Women's Health

Easing Nausea during Pregnancy: 6 Tips

Morning sickness can happen any time

The name is a lie. The term “morning sickness” really is misleading. It’s one of the first pregnancy truths experienced by new moms as they learn what to expect while expecting.

In reality, that nauseous, queasy feeling which sometimes leads to vomiting can happen any time of day. It’s just one of the many changes nearly 90 percent of women – including many of my patients – experience during pregnancy, and there’s not much that health care providers can do to predict or prevent it.

Who is likely to develop nausea?

The women most likely to experience nausea during pregnancy are younger and having their first babies. Their mothers also likely had a rough time with morning sickness. It generally starts when women are five to six weeks pregnant and lasts about six weeks, although some lucky women feel nauseous through their entire pregnancy. 

As for what causes the nausea, no one really knows for sure. It could be the body’s response to stress or hormone fluctuations due to pregnancy, the stretching of abdominal walls or the increase in progesterone which slows down gastric motility. There’s a heightened sense of smell which adds to the equation, and it’s also safe to say that women who already suffer from acid reflux are more likely to have severe nausea, vomiting and heartburn.

So what can you do about it? 

While there is no tell-tale cure, I do have a list of recommendations:

  1. Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. Many of us are used to three big meals and some snacks in between, but that is not the game when you are pregnant. Instead, eat tiny meals all day long. I often tell my patients with morning sickness to eat some crackers or raisins before they even get out of bed or into the shower. 
  2. Avoid food or smell triggers. If you can’t tolerate a certain taste or smell, get rid of it, and avoid strong smells or spices for a little while. Bland foods – crackers, toast, etc. – are generally best. If you feel like all you can eat is popcorn and string cheese, then eat popcorn and string cheese. Being on a specific diet for a few weeks will not harm your baby.  
  3. Separate drinking from eating. Drink something either 30 minutes before or after eating to avoid that really full feeling. When it comes to beverages, clear and carbonated liquids tend to be best.  
  4. Try an acupressure band. Worn approximately 3 finger-widths above the wrist, acupressure bands have been known to alleviate nausea. These small bands can be purchased over the counter at many local pharmacies.
  5. Eat foods rich in ginger. Many scientific studies have shown that eating ginger can reduce nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Try things such as ginger ale, ginger tea, ginger snaps or other foods made with ginger.
  6. Take prenatal vitamins at night and add B6. Prenatal vitamins can upset your stomach, so take them in the evenings until you feel better. Consider a brand that is coated or chewable and take them with a meal. Some studies link Vitamin B6 to stress reduction and nausea relief, so it won’t hurt to add a little to your vitamin routine. A tip for those who are still trying to become pregnant: Starting a prenatal vitamin before conceiving may make you less likely to have nausea from the vitamin once you are pregnant.

If you can’t tolerate food or water for 24 to 48 hours, or if you lose the ability to urinate, you need to immediately contact your OB/GYN or one of the health care professionals at Methodist Physicians Clinic

About the Author

Dr. Emily Lange says the thrill of delivering babies never gets old, and neither does helping women with their most intimate care needs. 

"So many women relate their health care needs to their family and community needs," said Dr. Lange, "and I enjoy having that conversation with them as well as providing their medical care."

You can begin your conversation with Dr. Lange today at Methodist Physicians Clinic located within Methodist Jennie Edmundson Medical Plaza.

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