Tips for Handling Morning Sickness at Work

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Nothing is more challenging in the first few months of pregnancy than trying to balance work while feeling nauseous. If you are one of the nearly 80% of pregnant women who get morning sickness, knowing how to navigate the situation is a necessity.

The good news is that most women 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 that you 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?

Your Commute

Some women experience the feeling of nausea, but not vomiting, while some women 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 consider other options for getting to and from work. For instance, you could carpool, use public transportation, call a taxi, or use an Uber. On the other hand, some women feel less carsick if they're driving. Regardless of whether or not you can use alternate transportation, here are some ways to get through your commute:

  • 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 down and breathe the fresh air if you are in a vehicle and not using public transportation. 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

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. 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. 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. Many women find these especially useful in minimizing those 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 during the day, especially outside. Sometimes a bit of fresh air and movement can help keep the 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; or, 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 women 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 to help with clean up
  • 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 the office 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 for most women. 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 pregnant women feel their best.

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  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