Tips for Handling Morning Sickness at Work

Pregnant at Work

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Many pregnant women, 70 to 80 percent, will get hyperemesis gravidarum, or as most of us call it, morning sickness. Most women will experience morning sickness in early pregnancy, though a few will have it into the third trimester as well.

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What Does Morning Sickness Feel Like?


Characterized by nausea and vomiting, potential complications from morning sickness include:

  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Electrolyte imbalance

Even though it's called morning sickness, these unpleasant symptoms can strike at any point during the day, which can be a real problem if you're a working mom. 

Your Commute

You may only experience the feeling of nausea, but not vomiting, or you might 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 feel nauseous or dizzy, you might consider public transportation or take a taxi because both nausea and vomiting can interfere with your ability to drive.

Whether or not you can use alternate transportation, here are some ways to get through the commute:

  • Before you leave home, 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.
  • If possible, roll the windows down and breathe the fresh air. 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 until the wave of nausea or vomiting passes.

Throughout the Day

Try these ideas to get through morning sickness during the work day:

  • Keep your barf bags and a wastebasket handy in an easily accessible place.
  • If a cool rag on your forehead makes you feel better, keep one in a small cooler.
  • Keep nausea-squelching snacks at your desk or in the employee lounge 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, but you'll figure out what works best for you. Having some Tums and/or ginger chews on-hand may be helpful too.
  • Try getting up and walking around, especially outside. Sometimes a bit of fresh air and movement can help keep the queasiness at bay.
  • If you're lucky enough to have your own office, you can quietly shut the door. However, if you work in a cubicle, or are surrounded by co-workers, try to borrow a private enclosed space or head to the restroom if you feel like you're going to vomit so that you don't make others ill too.
  • Consider enlisting some help from your office mates. They might be able to cover for you while you step away from your desk.
  • Remind yourself that the morning sickness will go away eventually. Knowing there's an end in sight can help you deal better with the misery.

Freshening Up After Morning Sickness

So, you're at work, you've thrown up, and now you have vomit breath. Thankfully, you've prepared a bag of goodies to help you freshen up a bit. Your bathroom kit can include:

  • A toothbrush, toothpaste, and/or mouthwash.
  • Face towelettes or tissues to clean up.
  • Any makeup you need to replenish what's been wiped off.
  • A natural aromatherapy spray like peppermint or lavender to boost your mood.
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