Dealing with nausea during pregnancy is no easy task. After all, the exact cause of nausea or morning sickness has not been defined. For many women, nausea does not just present itself in the morning but throughout the entire day. The term morning sickness can be deceiving. Some theories suggest that it is caused by the hormonal flood that occurs during pregnancy. And that is just one theory.
Around 80% of pregnant women suffer from nausea—especially during the first trimester1. Your nausea will most likely be the most intolerable between week 6 and week 12. However, nausea can continue until the 20-week mark. And for 20% of women, nausea will persist throughout the pregnancy1. With this in mind, you will want to consider multiple methods for reducing nausea.
Your OBGYN can offer you medications to help your nausea. However, he/she will most likely suggest you try other natural methods first. Controlling your nausea has a lot to do with what you put in your body. Don’t force yourself to eat things that don’t sound good to you. If you are sensitive to a certain food-based smell, it is probably best to stay away from it.
However, simply avoiding the foods that make you sick still might not curb your nausea and vomiting. Here are a few options to help with your nausea before you turn to medication.
Whether taking a ginger pill or drinking ginger tea (always choose non-caffeinated) or ginger ale, ginger can be an effective way to calm pregnancy-induced nausea. You can also try
- Nibbling on gingerbread or gingersnaps
- Sucking on ginger candies
- Making ginger ale or ginger tea ice cubes or popsicles2,3.
The great thing about ginger is it is typically inexpensive and is recognized as safe. However, do not exceed 1000mg per day4. Your OBGYN may even suggest you take ginger before trying a prescribed medication.
Peppermint is known to help soothe an upset stomach during many conditions, including pregnancy, IBS, or simple indigestion. During pregnancy, some studies suggest that while mint did not eradicate pregnancy-induced nausea, it did reduce the intensity of nausea5.
Peppermint can be obtained in many ways such as aromatherapy, peppermint candies, and peppermint tea.
This B vitamin has been shown to have positive effects on pregnancy-induced nausea.
Research shows that taking vitamin B6 greatly improves nausea for many pregnant women4. Vitamin B6 (100 mg or less daily) has been shown to ease symptoms of morning sickness. Many healthcare providers recommend trying it first before trying other medicines6.
Vitamin B6 not only helps with nausea but has other benefits during pregnancy. It is suggested that vitamin B6 may play a role in reducing preeclampsia and preterm birth7. One study demonstrated that vitamin B6 taken orally may be effective in reducing nausea8. Ask your OBGYN about taking a daily dose of vitamin B6.
- Avoid greasy and spicy foods. If you don’t like the smell, it probably won’t sit well in your stomach. Bland carbohydrates, like crackers to cereal, can help. Bland foods, like baked potatoes, should always be a go-to.
- Take your prenatal supplements in the middle of a meal and not on an empty stomach.
- Eat smaller meals and avoid getting too full or not full enough.
- Keep cut up fruits and veggies in the fridge for a quick snack when you feel well enough to eat9.
If you find that you cannot keep anything down, consult your physician immediately. Getting on top of your symptoms can be tricky. Not only does nausea affect you physically but can take a toll on your family, social, or occupational responsibilities (1). Always consult with your physicians about the options you have. And if you have tried every natural, non-medicinal method, your OBGYN can supply other methods.
1- L, Allue J. The Effectiveness of Ginger in the Prevention of Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy and Chemotherapy. Integrative Medicine Insights. January 2016:11-17
2- Ginger for Morning Sickness. Morning Sickness Help. http://www.morningsicknesshelp.com/ginger-morning-sickness-2.html. Published September 8, 2013.
3- Treatment and outcome of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Judith A Smith, PharmD, BCOP, CPHQ, FCCP, FISOPP, Jerrie S Refuerzo, MD,Susan M Ramin, MD. Last updated October 2016. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/treatment-and-outcome-of-nausea-and-vomiting-of-pregnancy?source=search_result&search=morning%20sickness&selectedTitle=1~130)
4- Ginger for Morning Sickness-Topic Overview. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/baby/tc/ginger-for-morning-sickness-topic-overview.
5- Pasha H, Behmanesh F, Mohsenzadeh F, Hajahmadi M, Moghadamnia AA. Study of the Effect of Mint Oil on Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal. 2012;14(11):744. doi:10.5812/ircmj.3477.
6- Morning Sickness. Review Date 11/19/2014. Updated by: Cynthia D. White, MD, Fellow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Group Health Cooperative, Bellevue, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000604.htm
7- Salam RA, Zuberi NJ, Bhutta ZA. Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) supplementation during pregnancy or labour for maternal and neonatal outcomes. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2015 Jun 3;6:CD000179.)
8-Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine). University of Maryland Medical Center. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b6-pyridoxine.
9- Morning Sickness Misery. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/morning-sickness-misery#4.