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How to Cope with Morning Sickness

Written by Amina Hatia RM
Medically reviewed by Marley Hall BA RM Diphe
May 20, 2021

We’ve all heard about morning sickness, it’s one of the common assumptions about pregnancy and the question most pregnant women get asked about when they share their pregnancy news.
However, whilst it is very common to feel sick during the first few months of pregnancy, it can have a real impact on your physical and emotional well-being if you aren’t well supported and advised on how to try and manage it.
What is morning sickness?
Morning sickness – or – Pregnancy sickness, which is a more accurate description is a reaction to high levels of pregnancy hormones, in particular human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). These hormones rise quickly during the first few weeks of pregnancy.
The nausea and sickness are often at worst when you first wake up, which is why it is called morning sickness, but it can happen at any time of day. Pregnancy sickness may be worse if you’re stressed, overly tired or annoyingly when you are off food if you get too hungry. Certain foods may also be triggers.
Not every pregnant woman will get morning sickness. Pregnancy symptoms vary a lot, so don’t worry if you don’t have one of them.
When does morning sickness start?
Morning sickness symptoms typically start between weeks 6 and 9 of pregnancy.
Morning sickness can start quite suddenly, often you are sailing along in early pregnancy adventure with just a little soreness in your breasts or feeling very tired but otherwise fine. Until you wake up one day and are hit with an overwhelming feeling of queasiness and wanting to throw up!
The first 12 weeks are typically when symptoms are at their worst. After that you should slowly start to feel better. By around 16-20 weeks, you will probably find that the sickness has completely gone away.
That said, a few will continue to experience symptoms into the second trimester. And for a very few, you may suffer from some morning sickness throughout your pregnancies.
What are morning sickness symptoms?
As with all pregnancy symptoms, this will vary from person to person, and possibly change on a daily/weekly basis too!
Typical symptoms are:
• Feeling nauseous or a general queasy feeling
• Queasiness that often comes in the morning as you get out of bed but be warned it can surface at any time of the day or night too
• Finding that you have a strange taste in your mouth – lots of women describe it as a kind of metallic taste that makes food taste different
• Also finding that you are very sensitive to smells – certain foods, smells of food cooking, even perfumes can make you suddenly feel nauseous or cause vomiting
• A seasick feeling that’s often either accompanied or immediately followed by hunger pangs
• Getting very hungry, but then feeling full really quickly too once you start eating
• Feeling nauseous after eating is also common
Is there a cure for morning sickness?
Sadly there is no guaranteed way of stopping morning sickness, which can be really disheartening if you are really struggling. However, there are some things that may give you some relief. These ideas have not been scientifically proven to work but they have helped some, so you might like to try them out:
• Eat little and often. Try eating six small meals a day instead of three big meals.
• Rest. When you are tired the sickness can get worse.
• Avoid foods with lots of sugar or saturated fats – such as sweets, chocolate and red meat.
• Carbohydrates – things like bread, rice, potatoes and pasta – can be easier to eat when you’re feeling nauseous.
• If possible, keep away from ‘triggers’ – food or smells that make you feel sick.
• Have a small snack before getting up in the morning – something like dry toast or crackers.
• Try foods or drinks that have ginger in them. You could try ginger biscuits, crystallised ginger or ginger herbal tea.
• Try wearing acupressure bands throughout the day. You can buy elastic acupressure wristbands from most pharmacies. These bands have a plastic button that presses on the acupressure point on the wrist and it may help relieve the nausea.
What if my morning sickness is really bad?
Morning sickness itself doesn’t harm your baby. However, you should always see your GP or midwife if you can’t keep foods or liquids down.
Your doctor will want to rule out a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, or serious morning sickness that may require medical attention to protect you and your baby.
What is hyperemesis gravidarum?
Hyperemesis gravidarum is a condition which causes excessive sickness and vomiting in pregnancy.
Symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum include:
• Severe nausea and sickness
• dark concentrated urine
• passing less urine
• feeling faint or dizzy
• losing weight
• blood in your vomit
• a high temperature
• low blood pressure.
If you are vomiting several times a day or are not able to eat and drink at all without being sick, you may be dehydrated, which is why you feel so bad.
I have hyperemesis gravidarum – what help can I get?
There are several medicines that are safe to use in pregnancy, including anti-sickness drugs (anti-emetics) or steroids. If you’re too sick to keep anything down, they can be given by injection.
You may also be prescribed a vitamin B supplement, which can help as well.
Hyperemesis can also affect how you feel emotionally and you may need some support with this.
If your sickness is really severe and you’re struggling to control it, you may need to go into hospital for treatment. This will usually be for a few days so the doctors can assess the condition and work out the best way to manage it for you and your baby.
Where can I get more support?
Always seek advice from your midwife or doctor, they can advise you and support you with getting the right treatment.
Don’t become disillusioned if one treatment option doesn’t work – sometimes it can be case of finding the right combination of options that work for you or trying different options.
You can also contact the following organisations for further advice and support:
Support for hyperemesis gravidarum (HG)
• Pregnancy Sickness Support is a charity who have tips to help women cope with morning sickness and HG.
• Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) Support by HER Foundation have a private Facebook group you can join.
• Read about Spewing Mummy’s experience of HG and what helped her.