Nausea and vomiting in pregnant women

Nausea and vomiting should not overshadow the joy of pregnancy. Relief is within reach of mothers-to-be.

The frequency of nausea during pregnancy


Pregnancy is a time that gives rise to a number of occasions to celebrate and rejoice. However, the experience of some women is somewhat overshadowed by nausea and sometimes vomiting.

Nausea affects up to 80% of pregnant women, especially in the early stage of pregnancy. It often starts around the sixth week of pregnancy and usually disappears before the twentieth week. It goes beyond the first trimester in roughly 20% of cases. Only a minority of women (1 to 3%) will present severe symptoms.

Nausea during pregnancy often manifests itself upon awakening, but can occur at different times of the day. Some women even suffer from constant nausea.

More severe nausea and vomiting

It is normal to feel nausea, which can be accompanied by vomiting, during pregnancy.  There is no need to worry, unless these symptoms significantly affect daily functioning or quality of life or if they lead to nutrition problems or the risk of dehydration.

It is important to control symptoms if they compromise sufficient food and fluid intake. This is true for the health of both mother and baby. Weight loss is not advisable and can sometimes represent a warning signal. Dehydration is a serious health problem that must be taken seriously, especially during pregnancy. If you experience significant nausea and vomiting, you should seek medical advice promptly. On rare occasions, hospitalization may be necessary. 

Relieving nausea

Non medicinal measures

Although nausea is often part of the normal course of pregnancy, this doesn’t mean that it must be endured. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to alleviate or ease it. Nausea is sometimes associated to hunger. Eating sometimes relieves it almost instantly. For other women, nausea appears at any time and is difficult to foresee. Sometimes, they are related to certain triggers such as odours, for example.

Here are a few tips to ease mild nausea:

  • Identify and avoid the foods, odours or other elements that trigger your nausea.
  • Eat soda crackers before you get up in the morning (place them on your night table the night before).
  • Keep some at hand during the day in case your feel nauseous.
  • Eat smaller meals than usual and eat more frequently, ideally healthy snacks. For example, enjoy some crackers with peanut butter or cheese.
  • Identify the other foods that ease nausea when you eat them.
    • pretzels
    • salted chips
    • bread
    • apples
    • potatoes
    • water melon
    • rice
    • cereal
    • etc.
  • Don’t wait until you are hungry. Don’t hesitate to eat when you can, and don’t skip any meals unnecessarily.
  • Eat slowly, and chew your food well.
  • Don’t lie down immediately after having eaten. When you get up from a lying position, get up slowly.
  • Drink plenty of fluids during the day to avoid dehydration. Drink small amounts at a time, frequently.
  • Don’t drink during meals; drink half an hour before or after.
  • Smell lemon or ginger scents.
  • Avoid high-fat or very sweet foods.
  • Avoid preparing and eating fried, spicy and strong-smelling foods.
  • Choose cold meals. They often have a milder smell than hot foods.
  • Rest. Have short naps during the day. Nausea increases with fatigue.


In some cases, the intensity of nausea and vomiting requires the use of medication. Diclectin® (doxylamine/pyridoxine) is the most widely administered medication to pregnant women to ease these symptoms. They are effective and safe for mother and baby and have been used for many years.

There are also other treatment options available with or without a prescription. Regardless of the treatment you are considering, it is crucial to discuss it with a healthcare professional. A law now authorizes pharmacists to prescribe anti-nausea medication to pregnant women who meet certain criteria. The pharmacist must assess the situation during a pharmaceutical consultation. He/she can also provide information on the optimal and safe use of the medication. The pharmacist will also determine whether or not a medical visit is necessary.

Speak to your pharmacist promptly if you experience nausea or vomiting!


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Nausea and vomiting in pregnant women

Nausea and vomiting should not overshadow the joy of pregnancy. Relief is within reach of mothers-to-be.
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