Morning Sickness Tips for Expecting Expats

It all started at six weeks into my pregnancy.

At first, I thought I must’ve eaten something a little off (which is not unthinkable given the lack of refrigeration and excess of creepy-crawlies at my local supermarket).

No worries. It’ll pass.

But as the weeks went on, I became surrounded in a cloud of morning all-day sickness, completely nauseated and unable to move, let alone eat or drink.

Me, hating life.

So, for the first four months of pregnancy, my life was hell.

I was vomiting everything I ate, sometimes up to 10 times a day, dropping down to just 44kg.

Morning Sickness in China

Only having just arrived to China two months prior, adjusting to the new sights (i.e. public spitting) and smells (i.e. a trash can of rotting pork dumplings) – did not help.

Nausea trigger #167: Live turtle and toad produce at the supermarket.
Nausea trigger #168: Semi-alive eels and pungent dead mussels.

The Chinese medical system was also a challenge for a very green expat like me, with next to no language skills.

And from what I did understand, I didn’t understand.

Like such advice as “don’t exercise at all” (even taking the stairs), do not drink cold water (hot is always best) and no sex (that one wasn’t further explained, oddly enough).

Atop of this, I wasn’t able to get my hands on effective morning sickness pills, as they aren’t approved by the Chinese Medicine Board.

So, I was prescribed a B12 vitamin, which did a big fat nothing.

Some Tips for Expecting Expats in China


But I’m not just having a whinge (although, I am doing a rather good job of it).

Rather, after having gone through the dark tunnel and come out the other end, I hope to share what other expecting expat Mums in China can do to survive the dread of morning sickness.

And remember, you are not alone!

After a lot of trial and error, below is a list of the things that worked for me.

They may not necessarily work for you and I’m not a medical practitioner, but hey, we both know trying has got to be better than what you’re feeling now.

  • Know your position: For me, lying down flat meant that within seconds I’d be running to the bathroom. I propped some pillows around my shoulders to keep my head slightly up and this seemed to really help.
  • Drink fizzy: Ginger ale, Sprite, even Cola did the trick when I couldn’t stomach water. Yes, they’re not ideal but something is better than nothing to avoid dehydration.
  • Cover the smells: China can be a stinky place and both good and bad smells can trigger nausea. Try carrying a bunch of fresh mint leaves (Bo he ye), fresh ginger (Sheng jiang), lemon (Ning meng) or cardamon seed (Sha ren). Or experiment with bottles of essential oils to see what smells work best for you.
  • Frozen fruit: If water and food are making you gag, try cutting up and freezing an assortment of sliced fruit. Nibbling on ice-cold fruit helps to get some food into your tummy. The sage old advice of ‘eating small amounts often’ didn’t work for me but a lot of my pregnant mummy friends swear by it.
  • Salty, salty: I spent many a morning falling asleep with salty crackers in my hand. Simple starches are great to settle a queasy stomach. (A lovely friend of mine, brought me back a jar of Vegemite, which was a life saver for me – but only because I’m Australian!)
  • Hydrate at the right times: Drinking plenty of water is advised by most doctors. However, I found when out walking or getting in a taxi it was terrible to have all a belly full of water sloshing around.
  • Keep the endorphins flowing: Staying positive is vital when you’re feeling like La Shi (poop) warmed up. If you can, go outside for a short walk, watch some stand-up comedy and even invite an understanding friend over. It will help take your mind off things.
  • Avoid your triggers: have a well-ventilated bathroom, keep windows open to get the smells out, ask your hubby to lighten up on his aftershave, etc. It’s also a good idea to have a box of tissues, bottle of listerine and toothbrush at hand after a trip to the bathroom, to flush the smell out of your senses.


I’d like to say a special thanks to family, friends and husband who gave loving support and advice, brought me flowers and prepared food for me in bed. My life was made brighter thanks to you!


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