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 while “hyperemesis gravidarum” is the term used to describe a more severe condition. Hyperemesis may cause you to vomit multiple times throughout the day, lose weight, and may require treatment in the hospital.


Morning sickness — Nausea and vomiting often develop by five to six weeks of pregnancy. The symptoms are worst around nine weeks, and typically improve by 16 to 18 weeks of pregnancy. However, symptoms continue until the third trimester in 15 to 20 percent of women and until delivery in 5 percent of women. Although mild pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting is often called “morning sickness,” you may feel sick at any time of day and many women (80 percent) feel sick throughout the day.

Hyperemesis gravidarum — Hyperemesis gravidarum is the term used to describe more severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Women with hyperemesis often vomit every day and may lose more than 5 percent of their pre-pregnancy body weight.


The cause of pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting is not clear. 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.

It is likely that nausea is related to low blood sugar levels – especially if the nausea is most commonly occurring on waking when your blood sugar levels are low after having ‘fasted’ over night. It is important to eat/snack frequently to maintain your blood sugar levels.

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
  • Have a history of gastrointestinal problems (ie, reflux, ulcers)


Many women, especially those with mild to moderate nausea and/or vomiting, do not need to see a healthcare provider for treatment of nausea and vomiting.

Women with more severe nausea and vomiting sometimes need to be evaluated by their primary care or midwife. Seek help if you have one or more of the following:

  • Signs of dehydration, including infrequent urination, dark-colored urine, or dizziness with standing
  • Vomiting repeatedly throughout the day, especially if you see blood in the vomit
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain or cramping
  • If you are unable to keep down any food or drinks for more than 12 hours
  • You lose more than 5 pounds (2.3 kg)

The treatment of pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting aims to help you feel better and allow you to eat and drink enough so that you do not lose weight.

Treatment may not totally eliminate your nausea and vomiting. You may need to try several types of treatment over a period of weeks before finding what works best for you. Fortunately, symptoms generally resolve by mid-pregnancy, even if you do not use any treatment.


Try eating before or as soon as you feel hungry to avoid an empty stomach, which may aggravate nausea. Eat snacks frequently and have small meals (eg, six small meals a day) that are high in protein or carbohydrates and low in fat. Avoid fats, dairy & rich or sugary foods. Dry foods and carbs may be more tolerable.

Drink cold, clear, and carbonated or sour fluids (eg, ginger ale, lemonade) and drink these in small amounts between meals. Smelling fresh lemon, mint, or orange or using an oil diffuser with these scents may also be useful.


One of the most important treatments for pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting is to avoid odors, tastes, and other activities that trigger nausea. Eliminating spicy foods helps some women. Other examples of triggers include:

  • Stuffy rooms
  • Odors (eg, perfume, chemicals, coffee, food, smoke)
  • Heat and humidity
  • Noise
  • Visual or physical motion (eg, flickering lights, driving)
  • Excessive exercise
  • Being tired
  • Consuming large amounts of high-sugar foods/snacks

Brushing teeth after eating may help prevent symptoms. Avoid lying down immediately after eating and avoid quickly changing positions.

If you take a prenatal vitamin with iron and this worsens your symptoms, try taking them at bedtime. If symptoms persist, stop the vitamins temporarily. 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.


  • Have something readily available to eat on waking before getting up – ginger cookie or crackers
  • Rest and relax
  • Fresh air and avoid strong cooking odors
  • Stop prenatal vitamins for a while, then try them again
  • Suck or chew ice chips or frozen fruit juice cubes
  • HEEL © homeopathic – ‘Nausea’
  • Ginger capsules, ginger tea, ginger ale, fresh ginger
  • Peppermint, chamomile or raspberry tea
  • Peppermint, Lemon, Orange essential oil – aromatherapy, topically
  • Homeopathic Ipecac 30X, Nux Vomica 6X or Cannabis 30X.
  • Vit B6 at bed time
  • Acupressure with nausea or Sea Bands
  • Acupuncture

Homeopathy for Pregnancy & Birth; Castro, Miranda. 1993

Botanical Medicine for Womens Health; Romm, Aviva. 2010

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