this seems to work better for nausea than for vomiting.

  • An antihistamine drug called promethazine (brand name Phenergan) may reduce your vomiting.

  • If you have severe vomiting (hyperemesis gravidarum), your doctor may try other drugs. These include prochlorperazine (brand name Stemetil) and metoclopramide (brand name Maxolan).

  • You may be worried about using medicine when you're pregnant, but sometimes it is necessary. To learn more, see Is it safe to take drugs in pregnancy?

Which treatments work best for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy?

We've divided this section into two parts:

  • Treatments for normal nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy

  • Treatments for severe nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy (hyperemesis gravidarum)

Treatments for normal nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy

There are both natural remedies and medicines that may help you feel better if you have normal nausea and vomiting.

Key points about treating normal nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy

  • Ginger is a natural remedy that helps many women with nausea and vomiting feel better.

  • Vitamin B6 supplements may make you feel less sick, but they may not stop you vomiting.

  • Wearing an acupressure wristband on your forearm may help to reduce nausea and vomiting. But we don't know yet whether acupuncture helps.

  • Changing your eating habits may help you feel better, but we need more studies to know for sure.

  • The antihistamine drug called promethazine (brand name Phenergan) may reduce your vomiting.

  • We don't know yet whether medicines called phenothiazines work and are safe to take during pregnancy.

You may be worried about using medicine when you're pregnant. Guidelines for doctors on all the drugs mentioned here say they should be either used with caution or used only when the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby.[27] To learn more, see Is it safe to take drugs in pregnancy?

Which treatments work best? We've looked at the best research and given a rating for each treatment according to how well it works.

For more help in deciding what treatment is best for you, see How to use research to support your treatment decisions.

Treatments for normal nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy

Treatments that are likely to work
  • Ginger: This root is used to flavour foods, but it's also a natural remedy for nausea and vomiting. More...

  • Acupressure: To relieve nausea and vomiting, pressure is applied to a point on your forearm, either using fingers or a wristband. More...

  • Vitamin B6: This vitamin is found in many foods, including chicken, fish, pork, whole grains, nuts, and vegetables. To help with nausea, you might try taking a B6 supplement. More...

  • Antihistamine tablets: These drugs are normally used to treat allergies. Doctors sometimes use an antihistamine called promethazine (brand name Phenergan) to treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. More...

Treatments that need further study
  • Acupuncture: A practitioner inserts thin needles into your skin at specific points on your body. More...

  • Changing your eating habits: If certain foods trigger your nausea, changing what you eat may help. More...

  • Phenothiazines: These types of drugs are used to treat many problems. Your doctor may give you one of these drugs, called prochlorperazine (brand name Stemetil), if your nausea and vomiting is severe. More...

Last Updated: June 20, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.
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