Morning sickness

Morning sickness is a cruel misnomer: for many pregnant women the only time they don't feel nauseous is when they're asleep. 

It affects about eight out of 10 women, starting around week six, and for most it stops around 12-14 weeks - but one in 10 unlucky ones still feel sick after 20 weeks. You're more likely to get morning sickness if you're having a multiple pregnancy.

It's not known what causes morning sickness, but it's thought that those pesky hormonal changes triggered by pregnancy are probably partly responsible. 

Some women are sick, others feel nauseous without actually being sick. At a point when you may already feel tired and emotional and have a heightened sense of smell, it can be very trying - especially if most people don't even know you're pregnant yet.

It's hard to describe how morning sickness feels, but this Mumsnetter has a go: "A weird feeling of having two stomachs - one that wants to throw up and burp constantly, and the other that is constantly ravenous and thinking about food all the time."

Gross and debilitating as it is, morning sickness won't usually harm you or your baby and, in fact, if you do feel sick, research suggests you're less likely to have a miscarriage. (Every cloud and all that.)

If you can't keep anything down for days on end and you're becoming dehydrated, then you may have hyperemesis and you'll need expert help from your doctor or midwife, who'll want to monitor you a bit more closely.

What helps to relieve morning sickness?

  • Eat small amounts of food regularly
  • Try to eat before you start feeling nauseous, having a snack next to your bed for when you wake up can help
  • Nap whenever you can
  • Eat a bowl of porridge before you go to bed at night
  • Ginger (the biscuit variety, or ginger tea)
  • A diet high in zinc (seeds, wholemeal bread, small amounts of eggs, red meat etc)
  • Carry mints everywhere (helpful as a breath freshener, too, if you're sick when you're out somewhere)
  • Acupuncture or travel sickness wrist bands
  • Online food shopping, if going round the supermarket makes you want to retch
  • A little self-pity, as this mum explains: "My aunt recommended sitting on the bathroom floor wailing 'Oh please, just let me die'. I felt more comforted by her telling me that than by all those who offered more conventional advice."

What to eat that won't make you feel worse?

Mumsnetters recommend:

  • Crackers and dry toast
  • Fizzy cola bottle sweets
  • Digestive biscuits
  • Sorbet or ice lollies
  • Cold baked potatoes
  • Boiled rice
  • Crisps
  • Liquorice Allsorts
  • Oatcakes
  • Flat Coke

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Last updated: 6 days ago