Advertisement

How can I relieve morning sickness and nausea during pregnancy?

About 70 percent of women experience nausea during pregnancy. Ways to manage nausea include ginger and vitamin B6.

More than half of pregnant women experience morning sickness or fatigue. Morning sickness usually occurs only in the first trimester. While the phenomenon remains a medical mystery, it is believed to be caused by rising hormone levels. One way to cope is to drink and eat in small amounts throughout the day. For some, eating crackers may be all they can handle. Save your eating and important work decisions for the time of day you usually feel best. There is usually no cause for concern, but if you can't keep down fluids, you should see your doctor. As for "first-trimester fatigue," it usually resolves by the fourth month. Eating balanced meals, taking your prenatal vitamins and taking short naps may help.

There's nothing that spoils the elation of a positive pregnancy test quite like the misery of morning sickness. While 50% of women have at least occasional nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, some are debilitated to the point that they can't function or work.

To help reduce morning sickness, the first step is to forget everything your books say about nutrition during pregnancy and focus on eating things that don't provoke your gag reflex. Eating small amounts of bland, dry, high protein foods is your best bet. Lemons also seem to help, and while it has not been confirmed that ginger in food decreases nausea, one study established that ginger tablets seem to make a significant difference. To keep something in your stomach all the time, try eating multiple small snacks throughout the day rather than three big meals. Your goal is to maintain your weight and not get dehydrated.

  • Vitamin B6 (10-25mg every 8 hours) and the antihistamine doxylamine have been shown in many studies to reduce nausea by as much as 70%. In addition, many anti-nausea drugs are safe in pregnancy for the 10% of women who have severe symptoms. If you are unable to keep anything down, call your doctor sooner rather than later.
  • Acupressure and acupuncture (anti-nausea wristbands) are worth trying since some studies show a benefit, but keep in mind that wearing one (unless you are on a boat) is the equivalent of putting a billboard on your forehead announcing that you are pregnant. So, if you are not ready to tell the world, I recommend long sleeves or lots of bangles.

Morning sickness is something that affects many women during their first trimester especially, and sometimes even beyond the first trimester. To help relieve morning sickness, you can start with some dietary modifications, such as increasing your protein intake and decreasing your carbohydrate intake. In addition, you can try to increase your salty food intake, and sour foods can also be really good. Sometimes, having a sour candy that you can suck on when you are starting to feel a little bit queasy can calm your stomach down. In addition, ginger supplements or ginger in your meals has been studied and found to be effective.

You can also use some over-the-counter medication, including Meclizine, which is similar to Dramamine—it's usually marketed under Dramamine too. You can also use vitamin B6 with half a Unisom tablet. If you are going to use the Unisom tablet, try it at night first to make sure that it doesn't make you too sleepy. If you do OK with it, then go ahead and take it three times per day. If it does make you too sleepy, then you can just take the vitamin B6 during the morning and in the afternoon. There are some bands called Accu-Bands. They are acupressure bands -- little bands that go on just above the wrist and give you just a little acupressure to a point there. Some women find this to be helpful.

Dr. Dawn Marcus
Neurologist

During the first weeks of pregnancy, nausea or "morning sickness" can be particularly difficult. Ask your doctor about how to best manage morning sickness when you are developing your pregnancy treatment plan. Both lifestyle changes and nutritional therapies are often helpful.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends treating pregnancy-related nausea with vitamin B6 and ginger, both of which are safe and effective. In one study, pregnant women used either ginger or vitamin B6 over a 4-day period to treat nausea. Nausea severity decreased by about 20% with either treatment after the first day of treatment. After 4 days, nausea had decreased by over half with ginger and by one-third with vitamin B6.

Another herbal therapy, An-Tai-Yin, has been used to treat morning sickness. However, it has been linked to increased risk for birth defects when used during the first trimester and should not be used when you are trying to get pregnant or during early pregnancy.

Applying acupressure over the wrist at the P6 acupressure point can also relieve nausea. This acupressure point is located between the tendons about two to three finger widths above your wrist crease. Make firm, deep circular motions over this area for several minutes to reduce nausea.

If your nausea is severe, talk to your doctor about possible prescription medications. The nausea drug ondansetron (Zofran) is considered relatively safe during pregnancy, and obstetricians often prescribe promethazine (Phenergan).

The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit: Manage Your Symptoms and Take Control of Your Life

More About this Book

The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit: Manage Your Symptoms and Take Control of Your Life

The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit tells readers what they need to know to take control of fibromyalgia symptoms. It includes step-by-step instructions for using effective non-drug treatments,...
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

There are no surefire solutions when it comes to squashing morning sickness and nausea during pregnancy. A lot of things can help you feel better, but that doesn't mean they all will. So, unfortunately, this is one of those areas in which you may have to play mad scientist and experiment a bit to see what therapy may be best for your body. Here are some things that have been shown to relieve the misery:

  • Keeping 100% whole grain crackers by your bed and eating a few as soon as you wake (to get something in your stomach before you start moving around)
  • Eating a diet high in protein and complex carbohydrates
  • Chicken broth (to help you get some calories in with the liquid)
  • Cold foods (hot foods have a stronger smell, which can trigger queasiness)
  • Vitamin B6 (10 mg)
  • Leafy greens, because they're rich in vitamin K, which seems to help
  • Brown rice
  • Acupuncture (treatment is forearm needles for 2 days)
  • Acupressure wristbands to stimulate pressure points
  • Fresh ginger root in a cup of tea (or a 300 mg capsule)
  • Light exercise
  • Using a mouth rinse after vomiting (and after each meal) to keep your mouth fresh, reduce nausea, and reduce the amount of tooth decay which can occur from the interaction of stomach acid with enamel.
  • Meditating to help control stress (morning sickness is more common in women under a lot of stress)
  • The homeopathic remedy nux vomica, which seems to help with nausea and irritability (homeopathic remedies are hotly debated within the medical community, but are unlikely to cause harm).

If morning sickness is especially severe and doesn't begin to subside after your first trimester, see your doctor.

YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

More About this Book

YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

Can I get a cavity filled while pregnant? Will avoiding spicy foods make my kid a picky eater? Can I really increase my baby's IQ while she's in utero? Whether you're pregnant for the first time, are trying to start your family, or already have enough children to start your own basketball team, you're bound to have questions about what it means to be pregnant -- and how you can increase your odds of having a healthy and happy pregnancy. But no matter how much you've read, watched, studied, or talked about this amazing biological journey, you have never read anything like this. In this groundbreaking book, Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz act as mythbusters for the hundreds of questions surrounding pregnancy in the same scientific, informative, and entertaining ways that have made them America's Doctors. In these pages, you'll learn everything you need to know about the miracles of fetal development, your health throughout the pregnancy, and providing the best possible environment for your growing child. Pregnancy is a complicated balancing act, but it doesn't have to be frightening. The doctors will help you de-stress as they describe accurately and rationally what happens during a thrilling nine months of life. While every pregnant body is different, odds are you'll experience some of the cravings, crying, and discomfort that almost all women go through. Your best tactic? Learn why these things are happening -- and what you should do about them. YOU: Having a Baby will teach you everything you need to know about what to eat (should I be eating for two?), how much to exercise, and what guilty pleasures will actually make pregnancy easier on you (and the loved ones who get to be around you for the whole thing). Each phase of pregnancy has different challenges, but the right information will prepare you for what's ahead. The interactive week-by-week calendar inside provides an even more detailed guideline for how and what you should feel through every step of the process. Exciting, cutting-edge scientific research in the fi eld of epigenetics has changed the way the medical profession looks at pregnancy, and now it can change your perspective, too. Epigenetics explores what makes us develop in certain ways -- why some people thrive at math while others are prone to chronic diseases. It turns out that there are easy things you can do that will not just help your baby's development in utero but will actually improve his or her chances of living a healthy, fulfi lling adult life. Filled with recipes for nutritious, satisfying snacks and meals even Pop can cook (yes, he can!), safe exercises for staying fit, and tons of YOU tips that will help you stay comfortable, YOU: Having a Baby is the ultimate guidebook for what to do from the moment of conception to the weeks after your child has arrived home. From morning sickness and food cravings to choosing a doctor and changing a diaper, YOU: Having a Baby will give you the real scoop about what's in store for you during this amazing time in your life.

A couple of things could be happening to make you feel so queasy. A vomiting center in your brain (didn't know you had one, huh?) is more sensitive, and your digestive tract is more relaxed, making it more likely that foods travel up as well as down. These factors, plus the heightened sense of smell you have during pregnancy, create a swirling gastrointestinal (GI) storm that can make you sickened by the mere mention of food.

A lot of things can help you feel better, but that doesn't mean they all will. So, unfortunately, this is one of those areas in which you may have to experiment a bit to see what therapy may be best for your body. Here are some things that have been shown to relieve the misery:

  • Keep 100% whole-grain crackers by your bed, and eat a few as soon as you wake, to get something in your stomach before you start moving around.
  • Eat a diet high in protein and complex carbohydrates.
  • Sip chicken broth to help you get some calories in along with the liquid.
  • Stick with cold foods; hot foods have a stronger smell, which can trigger queasiness.
  • Take vitamin B6 (6 mg).
  • Eat leafy greens, because they're rich in vitamin K, which seems to help.
  • Eat brown rice.
  • Try acupuncture (forearm needles for 2 days).
  • Wear acupressure wristbands to stimulate pressure points.
  • Brew fresh ginger root in a cup of tea (or take a 300 mg capsule).
  • Get light exercise.
  • Use a mouth rinse after vomiting (and after each meal) to keep your mouth fresh, reduce nausea, and reduce the amount of tooth decay that can occur from the interaction of stomach acid with enamel.
  • Meditate to help control stress. Morning sickness is more common in women under a lot of stress.
  • Explore homeopathic remedies. They are hotly debated within the medical community but are unlikely to cause harm. Nux vomica seems to help with nausea and irritability.
  • Consider meds. If your morning sickness is really bad, talk to your doc about prescription medications like: Scopolamine (Transderm Scop, Scopace), Promethazine (Phenergan), Prochlorperazine (Compazine), Trimethobenzamide (Tigan)

Your healthcare professional can provide information on strategies to decrease nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness and, if these strategies don't work, can offer medications. Here are some suggestions to help minimize this problem:

  • Eat saltine crackers or dry bread just before you go to bed at night and when you first wake in the morning.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals so your stomach never gets completely empty.
  • Avoid greasy or fatty food.
  • Drink fluids between rather than during your meals.
  • Get enough rest and take breaks when your energy level is low.
  • Avoid highly seasoned foods, cream and strongly flavored vegetables such as onions.
  • Take a total of 1 to 1.5 grams of powdered ginger in divided doses throughout the day (after clearing it with your healthcare professional).
  • Take 25 mg three times a day of vitamin B6 alone or with the antihistamine doxylamine (after clearing it with your healthcare professional).

Eating small meals may help with “morning sickness,” which is often worse when your stomach is empty. Morning sickness is not limited to mornings, and nausea can occur day or night, often accompanied by vomiting.

If you have morning sickness, there are some dietary steps you can take to feel better. It can help to keep some starch, such as Melba toast, rice or popcorn cakes, or saltines or other low-fat crackers, close at hand to eat if you become nauseated. Some women find it helpful to eat a small snack at bedtime or before they get up in the morning to prevent morning sickness.

Help with Nausea:

  • Eat dry crackers or toast before rising.
  • Eat small meals every 2 1/2–3 hours.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Avoid fatty and high-sodium foods.
  • Drink fluids between meals, not with meals.
  • Take prenatal vitamins after dinner or at bedtime.
  • Always carry food with you.
  • Talk with your health care team. They may have helpful suggestions. Also tell them about any herbs or supplements you may be using. These may make nausea worse.

During week 6 of pregnancy, you may start experiencing morning sickness. This common symptom of pregnancy involves nausea and vomiting. Though it is called morning sickness, the symptoms may occur at any point during the day. To help treat these symptoms, it may help to eat several small meals throughout the day. Avoiding fatty foods and drinking seltzer water may also help. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids so you don't get too dehydrated. If you can't keep food or liquid down at all, talk to your doctor about other treatment possibilities to make sure you are getting the nutrients you and your baby need.

The most infamous symptom of early pregnancy is morning sickness, which—as you may have discovered—can occur at any time of day. Many women experience no nausea at all, while others suffer from frequent vomiting. To better cope with nausea, you may want to:

  • Eat dry crackers in the morning before rising.
  • Eat several small meals during the day, instead of three large ones.
  • Avoid rich, spicy, fatty and fried foods.
  • Take daily walks in fresh air.
  • Avoid offensive odors.
  • Talk to your doctor about waiting a few weeks to take prenatal vitamins.
  • If vomiting is severe, call your doctor.
Paula Greer
Midwifery Nursing Specialist

Many of us have a little nausea when we are pregnant as our hormones start raging in the early part of the pregnancy. For some of us the nausea turns into vomiting and becomes a vicious cycle. Low blood sugars can contribute to nausea so it is easy to get into an escalating cycle...Our heightened senses can make certain smells make us queasy, the nausea starts, we avoid eating, our blood sugar drops and the nausea gets worse. There are many tips to help with nausea. First and foremost try to eat small amounts 5-6 times a day to keep your blood sugar up. Keep dry crackers at your bedside and make sure to eat before bed and before arising. Vitamin B6 supplementation has also shown to be helpful. Seabands (a bracelet that puts acupressure on the meridian that helps with nausea) can be found at most drugstores and boating stores and can also help. Ginger has long been known to help nausea and can be found in ginger beer, real ginger ale and even in a ginger gum. Sucking on sour candy can help with the funny tastes and excessive saliva which may also be contributing to your nausea. Rubbing a small amount of peppermint oil on your tummy may be helpful. Some stores carry preggie lollipops which have the sour candy, vitamin B6 and ginger already in them. Discuss all these remedies with your healthcare provider and rest assured if even these don’t help there are medicines that can be used to get you through this trying time. Most nausea and vomiting are resolved by second trimester so have faith and hang in there.

Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Administration Specialist

A few lucky women have neither nausea nor vomiting during pregnancy, but about half of us have both nausea and vomiting during the first months of pregnancy. Mild to moderate nausea and vomiting may make you feel awful, but it will not hurt you or your baby. Generally, nausea goes away or diminishes greatly by the beginning of the second trimester.

The first steps in coping with nausea or vomiting in pregnancy are lifestyle and diet changes. Sometimes making these changes is all it takes to feel better. Nausea during pregnancy is worse if you are dehydrated or if the level of sugar in your blood is low from not eating often enough.

Here are some strategies for managing nausea:

  • Eat plain saltine crackers or dry toast in the morning before getting out of bed and anytime during the day when you feel nauseous.
  • Eat small meals every two to three hours instead of three large meals.
  • Avoid foods that have strong odors.
  • Try eating foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as potatoes, noodles, or bread.
  • Wait for 30 minutes after eating to drink liquids.
  • Try sucking on a slice of lemon or lime.
  • Do not lie down right after eating.
  • Try sipping room-temperature carbonated drinks that do not contain sugar throughout the day.
  • Try eating foods with ginger, such as ginger ale, ginger snaps, and ginger candies. Ginger is a proven remedy for nausea.
  • Try eating yogurt. Dairy products may make nausea and vomiting worse, but some women say yogurt is helpful.
Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth

More About this Book

Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth

ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO MAKE WISE DECISIONS ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY AND THE BIRTH OF YOUR CHILD -- FROM THE EDITORS OF THE CLASSIC "BIBLE OF WOMEN'S HEALTH" Pregnancy and birth are as ordinary...

Continue Learning about Morning Sickness & Pregnancy

What are ways to reduce nausea during pregnancy?
Paula GreerPaula Greer
Taking your prenatal vitamins before bedtime instead of in the morning is one way you can combat...
More Answers
What is morning sickness during pregnancy?
Riverside Women's HealthRiverside Women's Health
In the first trimester hormone changes can cause nausea and vomiting. This is called "morning sickne...
More Answers
How Can I Relieve Morning Sickness During Pregnancy?
How Can I Relieve Morning Sickness During Pregnancy?
What Are Ways to Reduce Nausea During Pregnancy?
What Are Ways to Reduce Nausea During Pregnancy?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.