Your pregnancy and baby guide

Vomiting and morning sickness in pregnancy

Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, often known as morning sickness, is very common in early pregnancy.

It can affect you at any time of the day or night, and some women feel sick all day long.

Morning sickness is unpleasant, and for some women it can significantly affect their day-to-day life. But it doesn't put your baby at any increased risk, and usually clears up by weeks 16 to 20 of your pregnancy.

Some women develop a severe form of pregnancy sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum. This can be serious, and there's a chance you may not get enough fluids in your body (dehydration) or not get enough nutrients from your diet (malnourishment). You may need specialist treatment, sometimes in hospital.

Sometimes urinary tract infections (UTIs) can also cause nausea and vomiting. A UTI usually affects the bladder, but can spread to the kidneys.

Call your midwife or GP immediately if you're vomiting and:

  • have very dark-coloured urine or have not had a pee in more than 8 hours
  • are unable to keep food or fluids down for 24 hours
  • feel severely weak, dizzy or faint when standing up
  • have tummy (abdominal) pain
  • have pain or blood when you pee
  • have lost weight

These can be signs of dehydration or a urine infection.

Treatments for morning sickness

Unfortunately, there's no hard and fast treatment that will work for every woman's morning sickness. Every pregnancy will be different.

But there are some changes you can make to your diet and daily life to try to ease the symptoms.

If these don't work for you or you're having more severe symptoms, your doctor or midwife might recommend medication.

Things you can try yourself

If your morning sickness isn't too bad, your GP or midwife will initially recommend you try some lifestyle changes:

  • get plenty of rest (tiredness can make nausea worse)
  • avoid foods or smells that make you feel sick
  • eat something like dry toast or a plain biscuit before you get out of bed
  • eat small, frequent meals of plain foods that are high in carbohydrate and low in fat (such as bread, rice, crackers and pasta)
  • eat cold foods rather than hot ones if the smell of hot meals makes you feel sick
  • drink plenty of fluids, such as water (sipping them little and often may help prevent vomiting)
  • eat foods or drinks containing ginger – there's some evidence ginger may help reduce nausea and vomiting (check with your pharmacist before taking ginger supplements during pregnancy)
  • try acupressure – there's some evidence that putting pressure on your wrist, using a special band or bracelet on your forearm, may help relieve the symptoms

Find out more about vitamins and supplements in pregnancy

Anti-sickness medication

If your nausea and vomiting is severe and doesn't improve after trying the above lifestyle changes, your GP may recommend a short-term course of an anti-sickness medicine, called an antiemetic, that's safe to use in pregnancy.

Often this will be a type of antihistamine, which are usually used to treat allergies but also work as medicines to stop sickness (antiemetic).

Antiemetics will usually be given as tablets for you to swallow.

But if you can't keep these down, your doctor may suggest an injection or a type of medicine that's inserted into your bottom (suppository).

See your GP if you'd like to talk about getting anti-sickness medication.

Risk factors for morning sickness

It's thought hormonal changes in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are probably one of the causes of morning sickness.

But you may be more at risk of it if:

  • you're having twins or triplets
  • you had severe nausea and vomiting in a previous pregnancy
  • you tend to get motion sickness (for example, car sick)
  • you have a history of migraine headaches
  • morning sickness runs in the family
  • you used to feel sick when taking contraceptives containing oestrogen
  • it's your first pregnancy
  • you're obese (your BMI is 30 or more)
  • you're experiencing stress

Visit the pregnancy sickness support site for tips for you and your partner on dealing with morning sickness.

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Media last reviewed: 27/02/2017

Media review due: 17/03/2020

Page last reviewed: 05/03/2018
Next review due: 05/03/2021