Tips for Handling Morning Sickness at Work

Pregnant at Work

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Trying to balance work while feeling nauseous is one of the biggest challenges in the first few months of pregnancy. If you are one of the nearly 80% of pregnant people who gets morning sickness, knowing how to navigate the situation is a necessity.

The good news is that most people only experience morning sickness in early pregnancy. But there are a few that will struggle with its symptoms even into the third trimester. Consequently, it's essential to develop an arsenal of tips and tricks to help you get through those waves of nausea that come with the increase in hormones surging through your body.

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What Does Morning Sickness Feel Like?

Coping With Morning Sickness on Your Commute

You may experience the feeling of nausea, but not vomiting, or you may have both. Either way, it's a good idea to plan ahead. One of the first things to think about is how you're going to safely get to and from work.

If you regularly feel so nauseous or dizzy that driving becomes difficult, you might need to consider other options for getting to and from work, such as a carpool, public transportation, taxi, or ride-share service. On the other hand, you may feel less carsick if you are driving.

Regardless of whether or not you can use alternate transportation, here are some ways to get through your commute when you have morning sickness.

  • Fill a travel mug with ice water, which can sometimes help settle your stomach or can do double duty if you need to wash your face or rinse out your mouth. Water also helps prevent you from getting dehydrated.
  • Roll down the windows and breathe fresh air if you can. If it's cold, you can blast the heat or turn on the seat warmer.
  • Store barf bags in a convenient place so you don't ruin the upholstery or get into an accident.
  • Give yourself extra time so you can pull over to a safe spot if you need to wait for a wave of nausea or vomiting to pass.

Managing During the Workday

Morning sickness and the typical work day are not the ideal combination. But, with the right attitude, supplies, and tips, you can make it work.

  • Keep barf bags and a wastebasket handy in an easily accessible place. This way, you are not pressed to get to the bathroom if you feel the need to vomit but you don't have time to get there.
  • Place a cool rag in a small cooler, especially if putting it on your forehead makes you feel better. This way, it's ready to use when you need it.
  • Stock up on nausea-squelching snacks to munch on if you start to feel queasy or shaky. Some classic choices are saltine crackers, ginger ale, fresh-fruit popsicles, and granola bars. Figure out what works best for you and stock up.
  • Have some Tums and/or ginger chews on hand, as well as mint-flavored gum. These can be useful in minimizing feelings of nausea.
  • Keep a water bottle at your desk. Sip on it throughout the day to keep nausea at bay and to stay hydrated.
  • Try getting up and walking around often, especially outside. Sometimes a bit of fresh air and movement can help keep queasiness at bay.
  • Look for ways to find some privacy. If you're lucky enough to have your own office, you can quietly shut the door. If you are surrounded by co-workers, borrow a private space. The key is that you allow yourself some time to decompress and relax.
  • Consider asking for help from your coworkers (if you have announced your pregnancy). For instance, they might be able to cover for you while you step away from your desk.
  • Experiment with morning sickness aids like Sea-Bands or Psi Bands, ginger ale, and Preggie Pops. Some people find them really useful in reducing the symptoms of morning sickness.
  • Remember that morning sickness will go away eventually. Knowing there's an end in sight can help you cope better with the misery.

Freshening Up After Morning Sickness

Nothing's worse than getting sick at work, but sometimes it happens and it's best to be prepared. Put together a small bag of supplies and keep it with you. This emergency pack will come in handy if you need to freshen up after a bout of sickness. Of course, you will need to personalize your emergency pack, but here are some ideas of things you could include:

  • A toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, and mints
  • A hairbrush, hairspray, and hair ties
  • Face towelettes, makeup remover wipes, and tissues
  • A natural aromatherapy spray like peppermint or lavender to boost your mood
  • Any makeup you need to replenish what's been wiped off

You may even want to leave an extra outfit, including an extra pair of shoes, at work just in case there is a disaster. Hopefully, you won't need it, but it's good to be prepared just in case.

A Word From Verywell

Fortunately, morning sickness is typically a short-lived experience, lasting only during the first trimester. Still, it can feel overwhelming when you feel sick every day.

One way to cope is to remind yourself that having morning sickness is usually a good sign of a healthy pregnancy. What's more, it won't last forever. Soon you will be in the second trimester, which is often when you will feel your best.

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1 Source
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Lee NM, Saha S. Nausea and vomiting of pregnancyGastroenterol Clin North Am. 2011;40(2):309-vii. doi:10.1016/j.gtc.2011.03.009

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.