Pregnancy Information Center

Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy: Your Symptoms Manual


What Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy Are

Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, also known as NVP or "morning sickness," is queasiness that can actually occur at any time of the day, and is sometimes severe enough to make you throw up. NVP generally occurs when you haven't eaten for a long period of time, such as after sleeping, which is why it's commonly known as morning sickness.

Nausea is most common in the first trimester but usually lessens later on, tapering off by the second trimester.

Why Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy Happen

The exact cause of morning sickness is unknown, although some references point to low blood sugar. Pregnancy hormones may also irritate the stomach.

How to Relieve Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy

Here's a collection of suggested remedies. Different morning sickness remedies work for different people. You may have to try a few in order to get some relief. Be sure to discuss your morning sickness, and remedies for it, with your healthcare provider.

General Advice:

  • Avoid warm places, as heat can increase feelings of nausea.

  • Take naps during the day (but not right after eating). Fatigue plays a big part in morning sickness.

  • Get enough sleep at night.

  • Get out of bed slowly in the morning.

Avoiding Smells:

  • Open windows or turn on exhaust fans when cooking and after meals.

  • Cooking in the microwave usually produces fewer odors.

  • Silly as it sounds, scent a handkerchief with a few drops of an essential oil that doesn't cause nausea for you (lemon, for example) and carry it with you to breathe through if you can't get away from a smell that's bothering you.

  • Avoid cigarette smoke and other strong smells.

Eating Right:

  • Food will help you avoid nausea, so eat often. Try smaller meals every 2 hours or so, instead of 3 large ones, to keep your stomach from being empty.

  • Put a glass of water and a plain cookie by your bed at night. Eat this 15 minutes before you get out of bed in the morning.

  • Avoid greasy, fried or spicy foods as they often cause nausea or heartburn. Both eating and smelling these foods can increase nausea.

  • Avoid coffee.

  • Eat what you want when you want it. Your cravings will not lead you the wrong way. Of course, don't eat anything that isn't edible or allowed during pregnancy (see Food Cravings During Pregnancy: Your Symptoms Manual for more info).

  • Have frequent protein snacks. Examples: meats and seafood, nuts, eggs and beans.

  • Eating something salty before a meal can help you "make it through" a meal.

  • Eat high-carbohydrate foods. Try whole-wheat bread, potatoes, rice and cereals.

  • Do not drink fluids with your meals.

  • Don't lie down after meals.

  • Non-caffeinated teas like peppermint and ginger can help calm nausea.

  • Drink small amounts of fluids regularly throughout the day to avoid dehydration. Sip on water, weak tea, or clear soft drinks.

  • Eat ice chips.

  • Don't skip meals, if you can help it.

  • Cold foods may have less nausea-inducing smells associated with them.

  • If you can keep them down, drink fruit juice or skim milk for extra fluids.

Taking Supplements:

  • Try taking your prenatals later in the day.

  • Talk to your provider about taking 50 milligrams of Vitamin B6 daily. It's been shown to help with pregnancy-induced nausea.

  • Talk to your provider about taking ginger capsules. Ginger has long been associated with alleviating nausea. (Remember drinking ginger ale when you felt sick when you were little?)

  • Ask your provider if you can stop taking your prenatals temporarily to see if the nausea diminishes. You may still need to take a folic acid supplement to help protect your baby.

  • Talk to your provider about not taking iron supplements unless you are anemic. Iron supplements can be hard for your stomach to handle.


What the Risks to Your Baby Are from Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy 

Morning sickness in its severe form is called hyperemesis gravidarum. Hyperemesis gravidarum is extreme, persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy that may lead to dehydration and low blood pressure. This may be harmful to your baby.

If you vomit more than 3 times a day for 3 days, tell your provider. In severe cases, they may want you to go to the hospital for treatment to replace the fluids that you've lost.

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