Your Guide to Morning Sickness: Causes, Relief and When to Seek Help

4 min read


By Wing Joo Loong Team

Key Takeaways

  • Morning sickness is nausea and vomiting that typically lasts from the 4th to 14th week of pregnancy and affects 70% of expectant mothers.
  • According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), morning sickness may arise from a weakened stomach, spleen and liver. It can be alleviated through lifestyle and natural alternatives such as herbal soups and teas.
  • In most cases, morning sickness is a common occurrence that does not pose any harm to the foetus. However, a smaller handful may experience a more severe condition. Read on to learn the signs.

Embarking on the beautiful journey of motherhood comes with its joys and challenges. And amid the rollercoaster of emotions to adapting to the physical changes, some women also experience the discomfort of morning sickness, an issue many new moms-to-be struggle with.

What is morning sickness?

Morning sickness is nausea and vomiting that usually begin during the first month of pregnancy and can occur at any time of the day. Contrary to its name, morning sickness does not adhere to a schedule as it strikes at any given time of the day. It can start as early as the 4th week of a woman's pregnancy and typically clears up around the 14th week, but the timing varies significantly from person to person, as everyone's pregnancy journey is unique.

Symptoms & causes of morning sickness

Common symptoms of morning sickness include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Heartburn or reflux
  • Strong aversions to certain smells, tastes or odours

As your body readies itself to nurture another life, significant changes in hormone levels, including an increase in human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), can contribute to morning sickness. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), morning sickness may arise from a weakened stomach, spleen and liver. This is because your body is directing Qi (vital energy) and blood to your pelvic region to nourish the developing foetus.

Fortunately, there are ways to find relief and ease the challenges of your first trimester. Besides pregnancy-safe medications, here are some lifestyle tips and natural alternatives to reduce discomfort and enhance your digestive system’s well-being.

Si shen tang ingredients

How to alleviate morning sickness

There is no one-size-fits-all remedy to soothing morning sickness. Instead, try the following methods to see which works best for you and your body.

Herbal soup to ease digestive discomfort 

Si shen tang is a time-tested herbal formula that can strengthen the digestive system and balance the flow of Qi (vital energy) and blood for overall well-being. It is suitable for consumption during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Best foods for morning sickness 

Dividing your daily intake into 5-6 smaller meals could be beneficial. To reduce pregnancy nausea symptoms, opt for bland, easy-to-digest foods like bananas, dry crackers and toast at the beginning of the day. Protein-rich foods like chicken, peanut butter, hard-boiled eggs, nuts and Greek yoghurt can also help to ease morning sickness.

Overeating can trigger nausea, so go with the natural flow of your body’s needs.

Maintaining hydration during pregnancy nausea

Stay hydrated throughout the day with gentle sips of water, fruit juices, soups and mild herbal teas. In particular, ginger, lemon balm and camomile herbal teas can help soothe the digestive system and alleviate pregnancy nausea.

Explore acupressure or tuina massage 

Acupuncture or tuina may help to alleviate morning sickness. The practices stimulate the kidney, liver and digestive tracts, promoting relaxation through specific pressure points. Consult a certified TCM practitioner to find out which treatment is best for you.

Does vomiting in pregnancy affect my baby? 

One of the primary concerns for expecting mothers is whether morning sickness has any impact on the developing baby. Fortunately, for most cases, vomiting in pregnancy is a common occurrence that does not pose any harm to the foetus.

This leads to the next important question...

When does it become serious to seek medical help? 

While most expectant mothers find morning sickness manageable over time, a smaller handful may experience a more severe condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum.

Hyperemesis gravidarum is characterised by prolonged and frequent vomiting in pregnancy that disrupts daily life. This condition can lead to severe dehydration, potentially endangering both you and your baby.

Seek professional medical attention if you experience any of the following:

  • Significant weight loss 
  • Scant or no urine, possibly signalling dehydration
  • Unable to consume any foods for over 8 hours 
  • Dizziness upon standing 
  • Persistent vomiting 
  • Presence of blood in the vomit 
  • Severe pain 

Additionally, remember that nausea could also signal other underlying health issues. If discomfort persists, it is advisable to contact your gynaecologist.

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Any self-care tips to help manage menstrual pains?

1.Avoid cold drinks, reduce water sports, and keep warm before your expected menstrual period.

2.Drink Brown Sugar Ginger Tea 2 days before menstruation starts or when menstrual cramps occur. Boil 15g of brown sugar and 15g of young ginger in a pot of water.

3.Acupressure massage for pain relief:

He Gu Acupoint

Location: Tender point found on the back of the hand between the thumb and the index finger

Function: He Gu Acupoint is a common point used to relieve pain and can help to relieve painful period cramps

How to massage: Press the acupoint with your other thumb and massage for 1 minute each time

Tai Chong Acupoint

Location: Tender point between the big toe and second toe

Function: Tai Chong Acupoint belongs to the Liver meridian and can help to improve Qi circulation to help improve mood and reduce irritability

How to massage: Press on the acupoint with your thumb and massage for 1 minute each time

Qi Hai Acupoint

Location: 1.5 inches below the belly button

Function: Qi Hai literally translates to “Sea of Energy” and is believed to be the point on the body where Qi gathers. Pressing this acupoint can help to increase Qi and energy and reduce bloating

How to massage: Press with your index and middle finger and massage for 1 minute each time

4.Add TCM herbs to your cooking or as dietary supplements

  • Angelica root (当归): Nourishes blood, regulates menstrual cycle and improves blood flow
  • Rehmannia (熟地): Nourishes Kidney, regulates menstrual cycle and improves blood circulation
  • Red peony root (赤芍): Improves blood circulation and relieves pain
  • Sichuan loveage root (川芎): Improves both Qi and Blood circulation

5.Exercise moderately to improve blood circulation, strengthen immunity, and increase Qi to overcome fatigue during menstruation.

Any self-care tips to help manage menstrual pains?

The information above serves as a general guide only. Please consult a certified TCM practitioner for a more accurate diagnosis and treatment.

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