Although they call it “morning sickness,” not every woman who is pregnant has it in the morning. Some may experience nausea all day, or in the afternoon, and there are even those who wake up in the middle of the night and throw up! The good news is that it usually does pass by the end of the first trimester, which is 13 weeks, so hopefully you will feel better soon. The most important thing is to avoid getting dehydrated!
What Causes Nausea in Pregnancy?
Hormonal shifts during the first trimester decrease the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. This can lead to poor functioning of muscles that move food along the digestive tract, which in turn can lead to the nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Digestive enzymes may help. A good brand is AbsorbAid from Nature’s Sources – 847-663-9168. Some women find relief by taking papaya tablets to aid digestion.
Helpful Do’s and Don’ts
- Eat small meals throughout the day and a protein snack at night.
- Drink fluids 1/2 hour before or after a meal, but not with meals.
- Drink small amounts of fluids during the day to avoid dehydration.
- Eat soda crackers 15 minutes before getting up in the morning.
- Eat whatever you feel like eating, whenever you feel you can.
- Ask someone else to cook for you and open the windows or turn on fans if odors bother you.
- Avoid warm places (feeling hot adds to nausea).
- Acidophilus may help by balancing the intestinal ph.
- Get plenty of rest and nap during the day.
- Do not lie down after eating.
- Do not skip meals.
- Do not let this condition go untreated.
The best way to alleviate morning sickness is to get plenty of rest and to eat several small, easily digested meals, since nausea typically starts on an empty stomach. When you find something that you can eat, then eat it and don’t worry too much about having a perfect diet right now. When you can keep something down, eat some bland protein. Some women don’t gain weight in the first few months and some even lose weight. Don’t worry, they still have healthy babies. When you feel, better the baby will make up for lost time. It may be that you have strong hormones and nausea is a good sign that you will not miscarry.
Foods that May Help
- Miso soup is a good one to try. It is predigested, so it is easy on your stomach and it helps to keep your system from being too acidic.
- Salty or sour foods may be less likely to upset your stomach. Try olives or umbeboshi plumbs (just nibble on the plumbs or lick them).
- Eat salty potato chips ( they have been found to settle stomachs enough to eat a meal).
- Eat baked or steamed sweet potato with salt (to taste).
- Try high protein snacks, like hard-boiled egg, strips of organic chicken, yogurt, or nuts, especially before going to bed or upon awakening at night.
- Keep raw almonds handy to snack on. You can soak them overnight in water; this makes them easier to digest.
- Cucumber may help. If you have a juicer, try some cucumber juice.
- Enjoy fresh fruit, especially watermelon. Dried blueberries are also said to be good for nausea.
- Sniff lemons. Suck on a lemon. Drink lemonade.
- Rujak Sehat a favorite recipe from Ibu Robin Lim and Asian great-grandmothers.
- If your nutrition is poor, the nausea will be more acute.
- Do not cook or eat spicy food.
- Avoid foods or smells that make you sick.
- Avoid deep fried foods.
- Avoid ‘junk’ foods like snacks made with white sugar and white flour.
- Instant noodle soups that contain MSG, are not a healthy food choice.
More about Saltines in the Morning
Get some saltine crackers and put them next to your bed. In the morning before you lift your head off your pillow, eat a cracker. If you keep that down eat another. Go slow and chew well and you will digest it better. Stay in bed for 15 minutes or longer. When you feel like you can sit up, sit up slowly. Take some sips of water. Advance to other foods as you are able.
- Vitamin K is often low during pregnancy and an injection of this vitamin can help stop intractable vomiting.
- Vitamin B6 – 50mg is considered a recommended dosage for combating nausea.
There is a form of B6 called TrueB6 that is more usable by the body that you can get from a company called BIOS Biochemicals Corp. 800-404-8185
- P5PNiacin – 200 to 300 mg has helped some women.
You may not be able to take a prenatal vitamin at this time if it makes you nauseous. During the first trimester the baby is small and doesn’t need a lot of vitamins yet. If you do take them, never take them on an empty stomach! One thing that can work is to try taking your vitamins at night before bed.
Ginger is great for digestion and for nausea. You can take capsules, nipple on candied ginger, or sip ginger tea. If the capsules do not work, they may not be fresh. Purchase some fresh ginger root from the store, then slice it thin and dry in a dehydrator, a 200 degree oven, or in the sun. Grind the dried ginger into a powder (a blender van work for this) and put in capsules yourself. You can purchase empty gel caps and a small device to aid in filling them online or at your local health and nutrition store. Take up to 4 capsules at a time, 4 times a day if necessary.
Other Herbs to consider:
- Inhale orange oil or peppermint oil.
Young Living Essential Oils has good quality essential oils and they have one called Di-Tone that is good for nausea. 800-371-2928
- A very dilute amount of peppermint oil can be rubbed onto the stomach.
- Combine fennel, peppermint, and cardamom in warm milk.
- Catnip tea
Stomach Soothing Complex #20601 from Shaklee is a combination of herbs containing peppermint, ginger, fennel and anise that are helpful. 800-742-5533
Homeopathy and Acupuncture
Homeopathy, Cranial Sacral, Chiropractic therapies and Acupuncture are often very effective in turning severe pregnancy nausea around. Look for a trained professional to help you.
“Sea bands” are like a watch band or bracelet that pushes on a pressure point found on the wrist said to relieve nausea. Pharmacies often sell them. As it seems to be for all solutions that relieve nausea, the bands work for some people and not others.
Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, October 2000;20(4):273-279.
A randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study found that stimulating acupuncture point PC6 helps ease nausea and vomiting. Thirty-three women (average age 28.4 years) were divided into two groups. Group A received deep needle insertion at the PC6 point on both forearms three times per day for 30 minutes. Group B received a form of placebo acupuncture, with a needle inserted superficially approximately four inches above the wrist on each arm.
On days one and two of the eight-day study, each group received their treatments; after two more days of no treatment, the procedures were switched for each group. Each day, the women rated degree of nausea and recorded instances of vomiting. Those women given active acupuncture experienced a “significantly faster reduction of nausea” compared with those who received a placebo. This reduction was seen in both groups; identical results were seen in each group when the treatment was switched. The incidence of vomiting was also reduced in both groups, with a much greater reduction seen in those receiving active acupuncture. Daily vomiting had been reported by all 22 women at the study onset; by day three less than half of the women in the active group were still vomiting compared with 75% of those in the placebo group.
Scientists aren’t sure why walking alleviates nausea – they just know it does. It could be that a moderate walk shunts blood away from the stomach area and out to the limbs, where it’s needed for movement. Whether you’re up for a long, short, fast or slow walk, it can help to just get outside for some fresh air. If the weather is not good for going outdoors, you can also try a treadmill. Start out at a gentle pace for just five or 10 minutes and see how it feels. If you feel better, continue for up to 30 minutes more. However if your nausea continues to become worse, it may be time to contact your care provider.
The horror story brought about by the drug thalidomide, prescribed for morning sickness in the 1950’s and 60’s that was later discovered to cause severe birth defects, makes many women extra cautious or even reluctant to seek medical solutions to relieve nausea during pregnancy. However severe morning sickness (hyperemesis gravidarum) can lead to dehydration or malnutrition for the mother and the baby, and if unresolved, can result in hospitalization.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) has issued guidelines for physicians on prevention and treatment of nausea, and wants women to know there are treatments available that it considers to be safe .
Taking a multivitamin at the time of conception, and taking vitamin B6 alone or combined with doxylamine, an antihistamine, has been found to be effective for combating nausea and vomiting. The ACOG considers antihistamine a safe method for treating morning sickness, providing the treatment has been prescribed and is being monitored by a CNM or OBGYN.
The ACOG also suggests taking Antihistamine H1 receptor blockers, phenothiazines, and benzamines. In very severe cases, treatment with methylprednisolone (a steroid) has been used, but this can potentially cause harm or damage to the fetus and should only be considered when both the health of the mother and baby are threatened due to extreme dehydration. Again, any treatments involving the use of clinical drugs must be prescribed and monitored by a CNM or OBGYN.
Rujak Sehat: A recipe from Ibu Robin Lim
Rujak Sehat is a favorite recipe from our Asian great-grandmothers. Rujak is very nutritious, full of vitamins and it helps relieve pregnancy nausea.
Sauce: Diramas… kneed together with pure water:
- Tamarind paste – aka Lunak (seeds and bits of shell removed/ strained out)
- Palm sugar – aka gula Bali (also Mexican brown sugar, or use your local natural sugar)
- Small chili peppers, use the mild kind, aka Cabe rawit kecil – dice very gently small
- Salt to taste
Peel and cut into bite sized pieces any of the following fruits or vegetables to be dipped in the sauce:
- Green mango
- Jicama aka bankuang or singkamas
- Apple and/or pear
- Ripe pineapple
- Sweet orange or tangerine – Peel and divide into sections.
- Cucumber – peeled and sliced thinly
Rujak is best enjoyed with friends and family, sitting around the kitchen table, dipping and talking and eating.
More Serious than Morning Sickness?
Nausea and vomiting can be caused by the flu, food poisoning, gallbladder disease or appendicitis. See a doctor if your nausea includes any of these symptoms:
- Abdominal pain or lower abdominal cramping
- Inability to keep any food down for two consecutive meals
- Inability to keep fluids down for four hours
- Presence of blood or anything resembling coffee grounds in your vomit, urine, stool or vaginal secretions
- Weight loss of more than two pounds
- Inability to urinate for six hours
- A fever greater than 101.5 degrees