How to Relieve Morning Sickness : Advice From Moms Who've Been There
I'm just like you, consulting Dr. Google before consulting my actual doctor. Just a reminder though, I'm not a doctor at all, and anything you read here shouldn't be considered medical advice—just some tried and true wisdom and opinions from moms who've been there!
Four years ago, after experiencing tidal waves of nausea and dizziness at totally random moments I knew it was time to take a pregnancy test. Those first intense episodes of morning sickness were my first clue that a little babe was on her way, just like in the movies. But once I took the test, confirmed my suspicions, and told my closest friends the good news I figured that also just like the movies, the queasiness and light headed feelings would subside into a warm glow of maternal bliss and preparation.
Nope. As the days wore on into weeks I was puking basically left and right - literally, had to have a waste basket on either side of wherever I was hanging onto life by a dwindling thread. In my case, my morning sickness had transformed into something more sinister, a condition of pregnancy called hyperemesis gravidarum.
Still, talking to other friends and family who were also in the throes of their first trimester, I realized that regardless of intensity, most pregnant women experience at least some level of morning sickness from weeks 6-14 of their pregnancies. In this window of time, many women are still waiting on their first prenatal appointment, trying to keep up with their pre-pregnancy lives, and adjusting to the idea of becoming a mom for the first time, or adding to the brood. It's a lot. And morning sickness can make it feel totally overwhelming.
So, before you check out these tips to ease morning sickness from real moms, I want to tell you that it does get better, you will feel better and in the bad days, there'll be good one sprinkled in. Pregnancy is a temporary state, and morning sickness even more so. Hang in there, grab a Preggie Pop or some Tummydrops, and read on for some commiseration and a few tips on how to ease morning sickness, from mom's who've been there.
What Are The Symptoms of Morning Sickness?
Symptoms of morning sickness can and often do include:
- Feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness. This is usually due to a combination of lowered blood pressure and low blood sugar. Remember to drink extra fluids and snack on protein-rich foods to help counteract these yucky symptoms.
- Intense nausea.
- Food aversions.
- Vomiting. This can come out of nowhere or be triggered by smells, meals, or even just a gross thought.
Exercise to Relieve Morning Sickness
Toss the FitBit into your lowest nightstand drawer because if you're dealing with morning sickness, you're probably not going to be counting steps for a while. Still, if and when you can manage, get outside for a breath of fresh air and a quick walk to stretch your legs, soak in some sun, and get your mind off of this temporary misery, even if it's just hauling the kitchen trash across the driveway to the dumpster or fetching your mail.
Why Does Everything Gross Me Out When I'm Pregnant?
No one really knows. It's a bummer answer, but it's the truth. All that's really understood about morning sickness is that it's likely caused by the surge of hormones and drastic physical changes (like lowered blood pressure) your body experiences during that crucial first-trimester of pregnancy.
Your body is doing a lot, you know, producing another body, so I guess it makes sense for it feel less-than-stellar for a while.
Try to eat small meals often to keep your stomach full and crack the nearest window when you're cooking. If you can't stand to cook, stock up on ready made snacks and meals and send someone else to do the grocery shopping or subscribe to a grocery delivery service until you feel better (or, you know, forever).
Carbs for Nausea Relief
When all else fails: carbs. And I don't just mean saltines, which didn't work great for me. You can't live off carbs alone. But, you can survive the throes of morning sickness with the help of carbs which can help fill up your stomach enough to calm the queasies.
Some ideas for carby snacks that AREN'T saltines:
- goldfish crackers
- plain buttered noodles
- buttered english muffin or english muffin style toast
- graham crackers
- plain popcorn (kernels popped in a stove top popcorn popper with just a little coconut or canola oil will help you to control the flavor and keep it as bland as possible)
- Whole wheat or white pita bread
- dry cereal like Cheerios or Chex
- roasted chickpeas
- pretzel sticks
- soft pretzels (found in the frozen food section)
- potato chips
- banana chips
- shoestring potato snacks
- Sensible Portion's Veggie Straws
- unflavored rice cakes
- plain or buttered instant rice
- granola bars (I love the regular NatureValley kind)
- tortilla chips
- pork rinds (yeah)
If you find yourself feeling well enough to live it up a little add a few tablespoons of nut butter, a slice of cheddar cheese, or even a dollop of plain hummus to round out these carbs with some protein for a more complete and filling snack.
How Long Does Morning Sickness Actually Last?
It varies. There's no one answer. For some women it comes and goes for a few weeks, for others, the nausea is unrelenting for months on end, and for a rare few it can last the entire pregnancy. In my own experience, I suffered from severe, debilitating nausea and vomiting for the entirety of both my first trimesters, with my symptoms improving greatly into the second trimester. Still, I had bouts of nausea, and even vomiting throughout.
Giving into Those Sweet (or Salty!) Pregnancy Cravings
If you're craving chocolate cake, eat the cake. If you're way into your kids' fish-shaped crackers, steal the box and let him have the bag of carrot sticks sitting lonely in the crisper. Because what's worse than eating an unhealthy diet during pregnancy is just not eating at all.
So, the advice here is to eat whatever you can stomach. Morning sickness usually dictates what you're able to even think about, yet alone digest. Lots of women find that carbs are the easiest thing to keep down. For me, with both pregnancies, I've found luck with:
- saltine crackers
- sharp cheddar cheese
- plain noodles
- sports drinks
- sometimes freezer pops
Each pregnancy is so different though. In my first, I could eat pineapple even when nothing else would stay down. In my second pregnancy, I had absolutely no interest. In my first I couldn't stomach meat for the first four months. With my second I ate chicken frequently.
An important thing to keep in mine is how much throwing up a particular food might suck. Case in point: apples. They really hurt! The little skins turn into these weird, awful, shrapnel-like razors coming back up. So if you're pretty sure you're not going to keep it down, and it would be a total bummer to throw up, opt for something less painful/suffocating. Oatmeal was also tricky - and thick.
Obviously, you're not going to be getting the full spectrum of nutrition while you battle your way through morning sickness. Don't worry about that right now. Focus on eating what you can, when you can, and don't get down about what you're missing. You'll make up for it later.
Kiss Caffeine Goodbye for Relief From Pregnancy Induced Vertigo and Nausea
I'm so sorry. But your morning cup of coffee probably isn't helping things. I can't give you an absolute reason why, since it seems like no one really knows, but in many women, caffeine can aggravate an upset stomach, nausea, and anxiety which are already heightened during pregnancy.
What can you sip on instead? Try a warm cup of caffeine free tea like chamomile, mint, or ginger which are all safe for pregnancy and can be helpful in easing morning sickness nausea.
How Much Puking is Normal When You're Pregnant?
Not every woman will experience this super-fun symptom of morning sickness, but more often than not, you will, whether it's just a few times in the course of the first trimester or daily, it's pretty common to succumb to the porcelain god.
So what's normal?
There is no normal. Symptoms can go back and forth--surging one day and subsiding the next. You may find yourself getting sick five times in one day and only once the next. Sometimes symptoms may disappear altogether only to return days later with avengence. This is what's so frustrating about morning sickness.
Should You Really Switch to a Gummy Prenatal instead of a Regular Vitamin?
With my first kid, just smelling the bottle of vitamins sent my stomach lurching. Which is weird, because I'm not an easily grossed out person, especially now that I have two kids. Poop, puke, and pee are a part of my everyday and just this morning I found marshmallow melted into my daughter's sheets. Yum!
Oftentimes, a woman's prenatal vitamins can make morning sickness even worse. That's because prenatal vitamins contain a whole lot of iron which can cause constipation and nausea. If this is the case for you then yes, you should absolutely try switching to a children's multi-vitamin and take the recommended adult dosage (I took Flintstone's Complete for the first half of my first pregnancy). You'll get a good balance of nutrients without the added iron. Iron is an important nutrient for pregnant women and the little one's growing inside them, however, you can get a sufficient amount of iron from your diet without consuming it in the excess that prenatals provide.
Alongside this switch, midwives and doctors usually recommend 150 mg of vitamin B6 a day taken in three doses (you can cut the vitamins at home) to boost your ever-waning energy levels.
As your sickness eases you can switch back to a regular prenatal or look for a gummy prenatal with iron.
If switching to an iron-free prenatal isn't helping enough (or at all) ring up your OB's office and ask about over the counter or prescription medications used to treat nausea and vomiting.
Some medications your doctor may suggest or prescribe are:
- Zofran This medication is by prescription only and is available in several forms including by IV or a pump. The most commonly prescribed form is a pill. Zofran helps ease nausea and prevent vomitting in most women but can cause super-fun constipation as well as headaches.
- Diclegis A new drug used specifically to treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.
- Vitamin B6 + Half a tab of Unisom The "generic" version of Diclegis (without the time release).This combo has proven very successful in drastically (but not completely) curbing nausea and vomiting. But it can also cause drowsiness, because, well, Unisom is a sleeping pill, after all. It's important when taking Unisom during pregnancy to ONLY take the Unisom Sleep Tabs that can be broken in half because these contain the anti-nausea ingredient doxylamine succinate. Other versions of the drug are not safe during pregnancy.
- Pepcid or Zantac If heartburn and acid reflux are exacerbating the pain of morning sickness, your doctor may suggest Pecid or Zantac to quell the burn, along with an antacid like Tums.
- Phenergan Also sleep-inducing, Phenergan is an anti-nausea medication that is available by prescription.
As with any medical advice, please consult your health care provider before taking any medication(s).
What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum and How do You Know if You Have It?
Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is a fancy way of saying the worst morning sickness ever experienced by anyone in the entire world. It's not your run-of-the-mill morning sickness, but a much more severe version that can lead to hospitalization due to dehydration.
For more information on HG visit helpher.org
Staying Hydrated to Keep Pregnancy Symptoms at Bay
Many of my friends agree, sometimes morning sickness is so bad that not even water is palpable. So, forget the water and try to sip on something with a little flavor. Even on my worst HG days I could still get a little blue Powerade down the gullet which helped provide some sugar and electrolytes to keep me (mostly) hydrated. If blue Powerade isn't your thing, opt for another sports drink, flavored waters, fizzy waters (like La Croix), club soda, or even chocolate almond milk and stick a straw in your glass if this helps it all gown down a little easier.
A lot of women find it easier to consume icy cold drinks so keep those ice trays filled. You could even throw a handful of cubes into the blender with a tablespoon of water and grate until you have a nice ice slush. If you can handle that try adding some fruit to the mix next time around.
Remember that hydration doesn't only come from liquid. Fruits and vegetables, especially juicy ones like watermelon, cucumbers, and clementines are all super hydrating.
Try a Sweet and Citrusy Drink to Ease Morning Sickness Queasies
Speaking of staying hydrated, have you tried lemonade? My mom's homemade lemonade made fresh by the glass got me through some of my darkest hours and I just want to take a minute right here, right now, to say thank you mom, for making fresh-squeezed lemonade on demand for your grown ass daughter for three months straight during my last pregnancy.
For the rest of you, I'm sorry, my mom isn't going to be able to help you. But maybe I can by offering a few words of advice.
First, I don't know why, but the sour and sweet combination of water, lemon, and sugar was something I genuinely craved during my first trimesters.
Second, I almost always threw it up eventually, BUT I know that some of it stayed down and what came up wasn't totally unpleasant. Just something to keep in mind...
Libby, mom of 2 (almost 3)!
I tried oils, seabands, pretty much everything. The only thing that mildly helped was taking a Benadryl. And if I got super nauseous, I would make myself eat because most of the time that would help relieve it. It's a terrible feeling...Also a heating pad to my low back helped a little as well. I just would keep it in the lowest heat [level] and only for 5-10 minutes at a time. Not sure why that helped either, except maybe just helped relax me a little?
Tabitha, mom of 6
I never found anything that worked for me. People tried to offer me stuff to help ease the sickness, (like ginger) and I would instantly throw it up. I would try to eat a few small meals during the day too, but I never could do it. I'd eat immediately when I woke up (crackers beside my bed) whether I felt like it or not, but it still wouldn't help me. For me, I don't think there was anything that could help. Looking back, I wondered how the kids and I even got through all of that!
Erica, mom of 1
My morning sickness was quite severe. I lost nearly 20lbs. The only thing that I found that helped was popsicles. It was basically all I ate for weeks. People told me to try ginger and I would violently vomit anything with ginger in it. I tried the cracker trick and it would make me very sick first thing in the morning. After the first month, I started refrigerating and freezing fruit (mimicking the popsicle) and slowly began to gain a bit back. It was awful.
Danielle, mom of 4
I sipped on ginger ale and snacked on saltine crackers all day, it really helped. I had morning sickness with all four during the first 3 months, but I had it the worst with my daughter.
Iola, mom of 4
Elizabeth, mom of 1
I didn't get morning sickness, but I still threw up a few times from gagging while brushing my teeth. It was really hard to brush the back teeth without gagging.
Anna, mom of 4
I only was nauseous when I was pregnant with my daughter. Keeping hydrated helped a little, but dawn until dusk I felt sick no matter what I did. I couldn't even watch food commercials. I would close my eyes and plug my ears and have my husband tell me when they were over!... I survived on peaches, chips and salsa or potato salad with beans! I'm not joking these foods were on my acceptable list and that was it most days. Oh my word anything with cheese was the worst thing EVER. I once threw up upon entering my parents house because my mom had made bread sticks and apparently that was a trigger! I would avoid driving by Little Caesars because it was so disgusting to me when pregnant. I still struggle even a year after with some foods that are triggers and make me want to throw up from associating them with my pregnancy nausea.
Crystal, mom of 2
Saltines did not work for me and I wanted to barf on everyone that would tell me to eat them.
Have some advice that I didn't include here? I'd love to hear it in the comments below!
© 2015 Kierstin Gunsberg