Morning sickness

How can I eat healthily if I’m suffering with morning sickness?

Feeling nauseous and experiencing vomiting – typically referred to as morning sickness, though the symptoms can occur at any time of day – is very common for many women at the beginning of their pregnancy.

These symptoms should subside around weeks 16-20 and aren’t usually harmful to mum or baby. However, in some rare cases (around one per cent) severe nausea and vomiting can develop and it can be difficult to keep any food or drink down. This is known as hyperemesis gravidarum, a serious condition which requires medical attention.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet can be more difficult when you feel nauseous. However, there are some handy tips you can consider to support your food and drink intake:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, aiming to sip them throughout the day instead of drinking large amounts in one go.
  • Avoid skipping meals and instead aim to eat little and often throughout the day.
  • Choose meals higher in carbohydrate and lower in fat, such as pasta-, potato- or rice-based dishes
  • Plain, savoury snacks such as toast, crackers or crispbreads may be easier to eat than spicy or sweet foods.
  • Taking your time in the morning and having a small snack such as a piece of toast before you get up may be helpful if you feel sick when you wake up.
  • If the smell of food is making you nauseous, choose cold foods rather than hot to try to reduce this.
  • Avoid foods and drinks that make you feel nauseous and focus on the things you can eat.
  • Ask people close to you for support if possible – for instance, if cooking is difficult due to food smells ask your partner to prepare some food for you (or prepare plainer, non-greasy food for yourself such as a baked potato or simple pasta dish).
  • Soups containing vegetables or beans can be a good meal option as they are comforting as well as helping to provide plenty of nutrients and extra fluid to keep hydrated.
  • Ginger is a safe, effective way of reducing nausea during pregnancy. Ginger teas or fresh ginger may help to reduce symptoms.
  • Staying active may not sound too appealing when you’re not feeling well, but doing gentle exercise such as yoga or stretching may help some women deal with morning sickness symptoms.
  • Ensure you get plenty of rest.

If you’re struggling to manage your symptoms, please do discuss this with your midwife or doctor.

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