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How to manage morning sickness

Being pregnant can be a very exciting time in your life, but if you have morning sickness, you may not be jumping for joy. Morning sickness is very common in early pregnancy – around seven in 10 women get it.

Here we take a closer look at the condition and what you can do to ease your symptoms.

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Details

  • What is morning sickness? What is morning sickness?

    Morning sickness is when you feel sick or are sick during the early stages of your pregnancy.

    The term ‘morning sickness’ is actually a bit of a misnomer, as the sickness and vomiting can occur at any time of the day. It’s often one of the earliest signs of pregnancy, with symptoms usually beginning between four and seven weeks. However, your symptoms will gradually improve and the sickness usually eases off by about 16 weeks.

    Nobody’s quite sure exactly why some women suffer from morning sickness. Although it’s likely that the soaring levels of hormones that are associated with pregnancy are at least in part to blame.

  • Combating morning sickness Combating morning sickness

    So what can you do if you’re pregnant and feeling sick? Here are some tips that may be able to help.

    • Get enough rest. Tiredness may make your symptoms worse, so it’s important to rest up when you can and get enough sleep.
    • Support from your family and friends can help. Ask them to help you around the house or with your shopping.
    • Try to stay away from any foods or smells that set off your symptoms. Eat small, frequent meals that are high in carbohydrate (such as bread, potato, pasta or rice) and low in fat.
    • You could try eating a couple of plain biscuits about 20 minutes before you get up in the morning.
    • Drink little and often, rather than in large amounts.
    • Try not to have any cold or sweet drinks.
    • Ginger may help to ease your symptoms, so why not try some ginger tea?
    • Acupressure (a form of acupuncture) of the wrist may also help to reduce nausea and sickness. This type of acupressure can be applied through wrist bands which you can buy.

    The evidence to show if these tips work or not is limited. So, it’s important to remember that some things may work for you, while others may not. Either way, trying some of the above tips won’t do you any harm and may offer you some much needed relief.

  • What if my symptoms get worse? What if my symptoms get worse?

    If you’re finding it difficult to manage your symptoms of morning sickness, see your doctor. He or she may prescribe you medicines to take.

    Admission to hospital is a last resort and may only occur if you can’t keep fluids down and are showing signs of dehydration. If you feel this way, you may have a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum. This is a severe form of morning sickness that only affects a minority of women (around one in 200).

  • Private GP appointments

    With our GP services, we aim to give you an appointment the next day, subject to availability. Find out more today.

  • Don't worry Don't worry

    If you’re in the throes of morning sickness, it can be hard to keep positive. However, the excitement of a new baby will hopefully help to ease any unpleasant symptoms you may be suffering.

  • Resources Resources

    Further information

    Sources

    • Nausea/vomiting in pregnancy. Clinical Knowledge Summaries. cks.nice.org.uk, published June 2013
    • Antenatal care. National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), March 2008. www.nice.org.uk
    • Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. BMJ Best Practice. bestpractice.bmj.com, published 3 December 2013
    • Simon C, Everitt H, van Dorp F. Oxford handbook of general practice. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2010: 801 (printed version)
    • Ernst E, Pittler MH, Wider B, et al. Oxford Handbook of Complimentary Medicine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008:42–5 (printed version)
    • Matthews A, Dowswell T, Haas DM, et al. Interventions for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 9. doi. 10.1002/14651858.CD007575.pub2
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    Reviewed by Kuljeet Battoo, Bupa Health Information Team, February 2014.

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