Morning sickness: lifestyle and medicine treatments

1 April 2014

Up to 90% of pregnant women are affected by morning sickness. The cause is unclear and probably has many contributing factors, but unrelenting nausea and vomiting can be debilitating.

According to a new article published this month in Australian Prescriber, dietary and lifestyle interventions, along with appropriate medicine treatment, can help most women continue their everyday life and work with minimal disruption.

Tricia Taylor of MotherSafe at the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney says that management of nausea and vomiting early in pregnancy can reduce the symptoms and have a profound effect on a woman’s health and quality of life.

“Many women don’t receive appropriate advice about lifestyle changes or timely drug treatment when they are feeling ill during pregnancy,” says Ms Taylor.

The article outlines some commonly practised lifestyle interventions for morning sickness in pregnancy. This includes identifying and avoiding known triggers, avoiding having an empty stomach, and eating small amounts of food often.

“There are plenty of lifestyle and dietary tips that may help, and these should certainly be implemented first. If symptoms do persist then pregnant women should be reassured that there is extensive experience with the medicines that are included in the current guidelines. None have been shown to increase the risk of birth defects or other problems in pregnancy,” she says.

“For example, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is considered the first line of drug treatment for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. If it doesn’t have an effect on its own, it can also be taken with other anti-nausea and anti-vomiting medicines.

“Drug treatment of nausea and vomiting shouldn’t be withheld for fear of harming the baby, and women should feel confident to ask questions of their health professional and find a solution to help them feel better.”

The Australian Prescriber article provides a run-down of the medicines included in the current guidelines, along with a list of obstetric drug information services in Australia including NPS Medicines Line. An editorial about classifying drugs in pregnancy is also published in this month’s issue.

To read the full article and others visit

Individuals with questions about their medicine can call NPS Medicines Line (1300 MEDICINE or 1300 633 424), Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm AEST.


Australian Prescriber is an independent peer-reviewed journal providing critical commentary on therapeutic topics for health professionals, particularly doctors in general practice. It is published every two months and distributed to health professionals free of charge, and is also available online at 

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