Morning sickness – how it can affect you

An early pregnancy sign, feeling sick is a common symptom of pregnancy - but how long will it last and what can you do?

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Why does pregnancy make you feel sick?

No one is sure, but it could be due to the physical and hormonal changes your body is going through. Bouts of sickness can be triggered by tiredness, strong smells and low blood-sugar levels.

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It’s not clear why some women suffer more than others, but morning sickness can be worse for a first or multiple pregnancy.

Does it only occur in the mornings?

Many women do feel most sick when they wake up – when their blood-sugar levels are at their lowest. But the symptoms do come and go and pregnant women can get them at any time of day.

How long does morning sickness last?

For most women, the symptoms ease at 12 weeks and disappear at 14 weeks. But it can last throughout the whole pregnancy.

Rarely, in about 1% of cases, the symptoms are so severe, women can’t keep anything down, either food or fluids. This is called hyperemesis gravidarum and needs medical treatment as it can cause dehydration.

Will morning sickness harm my unborn baby?

Absolutely not. If your baby can’t find the nutrients she needs from the food you eat, she will take them from your body’s stores.

Morning sickness is not a sign that your unborn baby is unhappy. It is in fact associated with a healthy pregnancy and reduced risk of miscarriage.

What foods will help stave off morning sickness?

Avoid strong-smelling, fried or spicy foods, and eat little and often. Bread, oatcakes and bananas are all good.

Keep a few plain biscuits beside your bed to eat as soon as you wake up before you rise. Stay in bed for 20 minutes afterwards to enable your blood-sugar levels to rise.

Drink lots of water or, if water makes you gag, suck on ice cubes to avoid getting dehydrated.

Can anything else help ease morning sickness?

Some women swear by ginger – ginger tea made from freshly-grated root ginger, ginger ale or ginger biscuits.

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Sniffing a freshly halved lemon can also help, as can wearing acupressure travel sickness wristbands. Acupuncture can also help if your symptoms persist.

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