Morning sickness is one of the most well-known symptoms of early pregnancy, affecting around 70-80% of expectant mothers. Characterized by feelings of nausea and vomiting, this unpleasant condition can put a damper on the joy of pregnancy for many women. While the exact causes are unknown, morning sickness is thought to be triggered by the hormonal changes of pregnancy. Fortunately, there are many methods pregnant women can try to prevent or reduce bothersome morning sickness. With the right strategies, you may be able to sail through those early pregnancy months with minimal nausea or vomiting.
Key Takeaways: Preventing Morning Sickness
- Eat small, frequent meals and snacks containing bland, low-fat, high protein foods. Avoid spicy, greasy foods.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids like water, ginger ale, mint tea. Limit caffeinated beverages.
- Take vitamin B6 and ginger supplements which may reduce nausea.
- Use essential oils like lemon, lavender, peppermint to alleviate queasiness.
- Practice relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing.
- Identify and avoid triggers like certain smells that worsen nausea.
- Get adequate rest and sleep. Take naps or lie down when nausea strikes.
- Ask your doctor about taking anti-nausea medication if symptoms persist.
Dietary Tips to Minimize Nausea
One of the most important ways to curb morning sickness is to follow a nausea-friendly diet. Making smart food choices can significantly reduce queasiness and vomiting episodes. Here are some dietary tips to tame an unsettled tummy:
Eat Small, Frequent Meals
Rather than three large meals, opt for five or six smaller meals spaced evenly throughout the day. Eating smaller portions puts less pressure on your digestive system. An empty stomach can trigger nausea, so snacks are essential.
Choose Simple, Low-Fat Foods
Go for bland, mild, low-fat foods that are easy on the stomach. Great choices include plain toast, crackers, oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, rice, potatoes, soup, applesauce, bananas, and cooked vegetables. Avoid heavy, greasy, and overly rich foods which take longer to digest.
Eat Protein-Rich Foods
Protein provides lasting energy and keeps blood sugar stable, which can reduce nausea. Good protein sources include nuts, peanut butter, eggs, cheese, lean meats, beans, tofu, and Greek yogurt. Pair proteins with crackers or fruit.
Avoid Spicy or Fatty Foods
Spicy seasonings like hot sauce or chili powder and fatty foods like fried items can further irritate the stomach. Stick to blander flavors and cooking methods like baking, grilling, or steaming.
Eat Cold or Room Temperature Foods
Very hot or very cold foods can trigger nausea in pregnancy. Allow foods to cool to room temp or warm up colder items before eating.
Try Ginger and Lemons
Ginger and lemon have anti-nausea properties. Sip on ginger tea, ginger ale, or lemonade. Add lemon to water or suck on lemon drops. Use ginger in cooking.
Have Pre-Bedtime Snacks
Before going to bed, eat a small snack like whole grain crackers to keep blood sugar stable and prevent morning nausea. Keep crackers by the bed to nibble before getting up.
Staying Hydrated Reduces Morning Sickness
Dehydration can worsen pregnancy nausea and vomiting. Drinking adequate fluids is key to reducing morning sickness:
- Drink 6-8 cups of fluids daily – Water, herbal tea, diluted fruit juice, ginger ale, lemonade, mint tea, electrolyte drinks.
- Sip slowly – Gulping large amounts can upset the stomach. Take small sips.
- Avoid caffeine – Coffee, soda, and caffeinated teas can trigger nausea.
- Try ice chips – For severe nausea and vomiting, sucking ice chips can provide hydration without overfilling the stomach.
- Use lemon or mint – Add lemon or mint to water for a refreshing anti-nausea drink.
- Stay hydrated at night – Drink fluids throughout the day and overnight to avoid dehydration. Keep water by the bed.
Proper hydration provides nutrients, prevents constipation, and keeps morning sickness at bay. Drink up!
The Role of Prenatal Vitamins
Taking a daily prenatal vitamin before and during pregnancy is highly recommended. Prenatal vitamins provide essential nutrients for mom and baby and may help reduce morning sickness.
Start Before Pregnancy
Ideally, women should begin taking prenatals at least three months before trying to conceive. Starting supplements ahead of pregnancy allows key nutrients like folic acid to build up.
Choose High-Quality Brands
Select reputable brands that contain 100% of the recommended daily amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. Your OB/GYN can provide recommendations.
Take With Food
Prenatals on an empty stomach can induce nausea. Take your vitamin with a meal or snack.
B6 for Morning Sickness Relief
Prenatals containing vitamin B6 may ease morning sickness. B6 helps form neurotransmitters that regulate nausea.
**Consider Splitting the Dose **
If one vitamin makes you queasy, try taking half in the morning and half in the evening.
Ask Your Doctor First
Always consult your OB/GYN prior to taking any supplements, especially during the first trimester.
When taken properly, prenatal vitamins provide nutrition for mom and baby while potentially lessening morning sickness woes.
Lifestyle Adjustments to Prevent Morning Sickness
Along with diet, hydration, and vitamins, making certain lifestyle changes can help minimize morning sickness episodes:
Get Plenty of Rest
Fatigue exacerbates nausea, so rest is essential. Take daily naps or lie down when nausea strikes. Go to bed early and sleep at least 8 hours nightly.
Light to moderate exercise boosts endorphins and energy levels. Avoid intense workouts which can worsen nausea. Walking, swimming, and prenatal yoga are great options.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Stress and anxiety aggravate morning sickness. Try yoga, meditation, deep breathing, journaling, long baths, visualization, and prenatal massage to relax.
Wear Acupressure Wristbands
Sea-Bands apply pressure to the P6 acupressure point on the inner wrist, helping to relieve nausea. These drug-free bands are safe during pregnancy.
Avoid Nausea Triggers
Determine smells or activities that worsen your nausea, like cooking odors or brushing your teeth, and avoid them. Ask others not to wear strong fragrances around you.
Get Fresh Air
Stuffy indoor environments can trigger nausea. Open windows regularly for fresh air. Spend time outdoors when possible.
Have Help With Chores
Don’t push yourself to do household tasks that require extensive bending or chemicals that induce nausea. Ask your partner or friends for help.
Natural Remedies for Morning Sickness Relief
In addition to diet and lifestyle measures, there are many natural remedies believed to help relieve pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting:
A time-tested natural anti-nausea aid, ginger can be consumed as capsules, tea, sparkling water, candies, or added to food. The recommended dosage is 250 mg, four times per day.
The soothing properties of peppermint may ease an upset stomach. Try peppermint tea, peppermint hard candies, or peppermint essential oils.
Lemon Essential Oil
Rubbing lemon essential oil on the wrists or inhaling lemon oil may help reduce nausea. Always dilute in a carrier oil before applying to skin.
Applying pressure to the inner wrist P6 point with wristbands or acupuncture can alleviate morning sickness.
Studies show the vitamin B6 supplement pyridoxine hydrochloride reduces nausea and vomiting in pregnancy when taken with a doctor’s approval.
A combination B-vitamin supplement may be more effective at controlling morning sickness than vitamin B6 alone.
Eating small protein snacks every 2-3 hours helps maintain stable blood sugar levels, preventing nausea dips.
Frequent Small Meals
As mentioned, eating five or six small meals instead of three large ones each day puts less strain on digestion, reducing nausea.
Keep exploring natural remedies, as their effectiveness tends to vary by each mom. Always ask your OB/GYN before taking any herbals or supplements.
Anti-Nausea Medications During Pregnancy
For moderate to severe morning sickness that isn’t relieved by lifestyle measures or natural remedies, prescription anti-nausea medications may be an option under close medical supervision.
Types of Medications
Common anti-nausea drugs prescribed in pregnancy include Diclegi (delayed release), Reglan, Compazine, Zofran, Phenadoz (rectal suppository), Emend (IV).
No medication completely eliminates nausea in all pregnant women. Dosage and timing may need adjustment to control symptoms. Discuss options thoroughly with your OB/GYN.
Weigh Benefits Against Risks
While generally considered safe for short-term use, there are potential side effects of anti-nausea meds to consider. Your doctor can advise if medication is appropriate for your situation.
May Be Used As Last Resort
Most doctors recommend trying lifestyle changes, natural remedies, and adequate fluids first, before resorting to prescription anti-nausea medication.
If you have attempted self-care measures without relief from severe morning sickness, talk to your OB/GYN about whether an anti-nausea medication may be beneficial and safe for you. Do not take any medication without your doctor’s consent.
When to Seek Medical Care
Most cases of morning sickness resolve by weeks 14-16 of pregnancy without medical treatment. However, contact your OB/GYN right away if you experience:
- Persistent vomiting with inability to keep down any food or liquids
- Vomiting numerous times per day
- Dark urine, dizziness, racing heart rate (signs of dehydration)
- Weight loss of more than 5 lbs
- Yellowing skin or eyes (possible liver issue)
- Severe abdominal pain
- Vomiting blood
These can be signs of hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), a more dangerous form of morning sickness requiring medical treatment and possible hospitalization to restore fluid and nutrition.
Don’t tough it out alone. Your OB/GYN can provide medication and IV fluids to get HG under control. Call your doctor’s office if symptoms don’t improve or you can’t keep anything down. Getting dehydrated can harm both you and baby.
Helpful Morning Sickness FAQs
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about preventing and managing morning sickness:
Can you completely prevent morning sickness?
There is no guaranteed way to fully prevent morning sickness. Since the exact causes are unknown, nausea during pregnancy is hard to avoid. However, following a healthy diet, staying hydrated, and using natural remedies can help minimize symptoms.
What foods are good for alleviating morning nausea?
Simple carbohydrates like toast, crackers, plain oatmeal, rice, and potatoes can help settle an upset stomach. Other good choices are yogurt, soup, applesauce, bananas, peanut butter, lean proteins, and vegetables. Avoid spicy, fatty, and fried foods.
Do prenatal vitamins help with morning sickness?
Prenatal vitamins ensure you get sufficient nutrients for you and baby. Those containing vitamin B6 may help reduce nausea. Check with your doctor to see if your prenatal is right for you. Starting them before pregnancy allows B6 to build up in your system.
Can aromatherapy or essential oils reduce morning sickness?
Yes, some women find aromatherapy using lemon, peppermint, ginger, and lavender essential oils helps minimize nausea when applied topically or inhaled. Always dilute oils properly before use. Essential oils are not a substitute for medical treatment with severe nausea and vomiting.
What are some effective natural remedies for morning sickness?
Ginger, vitamin B6, protein snacks, lemon essential oil, peppermint tea, acupressure wristbands, and b-complex vitamins may provide relief from pregnancy nausea when used in moderation. There is limited evidence overall so discuss any natural remedies with your OB/GYN first. Stay hydrated and consult your doctor if symptoms persist.
The Bottom Line
Morning sickness affects up to 80% of pregnant women but thankfully there are many ways you can help prevent or minimize it. Pay attention to your diet, hydration, rest, triggers, natural remedies, and medications under a doctor’s supervision. While not entirely avoidable, nausea and vomiting don’t have to dominate your pregnancy. Relief is possible with the right combination of lifestyle adjustments, nutrition, and asking your OB/GYN for help when needed. With these tips, you can reduce morning sickness and enjoy a healthier, more comfortable pregnancy journey.