Morning sickness: symptoms and how to deal with it

It’s one of the worst parts of early pregnancy – here’s what you can do about it.

With symptoms like nausea, loss of appetite and vomiting, morning sickness can feel like a special kind of torture. What’s worse, it usually occurs in the first three months of pregnancy when you can’t openly whinge about it. We’ve got the lowdown on what you can expect and how to deal with this unfortunate side effect of pregnancy.


A woman eating her breakfast

What causes morning sickness?

Morning sickness affects 70-85 per cent of pregnant women, but the cause of it is largely unknown. A combination of factors have been thought to play a role in this phenomenon:

  • High levels of hormones, including oestrogen
  • Fluctuations in blood pressure, particularly lowered blood pressure
  • Altered metabolism of carbohydrates
  • The enormous physical and chemical changes that pregnancy triggers.

What are the symptoms?

Morning sickness varies from woman to woman, but common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and, in some cases, depression or anxiety. Some slightly more unusual side effects can include a change in your sense of taste and smell. Foods you liked before might now taste horrible, or strange smells might become strangely alluring. Who knew?!

Despite its slightly misleading name, morning sickness can affect you at any time of the day or night and varies for different people. The symptoms can also vary from one pregnancy to another, so just because you suffered from morning sickness with one pregnancy doesn’t mean you will have the same experience with the next.

Yikes – how long does this last?

Most women experience morning sickness in the 4th week of pregnancy and their symptoms subside by the 12th or 14th week. However just as every baby is different, no one pregnancy is the same. 1 in 5 women report morning sickness lasting well into their second trimester and it’s not unheard of for some to experience sickness for the entire pregnancy.

How can I manage my symptoms?

There is no cure for morning sickness, but there are some things you can try to reduce and manage the symptoms.

  • Eati some plain, dry crackers first thing in the morning and take small sips of a glass of water to relieve nausea before you get out of bed
  • Opt for smaller, more regular meals rather than eating large, heavy meals and eating when you’re hungry rather than holding out for a set meal time
  • Avoid fatty foods and coffee
  • Sip dry ginger ale, ginger tea or lemonade
  • Drinkg 6-8 glasses of water a day – sickness can cause dehydration which may make you feel worse
  • Wear loose comfortable clothes
  • Rest whenever possible
  • Try acupuncture on your wrist to alleviate sickness.

It’s hard to deal with morning sickness, especially if you’re still at work or trying to keep your pregnancy on the down low in the early stages. Make sure you take breaks when you can and keep an eye on how you feel.

If your symptoms persist or feel unmanageable be sure to see your doctor.

Can morning sickness harm my baby?

While it’s certainly not fun, in most cases morning sickness is normal and nothing to worry about.

Should I see a doctor?

If you suffer from severe morning sickness that results in weight loss or dehydration, make sure to seek prompt medical advice.

About 1% of women suffer from a severe form of morning sickness known as ‘hyperemesis gravidarum’ (HG).  This can involve vomiting numerous times a day and it can lead to weight-loss and dehydration.

If you’re suffering from severe nausea and vomiting, don’t soldier on in silence. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment. Left untreated, HG can put a real strain on your organs and even stop your baby getting the nutrients it needs, so it’s best to ask for help.

Need a little extra support?

Health Concierge

Eligible members with hospital cover can now talk to a member of our Health Concierge team for advice and guidance on how to have a healthy pregnancy, at no extra cost on 1800 789 414.#

Got a health question? 24/7 Medibank nurse phone service

Members with hospital cover can chat to experienced and qualified nurses over the phone to discuss any health questions or concerns and get professional advice on what to do next. Our nurses are available on 1800 644 325~ for round-the-clock health advice.

Medibank Mental Health Phone Support

Members with Hospital cover can talk with a mental health professional over the phone in relation to any mental health or emotional concern, 24 hours a day 7 days a week by calling 1800 644 325.~

Looking for something else?

Visit Medibank Planning, Pregnancy and Parenting for a range of tools and advice to help you at every stage of your pregnancy journey.

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Call us on 134 190 to speak to a consultant. Alternatively, chat to us 24/7 online.

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Things you should know

~ OSHC members should call the Student Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283.

# Health Concierge is available to all eligible Medibank members who hold hospital cover. Excludes Overseas Visitor Health Cover, Working Visa Health Cover and Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). Some referred services may involve out of pocket costs.

While we hope you find this information helpful, please note that it is general in nature. It is not health advice, and is not tailored to meet your individual health needs. You should always consult a trusted health professional before making decisions about your health care. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them. For these reasons we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss that may be sustained from acting on this information (subject to applicable consumer guarantees).