Morning sickness affects nearly 85% of pregnant women at some point during their pregnancy. Unlike it’s name tends to insinuate, morning sickness can hit at any time. For some women this lasts only briefly but for some it can last the whole pregnancy. It can be unpleasant but is not usually dangerous. There are many natural ways to alleviate morning sickness, and make your day more bearable.
NOTE: Always make sure your doctor or midwife is aware of your situation. Vomiting during pregnancy can lead to dehydration and malnutrition if it continues long enough. In some cases it may be an unrelated illness and should be investigated.
What Causes Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness is partially caused by the many hormonal changes occurring in your body.
- HCG (Human chorionic gonadotropin): This hormone rises quickly in the first trimester and levels off by week 12, which is why a lot of women feel better by this time.
- Estrogen: This hormone also rises rapidly in early pregnancy and levels off by week 12. It is believed that estrogen plays a part in heightened sense of smell as well; certain aromas instantly trigger the gag reflex.
Ways to Ease Morning Sickness
- If you’re hungry, eat!: Never allow your stomach to be fully empty. Eating small meals throughout the day will help keep your blood sugar from dipping too low and triggering nausea. Try eating carbohydrates before you get out of bed (crackers, toast, dried fruit, popcorn, granola bars, etc.).
- Protein: Protein is the best source of sustained energy and will be one of your biggest friends when preventing nausea. Eat some just before bed to avoid feeling queasy in the morning.
- Complex Carbohydrates: Avoid refined grains and simple carbs like pasta and sugar. These foods not only have little nutrition but can lead to low blood sugar. Enjoy whole wheat pastas, breads, and other whole grains.
- Drink: Dehydration is a major cause of nausea. Aim for 2.5 liters of water, unsweetened juices, and herbal teas.
- Avoid foods that can cause gas and bloating. Drinking carbonated beverages can help get rid of stomach gas.
- Avoid sucking on hard candies on an empty stomach. Although this may temporarily relieve your nausea, the digestive juices you stimulate could make matters a lot worse.
Herbs & Supplements
- Avoid taking your supplements on an empty stomach.
- Herbs. There are a variety of herbs that can help with nausea like dandelion root, wild yam, vitex, false unicorn, and black horehound. Find someone knowledgeable in the use of herbs during pregnancy to instruct you in their safe use.
- Ginger has has been clinically proven to relieve nausea. Take 250 mg three to four times per day in capsule form (do not exceed 1 g) or drink 5-6 cups of ginger tea throughout the day.
- Digestive teas such as fennel and spearmint may also be of benefit if indigestion leads to your nausea.
- Acupressure: ‘Seabands’ are designed to offset motion sickness. They firmly press an acupressure site that lies 1/6th of the way between your wrist and elbow, in the middle of the inner side of your forearm.
- Vitamin B6: Taking 25 mg of B6 throughout the day (do not exceeding 150 mg.) may help ‘shut off’ the nausea ‘control-center’ in your brain. Many women are deficient in B vitamins at the onset of pregnancy, especially those who were previously on oral contraceptives.
- Homeopathics: Try remedies such as nux vomica, ipecac, and sepia.
- Make sure you sleep when you’re tired: Exhaustion can aggravate nausea, and baby-making is tiring work!
- Indigestion: Try using digestive enzymes such as papain and bromelain at mealtime to aid digestion.
- Keep active: CO2 buildup in the blood can contribute to nausea, which can be reduced with the help of cardio activity.
- Aromatherapy: Many essential oils are not to be used during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. However lavender oil, when inhaled, may help relieve nausea.
- Avoid smells, tastes, and textures that trigger your nausea.
Most of all, enjoy your pregnancy! you’re building a life and the trying times of morning sickness will soon come to an end.