Nausea and vomiting (morning sickness) is a common problem, especially during the first three months of pregnancy.
The cause is not fully known but it may be related to pregnancy hormones. Morning sickness is normal, and there is no risk to a baby unless it is very severe.
It is important that both you and your partner understand that during pregnancy you may not enjoy stimuli (visual, taste, smell, touch and sexual experiences) that you used to. These changes may place a strain on your relationship.
- Up to 80% of pregnant women have some symptoms.
- Some may feel sick without vomiting.
- Even though it is called morning sickness, you may feel sick and vomit at any time of the day or night.
- How severe the morning sickness is, and how long into the pregnancy it lasts, varies a great deal from one woman to another. It also can vary from one pregnancy to the next you could have one pregnancy affected by morning sickness but little nausea the next time.
- It usually improves greatly by the end of the first three months, if not sooner, but for some women it lasts longer sometimes until their baby is born.
- For some women it can be severe causing them to lose weight and become dehydrated.
Managing morning sickness
In most cases no medical treatment is needed, but there are some things you could try that may make a difference.
- Try eating some cracker biscuits and sipping a cup of weak tea or a glass of water before you get out of bed in the morning. Many women find that it helps to keep a supply of cracker biscuits and a glass of water by their bed.
- To help relieve the sick feelings during the day, try eating smaller meals more often (rather than three large meals a day), and avoid fatty foods and coffee.
- Eat when you feel like eating rather than waiting for meal times.
- Try not to skip meals or go for long periods of time without eating.
- If possible, ask someone else to prepare meals.
- Have a range of foods on hand (for example, salty, sweet, crunchy) as your taste may change during the day.
- Remember to drink plenty of water - six to eight glasses a day is ideal. Sucking crushed ice may also be helpful. Small drinks often may be better than large drinks.
- If some of the time you cannot manage to drink water you may find dry ginger ale or flat lemonade better. Ginger tea may also be helpful.
- If you are vomiting a lot, you will need to take extra care to make sure you are drinking enough water.
- You may like to talk with your pharmacist about drinking an oral rehydration solution. These solutions replace the important electrolytes, as well as fluid, that your body loses when you are vomiting a lot.
- Some women find that the acupressure wristbands worn to prevent travel sickness (available from pharmacies) help to ease their nausea.
- Some women find chewing ginger pieces or mints helpful.
- You could also try ginger tablets or vitamin B6. Talk to a pharmacist about how much to take.
- If your morning sickness is worrying you, talk to your doctor or midwife. There are prescription medicines that can be used to control severe morning sickness. These drugs have not been known to cause birth defects or have other harmful effects for unborn babies.
Severe nausea and vomiting
Less than 1% of pregnant women can become very ill, lose weight and become dehydrated. This is called Hyperemesis gravidarum. They may need hospital admission, fluid via a drip (intravenous fluid) and medication.
Not sure what to do next?
If you are still concerned about your morning sickness, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).
Last reviewed: October 2016