Morning sickness affects 50 to 90 percent of pregnant women, most often in the first trimester. It is usually not harmful to your baby. Throwing up may relieve your immediate symptoms, but nausea typically returns.
Morning sickness affects 50 to 90 percent of pregnant women, most often in the first trimester. It is usually not harmful to your baby. Throwing up may relieve your immediate symptoms, but nausea typically returns.

Nausea and vomiting are often the earliest symptoms of pregnancy. Morning sickness affects 50 to 90 percent of women during the first half of pregnancy and typically fades in the second trimester. Fortunately, it's usually not harmful to your baby.

Women who have some nausea and vomiting during pregnancy have fewer miscarriages and stillbirths than women who don't.

Tips for dealing with morning sickness

For some women morning sickness is a mild inconvenience. For others, it can seriously affect their quality of life and ability to function. Throwing up may help with immediate discomfort and bloating, but nausea will usually return. Here are some tips to help you battle morning sickness until it passes.

Adjust Your Eating Habits

You may need to make some changes to your normal diet while dealing with morning sickness. It's only a temporary adjustment. You can get back to a healthy, well-balanced diet as soon as nausea and vomiting pass. These suggestions may help:

  • Keep crackers at your bedside and eat a few before you get up in the morning
  • Eat small meals throughout the day to avoid having too much in your stomach at once.
  • Don't drink and eat at the same time, but drink often throughout the day
  • Sit upright after eating
  • Try drinking tea or cold, bubbly drinks
  • Freeze fluids if you're having trouble keeping them down, and use cold numbing the back of your mouth to help with nausea
  • Eat foods that are easy to digest and low in fat
  • Try ginger products like teas, cookies, or supplements
  • Try the BRATT diet — including bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, and tea — which is easy to keep down while providing the calories and electrolytes you need
  • Because iron in your prenatal vitamin may make things worse, talk to your doctor about a multivitamin with folic acid

Avoid Triggers

During pregnancy your sense of smell is often more acute. Avoid specific odors, tastes, and activities that cause nausea. Some common triggers include:

  • Spicy, sugary, or high-fat foods
  • Stuffy rooms
  • Noise
  • Hot and humid weather
  • Strong smells such as perfume, food, chemicals, or smoke
  • Visual motion such as flickering lights
  • Physical motion such as traveling in a car
  • Tiredness
  • Excessive exercise
  • Excessive salivation

Tips for dealing with morning sickness (continued)

Stay Hydrated

Avoiding dehydration after vomiting is especially important. Try to drink at least eight cups of liquid daily. If plain water isn't appealing to you, try: 

  • Diluted juice
  • Popsicles
  • Weak tea
  • Rehydration drinks — like Pedialyte
  • Broth
  • Ice chips
  • Gelatin
  • Clear soda without fizz

Lifestyle Changes

Rest. Remember your body is going through a tremendous amount of change. It's natural to feel exhausted and depleted. You need extra rest, so take a nap if you have the chance. Plan on getting at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Being tired makes morning sickness worse. 

Avoid stress. Stress will also worsen morning sickness. Avoid people and events that cause  anxiety. Lower your expectations of yourself for a few weeks. Focus on your health and your baby's health, and don't worry if some chores go undone. Ask your family and friends for help if you need it.  

Practice self-care. Spend some time doing the things that bring you joy and promote calmness. Schedule a massage or a manicure. Make time to be with people who make you happy. Read an uplifting book or listen to calming music.

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Can morning sickness be treated?

Some treatments may help with morning sickness. Talk with your doctor before taking any new over-the-counter medicine, including vitamins, supplements, or herbs. Some options to discuss with your doctor include: 

When to call your doctor

Most cases of morning sickness are mild and pass without causing any problems. But, few women develop excessive vomiting during pregnancy — or called hyperemesis gravidarum. This condition can cause weight loss, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance. Call your doctor immediately if you:

  • Have nausea that prevents you from eating and drinking throughout the day
  • Vomit three to four times daily or not being able to keep anything down
  • Experience fainting or dizziness
  • Have a brown or bloody vomit
  • Have a fast heart rate
  • Pee less than usual
  • Have weight loss
  • Have an unpleasant, fruity mouth or body odor
  • Experience confusion
  • Experience extreme tiredness
  • Get frequent headaches

Hyperemesis gravidarum usually occurs during a  first pregnancy, and symptoms often get better over time. Your doctor may treat you with a short period of not eating, intravenous — or IV — fluids, and nutritional supplements.

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Medically Reviewed on 8/27/2021
References
Fraser Health: "Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy."

KidsHealth: "Severe Morning Sickness (Hyperemesis Gravidarum)."

Sanford Health: "How to enjoy, not just endure, times of morning sickness."

Stanford Children's Health: "Morning Sickness."

UpToDate: "Patient education: Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (Beyond the Basics)."