A guide to coping with nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting is common during the first three months of pregnancy. It usually eases by 16 weeks but can lead to weakness, weight loss and poor nutrition.
The following tips may help you cope and get the benefit of some nutrition, even when you are feeling unwell.
1. Eat little and often:
• Take small snacks and meals every 2 to 3 hours. Try to take food and drinks separately. Often dry meals are better tolerated.
• Try to eat something light such as dry toast, crackers or plain biscuits before getting out of bed in the morning. Then wait about 15 to 20 minutes before getting out of bed.
• Try cold foods or easy to prepare foods such as sandwiches and ready meals until symptoms settle.
• Take whatever food you are drawn to. Think of what flavours, temperature and textures that appeal to you:
– Sweet, salty, bitter or sour
– Hot, warm or cold
– Crunchy, dry or soft
– Thin, wafer-like slices or small cubes
2. Take plenty of fluids:
• Aim to drink at least 8 cups of fluid per day.
• If you cannot tolerate tap water, try bottled water, flavoured water, weak tea, diluted fruit juice or fizzy drinks allowed to go flat.
• Try ice pops, ice lollies, jelly or ice cream if you cannot take fluids.
• Clear soups or broth and juicy fruits can add to your fluid intake.
3. Other helpful tips:
• Take your folic acid every day until you are 12 weeks’ pregnant. It may be best to take a complete vitamin and mineral supplement made for pregnant women after the first 12 weeks.
• Avoid having to rush in the morning, when symptoms are often worse. Prepare your clothes and shower before bed time rather than in the morning if it is easier.
• Avoid strong smells such as perfumes and cooking odours.
• Get some extra rest. You need more sleep during the first 3 months of pregnancy and becoming overly tired can make the nausea worse.
• Ask for help from others. Your partner, family and friends can help by doing some shopping, cooking and cleaning to allow you to get more rest.
Ideas for snacks:
• Breakfast cereals with or without milk
• Toast or crackers
• Thinly sliced fruit
• Plain digestives, Marietta or rich tea biscuits
• Hot or cold milky drinks: hot chocolate, Horlick’s, Ovaltine, Complan
• Sandwiches made with wafer-thin chicken, ham, or cheese
• Light, broth-base soup, Bovril or Oxo
• Baked beans on toast or a baked potato
• Plain thin spaghetti, noodles or rice
• Rice pudding
Do not worry if your diet is not the best while you are sick. Try to eat enough to keep your energy up and prevent weight loss.
This will not affect your baby’s development. Once the sickness fades, aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
You can read more about healthy eating for pregnancy and food safety advice in the maternity information pack from the maternity outpatient reception.
You should see your doctor if you cannot keep any fluids down and are losing weight. You can ask your doctor or midwife for a referral to see the dietitian as well.