What is morning sickness?
Morning sickness is a feeling of nausea or actual vomiting (being sick) during pregnancy. Despite its name, morning sickness can happen at any time of the day or night.
When will I get morning sickness?
You are more likely to have morning sickness between 6 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. This is during your first trimester.
Most pregnant women have morning sickness at some point. For many women, the feelings of sickness will be over by the second trimester.
It is unusual to have morning sickness for the first time after week 10 of pregnancy. If this happens, visit your doctor. The doctor will check you for other health issues.
Is morning sickness harmful for my baby?
There is no research to show that morning sickness causes harm to your baby.
Nausea and feeling sick can impact on your food choices. Both you and your baby need a good variety of nutrients in the foods you eat.
Speak with a health professional if you think that your morning sickness is getting in the way of healthy eating.
It's also important to prevent dehydration. If you are vomiting and can't keep fluids down, see your doctor immediately.
What causes morning sickness?
The exact cause of morning sickness is not known. It may have something to do with hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy.
Nausea can be caused by many things. It can happen if:
- there is an imbalance of potassium and magnesium in your diet
- you have low blood sugar
- you have low levels of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Having a balanced diet with a range of vitamins and minerals will help you stay healthy during your pregnancy. The best foods to eat are whole foods. Whole foods are those that are fresh and have not been processed.
When should I see my doctor?
Other signs you need to see a doctor are:
- very dark urine (wee)
- blood in your vomit
- extreme tiredness
- dramatic weight loss
- dehydration due to being unable to keep fluids down
CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.
How is morning sickness diagnosed?
You doctor will be able to diagnose morning sickness based on the symptoms you have.
If they suspect that you have hyperemesis gravidarum they may arrange:
- blood tests
- urine tests
- an ultrasound
How is morning sickness treated?
In some cases, a doctor may suggest things that you can do at home.
How can I feel better with morning sickness?
To help with the feelings of morning sickness, think about:
- eating a plain cracker shortly after waking up
- eat protein-rich foods (such as nuts or cheese)
- try not to skip meals
- eating smaller meals more often — include morning and afternoon snacks between main meals
- do not eat spicy or fatty foods
- try to drink 8 glasses of water a day
- drinking water before and after a meal — not with food
You may find that soda water (carbonated or fizzy water), ginger tea and peppermint tea help relieve your nausea. They can also settle an upset stomach.
Some women become more sensitive to strong food smells while pregnant. If certain smells bother you, consider asking for help preparing food.
Opening windows or using a fan when cooking can help get rid of cooking smells.
Cold foods do not small as much as hot foods. These may be a better choice for someone with morning sickness.
Nausea may feel worse when you are over-tired. Try taking a nap or a rest during the day.
Other things that may help with morning sickness are:
- deep breathing or relaxation exercises
- anti-nausea wristbands (can be bought at most chemists)
- acupuncture treatments (but only when given by a qualified practitioner trained in maternal care)
What will other treatments are there for morning sickness?
In other cases, they may refer you to another healthcare professional, such as a dietitian. A dietitian can help you create a healthy and enjoyable meal plan.
Your doctor might choose to send you to a specialist for further tests.
Your doctor may prescribe you with medicine to ease your symptoms. Some medicines can prevent vomiting. You also might be given extra vitamin and mineral tablets.
If your symptoms persist after treatment, it is a good idea to see your doctor again. There may be another approach you can try.
Can morning sickness be prevented?
Some people are more likely to have nausea during pregnancy than others. Morning sickness is hard to predict.
Women who had morning sickness in a previous pregnancy are more likely to have it again. Some women who get travel sickness or migraines can also be more likely to have morning sickness.
Complications of morning sickness
If you are vomiting whenever you eat or drink, consult a health care professional. Early treatment can protect you and your baby from health complications.
If you have severe vomiting for a long time you may need monitoring and treatment in hospital.
In hospital, an intravenous (IV) drip is put into a vein in your arm. This is used to give the salts and fluids you need. It will also prevent dehydration.
When morning sickness is very severe, it is known as hyperemesis gravidarum. This can be an awful time for a pregnant woman. It can impact your quality of life and you may need to go to hospital. Some become depressed or anxious.
Seek help from your doctor if you are having trouble coping with hyperemesis gravidarum.
Resources and support
To learn more about both nausea and vomiting in pregnancy and hyperemesis gravidarum you can visit the Hyperemesis Australia website.
You may also want to look at the resources and support provided by PANDA — Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia. PANDA specialises in supporting families during pregnancy and the first year of your child's life. You can also call PANDA on 1300 726 306 (Monday to Saturday).
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
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Last reviewed: August 2023