Morning Sickness and Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)

Morning Sickness and Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)

Morning Sickness and Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)

Morning sickness affects 70-80% of pregnant women at some point.  Morning sickness is a name for nausea caused by the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) and it can also be known as nausea gravidarum, nausea/vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), emesis gravidarum, and pregnancy sickness.

Nausea usually starts around 6 weeks of pregnancy (around two weeks after you miss your period) but may start as early as 2-3 weeks Levels usually rise eight days after ovulation. During the first 10 weeks of pregnancy HCG levels double every two days and go on to peak at 60 to 90 days. HCG levels start to lower slightly towards the end of the pregnancy.

Although most pregnant women notice that their nausea subsides around 12-14 weeks into pregnancy, some still have symptoms up to the birth of the child.

Morning sickness can last through the entire day and night, not just in the morning as the name suggests. Morning sickness does not necessarily mean you are sick but may feel the need to be.

What can set off morning sickness/ Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

Although it is believed the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) can contribute to morning sickness, there is no exact diagnosed cause. You may suffer from morning sickness/HG if:

  • you’re having twins or triplets
  • you suffered nausea and vomiting in a previous pregnancy
  • you tend to get motion sickness/car sick.
  • you suffer with migraine headaches.
  • morning sickness runs in the family
  • you felt sick when taking contraceptives containing oestrogen
  • it’s your first pregnancy
  • you’re obese (your BMI is 30 or more)
  • you’re experiencing stress

It is suggested sensory stimulation such as noise, moving images and bright lights may trigger morning sickness. Strong smells such as perfumes, cigarette smoke and spoiled food.  Most sufferers advise the smell, sight or hearing someone talking about certain food especially affected them. Some women are affected so much they still cannot eat certain things even after the pregnancy.

Morning Sickness and Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)


  • If cooking smells are unbearable try to avoid this. If you do cook or are around someone cooking, make sure windows are open and you’re far from the kitchen while it is going on. Alternatively, you can eat cold foods rather than hot ones if the smell of hot meals makes you feel sick.
  • Try eating first thing in the morning and just before bed. Having an empty stomach does not help when suffering from morning sickness. Plan meals in advance. Good snacks to keep close by are bananas, cereal bars, nuts, dried fruit, bread, crackers, peanut butter sandwiches and crisps.
  • Eat plain foods that are high in carbohydrate and low in fat (such as bread, rice, crackers and pasta). Try eating something like dry toast or a plain biscuit before you get out of bed.
  • Ginger comes in many forms. Ginger biscuits, ginger sweets, ginger ale and even ginger scents, such as candles can help with morning sickness. Ginger ale, ginger biscuits, ginger tea (maybe add some honey) Make sur you check with your pharmacist before taking ginger supplements during pregnancy.
  • Citrus fruit – Eating lemons, limes or oranges can relieve morning sickness symptoms. You can also throw them in your water or even just smell them.
  • Peppermint- Peppermint is a known nausea suppressor. Peppermint can be taken in tea, water or in a sweet form.
  • Sour foods– Sucking sour sweets has the same effect as peppermint. Granny Smith apples are also good to eat. The sour taste of these apples relives nausea and is also a healthy snack to have handy.
  • Liquids- It is extremely important you avoid becoming dehydrated during your pregnancy. Try drink little and often if you are struggling to intake liquids. If you can’t tolerate drinks, try sucking ice cubes, eating ice lollies or sipping very slowly through a straw. Some find bottled mineral/Soda water (NOT tonic water) is more palatable than tap water. Putting fruit such as lemon or strawberries in your water may also improve the taste.  If you are unable to take any liquids, then contact your GP/Midwife.
  • Acupressure bands – Acupressure bands (known as sea bands), provides relief by applying pressure on the P6 (or Nei-Kuan) point on both wrists. It has been proven that pressure on this point relieves nausea and vomiting.
  • Vitamin B6 naturally fights nausea as well as keeping your energy levels up. Ask a pharmacist for advice.
  • Fresh air can do wonders. While sitting on the couch is all you want to do, getting fresh air into your lungs can relive symptoms.
  • Get plenty of rest (tiredness can make nausea worse.
  • Anti-sickness medication– If your nausea and vomiting is severe and doesn’t improve, your GP may recommend a short-term course of an anti-sickness medicine, called an antiemetic. Antiemetics will be given in tablet form but can also be given in an injection form or as a suppository.
  • Invite friends and family over. This will help with the loneliness and isolation that many sufferers feel. If they are not able to visit give them a call and have a natter.
  • During periods when you can get out and about, have an emergency kit with you at all times. This should include a bag for the vomit (airline type paper bags, jiffy bags and nappy bags), wipes, tissues, plastic bags for disposal and a bottle of water for mouth rinsing afterwards.

When to See a Doctor

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a severe form of morning sickness and is at the extreme end of the pregnancy sickness spectrum.  HG affects 1% of pregnant women and is extremely unpleasant for those who suffer with it. Hyperemesis gravidarum generally decreases around 21 weeks into the pregnancy, but it may continue much longer. 1 in 100-150 women will be admitted to hospital due to the severity of their condition

Contact your GP or midwife immediately if you show symptoms of HG such as:

  • Persistent excessive vomiting (more than 3 or 4 times a day)
  • Unrelenting, severe nausea
  • Are unable to keep food or fluids down for 24 hours.
  • A decrease in urination due to dehydration, very dark-coloured urine or don’t pass urine for more than 8 hours
  • Maternal weight loss or failure to gain weight
  • Increased/rapid heartbeat
  • Headaches, confusion, light-headedness or fainting.
  • feel severely weak, dizzy or faint when standing up
  • have abdominal (tummy) pain
  • have a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • vomit blood

Pregnancy Sickness Support

If you are currently suffering and would like more information about treatment and coping strategies contact Pregnancy Sickness Support.

They can match you with a volunteer for one-to-one peer support. If they are unable to answer your call, leave a message with your name and number so that we can get back to you.

For further details you can visit the Pregnancy Sickness website here.

Helpline Number –  024 7638 2020 (available from 9am – 4:30pm)

You can email for support here.

Love from all the team at Window to the Womb xoxo