Morning Sickness – Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy

Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy commonly occur between 5 and 18 weeks of pregnancy. Between 50 and 90 percent of women have some degree of nausea, with or without vomiting. The severity of these symptoms can vary.
“Morning sickness” is the term often used to describe mild nausea and vomiting that many women have during pregnancy. Symptoms can be mild or severe. Even though it is called “morning” sickness, symptoms can happen any time of day. In fact, most women who have the condition feel sick all day long. Morning sickness usually gets better after the first few months of pregnancy.

Do all pregnant women get morning sickness – nausea and vomiting?

No. But nausea and vomiting of pregnancy is a very common condition. As many as 9 out of 10 pregnant women feel nauseous early in pregnancy. A smaller number actually throw up.

When does nausea and vomiting in pregnancy start?

That depends on the woman and the pregnancy. Symptoms usually start during the first 2 months of pregnancy. They are often worst around the second and third months. Most women feel better by 4 or 5 months, or around the middle of pregnancy. But some women feel bad for much longer.

What causes morning sickness – nausea and vomiting?

Doctors aren’t sure why pregnancy sometimes causes nausea and vomiting, or why some women have more nausea and vomiting than others. Several theories have been proposed, although none have been definitively proven. Increased hormone levels, slowed movement of the stomach contents, and psychological factors are among the more common theories. Some women are more likely to develop nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, including women who:

  • Developed these symptoms in a previous pregnancy.
  • Experience nausea and vomiting while taking estrogen (for example, in birth control pills) or have menstrual migraines.
  • Experience motion sickness.

Should I see a doctor?

See your doctor right away if you:

  • Throw up every day or throw up over and over during the day. This is even more of a concern if there is blood in your vomit.
  • Are losing weight
  • Have pain or cramps in your belly
  • Think you have lost too many fluids. This is called dehydration. Signs include not urinating very much, having dark yellow urine, or feeling dizzy when you stand up.

If you can’t keep anything down, you might need to be given fluids through a tube that is put into one of your veins, called an “IV.” Plus, you might need to get a medicine to prevent nausea and vomiting.

Is there anything I can do on my own to feel better?

Yes. If your symptoms aren’t too serious, you can try:

  • Eating as soon as you feel hungry, or even before you feel hungry.
  • Snacking often and eating small meals. The best foods to eat have lots of protein or carbohydrates, but not a lot of fat. Good choices are crackers, bread, and low-fat yogurt. You should also avoid spicy foods.
  • Drinking cold, clear beverages that are either fizzy or sour. Good choices are lemonade and ginger ale.
  • Eating ginger flavored lollipops.
  • Smelling fresh lemon, mint, or orange.
  • Brushing your teeth right after you eat.
  • Not lying down right after you eat.
  • Taking your vitamins at bedtime with a snack, not in the morning.
  • Avoiding things that make you feel nauseous. That might include stuffy rooms, strong smells, hot places, loud noises, or not sleeping enough.
  • If you take a prenatal vitamin with iron and this worsens your symptoms, try taking them at bedtime. You may stop the vitamins temporarily, if symptoms persist. If you stop taking your prenatal vitamin, take a supplement that contains at least 400 micrograms of folic acid until you are at least 14 weeks pregnant to reduce the risk of birth defects.

Are there medicines I can take?

Yes. There are medicines that can help with nausea and vomiting. Some are safe to take while pregnant. Talk with your doctor before taking anything. He or she might suggest:

  • Vitamin B6 supplements (10 to 25 mg three times per day) can reduce symptoms of mild to moderate nausea, but do not usually help with vomiting.
  • Doxylamine is a medication that can reduce vomiting, and may be combined with vitamin B6.
  • Antihistamines and other anti-nausea medications are safe and effective treatments for pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting. The following medications may be recommended:
    • Diphenhydramine (25 to 50 mg) orally every four to six hours, as needed, but this drug causes drowsiness, and make you feel sleepy.
    • Meclizine 25 mg orally every four to six hours, as needed, but this drug causes drowsiness.

There are also bands that you can wear on your wrists called “acupressure” bands. These bands are supposed to reduce morning or motion sickness. Some women feel better if they wear them.

Can morning sickness – nausea and vomiting be prevented?

There is no perfect way to completely prevent morning sickness – nausea and vomiting, however its symptoms can be controlled. Doctors urge all women who might get pregnant and who are pregnant to take vitamins. The vitamin should contain 400 micrograms of folic acid. Taking vitamins before pregnancy and in early pregnancy might decrease nausea and vomiting.

Will morning sickness – nausea and vomiting hurt my baby?

Your baby will probably be fine, having nausea and vomiting of pregnancy usually does not harm your baby’s health. It can become more of a problem only if you cannot keep down any food or fluids and begin to lose weight. When this happens, it sometimes can affect the baby’s weight at birth.


Dr Sobia Mohyuddin

MCPS, FCPS, MRCOG, Consultant Obstetrics & Gynaecology

Doctor Sobia Mohyuddin is a highly skilled and experienced Obstetrician and Gynecologist, with 25 years of training and experience in renowned, large institutions. She holds the position of Associate Professor and Fellow at the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan. She is also a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (UK).