Diarrhoea and vomiting

Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, often known as morning sickness, is very common in early pregnancy.It can affect you anytime during the day or night, and usually settles by 16-20 weeks. Some women suffer with severe sickness during pregnancy, this is called hyperemesis gravidarum and may require treatment from your GP.

Diarrhoea and vomiting is not usually pregnancy related and most commonly caused by gastroenteritis (a tummy bug). During bouts of sickness and/ or diarrhoea it is important to remain hydrated. If you are vomiting, try to take sips of water (little and often) rather than large volumes in one go.

Diarrhoea usually last 5-7 days and vomiting usually lasts 1-2 days.

For more information on local services please click here.

When should you get help?

Diarrhoea and vomiting is not a medical emergency, however medical help should be sought immediately if you have an infection (usually associated with a fever) and show signs of sepsis.

Signs of sepsis:

  • Slurred speech or confusions
  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain
  • Passing no urine (in a day)
  • Severe breathlessness
  • It feels like you’re going to die
  • Skin mottled or discoloured

You need urgent help.

Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999

Contact your GP if:

  • You are unable to tolerate fluids and continue to vomit 
  • You have been unable to pass urine for the past 8 hours.
  • You have diarrhoea for more than 7 days or vomiting for more than 3 days
  • You have a long term health condition, diabetes or take regular medications
  • Reduced baby movements

Please alert the receptionist to your symptoms as they may wish you to wait in isolation, apart from the main waiting area.

Contact your maternity unit if you are experiencing:

  • Vomiting with other symptoms of pre-eclampsia or known high blood pressure.
  • Severe headaches not relieved with paracetamol
  • Visual disturbances, such as blurring or seeing flashing lights
  • Epigastric pain- pain just below the ribs not related to your baby moving
  • Sudden increase in swelling (oedema) - particularly swelling to the face 

You need to contact your maternity unit or GP/NHS 111 depending on the advice to the left.

Self-care at home if you have none of the red or amber signs above and:

  • You are able to keep down sips of water
  • You can still feel your baby move 

Stay at home and get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids such as water or squash. If feeling sick take small sips only. Eat when you feel able to. 

Self care

If you are still concerned, call NHS 111 – dial 111 or contact your maternity unit.

Your local maternity unit is staffed 24 hours a day with obstetrician s and midwives to help care for you, your baby and your pregnancy related health concerns. For some AMBER concerns it may be possible to be seen in a midwifery led unit if it is more convenient for you. For health concerns that are not related to your pregnancy you are advised to see your GP, call NHS 111 out of hours, or attend A&E if it is an emergency.

To find the contact numbers for your local maternity unit, please click here.

  • Labour line (maternity advice line) - Many maternity units provide women with a central advice line often called “labour line”. You are advised to call this number if you think you might be in labour. The phone is answered by a midwife 24hours a day. They will ask you questions, assess you and give advice. When the time is right they will arrange for you to attend your preferred place of birth, or arrange a midwife to come to you if you are planning a homebirth.
  • Community Midwife- Your community midwife provides you with all routine maternity care from your first “booking in“ appointment in early pregnancy to discharging you to the care of the health visitors when your baby is 2 weeks old. She will give you information on keeping you and your baby healthy during pregnancy and refer you to specialists if required.

Whilst you may have individual contact details for your community midwife, if you are concerned about your pregnancy we advise you call the maternity unit on the numbers provided because staff are available 24 hours a day. Please do not leave urgent voicemails or text on a community midwife’s phone.

GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and can arrange referral to a hospital specialist should you need it. Whilst pregnant, you will have regular appointments with a midwife but it is still important to continue with any ongoing care from your GP.

NHS 111 can ask you questions to assess your symptoms, give you advice or can put you in touch with a GP out of usual working hours.

A&E departments provide vital care for life threatening emergencies, such as suspected heart attack or breathing difficulties. If you are not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.