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Morning sickness

morning; sickness; nausea; nauseated; vomit; vomiting; feeling; sick; ginger; acupressure; hyperemesis; gravida; gravidum;


Nausea and vomiting (morning sickness) is a common problem, especially during the first 3 months of pregnancy.

  • 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.

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.

Managing morning sickness

In most cases no medical treatment is needed, but there are some things you could try that may make a difference.

  • Sip dry ginger ale or flat lemonade slowly and in small amounts to help settle your stomach.
  • As you begin to feel better, try sips of more nutritious drinks like cold diluted fruit juices, nectars or vegetable juices. Or you could try soup.
  • If you tend to feel unwell or vomit first thing in the morning, keep some dry biscuits, dried fruit or sports drink next to your bed and eat/drink something before you get up.
  • Have a light breakfast once you begin feeling better (e.g. cereal and low fat milk or toast and honey).
  • Eat small amounts, often (every 1–2 hours) – don’t let your stomach get too full or too empty.
  • Eat foods which are easy to digest and provide energy, such as plain biscuits, toast/bread with a spread, jelly, dry cereal or stewed fruit.
  • Eat and drink slowly.
  • Try not to lie down straight after eating or drinking.
  • Sometimes it helps to have your drinks between meals rather than with meals.
  • Cold foods and drinks may be better than hot – hot foods often have a stronger smell. Try sandwiches, cereals, fruit and salad.
  • Low fat foods may be better than full fat. Try low fat yoghurt, cheese, icecream, milkshakes or custard.
  • Try a supper snack such as a cheese sandwich, fruit and yoghurt, milk and Milo™ or Actavite™ at the time of the day when you are feeling better.
  • 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.

Get plenty of rest - take a nap during the day. Avoid warm places - they can increase the feeling of sickness.

If your morning sickness is worrying you, talk to your doctor or midwife.

  • There are many drugs available in Australia to treat severe morning sickness that are believed to be safe to use in pregnancy with varying degrees of success. These drugs have not been known to cause birth defects or have other harmful effects for unborn babies.

Or in South Australia you can contact the Medicines and Drug Information Centre of the Pharmacy Department at the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide.

  • A pharmacist can advise you if a particular medicine is safe while you are pregnant.
  • You can contact the service Monday to Friday during normal business hours on 08 8161 7222.

In Australia you could ring the National Medicines Line 1300 633 424 (1300 MEDICINE)  9am - 5 pm Monday to Friday (Eastern Standard Time). For more information visit www.nps.org.au

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.

For more information about management of severe vomiting in pregnancy, have a look at the South Australian Perinatal Practice Guideline Hyperemesis in pregnancy


Nutrition Department, Women's and Children's Hospital, South Australia

Pregnancy, Birth and Baby 

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see your doctor or midwife.


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