If you’re early on in your pregnancy, you’ll likely experience morning sickness at some point — more than half of pregnant women do. Morning sickness involves nausea and vomiting that usually occurs in the first trimester -- and not always just in the morning.
Triggers (causes) include:
- Smelling certain foods or scents
- Eating (especially spicy foods)
- Heat and severe salivation
Although its precise cause is uncertain, morning sickness may be related to your body’s sudden influx of hormones.
Although morning sickness usually disappears about halfway through your pregnancy, its symptoms can hamper daily activities. Some women have an extreme form called hyperemesis gravidarum. It lasts longer than typical morning sickness, leading to dehydration and weight loss. This condition requires hospitalization.
There are a number of remedies and treatments you can try to get rid of mild morning sickness.
Remedies and Treatments for Morning Sickness
Many remedies for morning sickness are similar to those for nausea and vomiting. Keep these tips in mind whenever you’re feeling sick to your stomach.
For some women, eating or smelling food makes morning sickness worse. Vomiting can deplete your body of fluids. A clear liquid diet will provide some of the nutrients you need until you feel comfortable eating solid foods again. Clear liquids are easy to digest and won’t put added strain on your stomach.
Pregnant women should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of liquid each day. Drinks containing sugar are better tolerated. You may want to try some of the following beverages:
- Electrolyte drinks
- Ginger beer or ginger ale
- Mineral or soda water
Alternatively, you can try eating jello or sucking on popsicles, frozen fruit juice, or frozen yogurt.
Avoid drinks with a high amount of acid, like orange juice. They can irritate your stomach, worsening your symptoms.
Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, is water-soluble (it dissolves in water). It’s found in many foods and can also be taken as a supplement.
Although there are mixed results regarding the effectiveness of B6 alone to treat morning sickness, it is proven to control the symptoms when combined with doxylamine (an antihistamine). Taking this combination is associated with a 70% reduction in nausea and vomiting in pregnant women and lower hospitalization rates.
Ginger is a root widely used for medicinal purposes, including nausea. Studies show that taking ginger syrup or ginger powder in pill form reduces nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
You can try other ginger products, such as:
- Ginger tea made with ginger powder or grated ginger root
- Nonalcoholic ginger beer
- Crystalized ginger
- Ginger-flavored snacks
- Ginger cordial
Although some women report heartburn or reflux when taking ginger, it is considered a safe and effective treatment for morning sickness.
Both fresh ginger root and ginger supplements are widely available. You should be able to find them at your local grocery store.
Many types of antiemetic (anti-nausea and anti-vomiting) medication are safe to take during pregnancy. However, there are some antiemetics that either don’t have enough safety information or have conflicting results.
For example, Ondansetron is highly effective for preventing nausea and vomiting, but it’s also linked to heart-rhythm issues, especially for people who have underlying heart conditions. It also potentially risky to the fetus, especially if taken in the first trimester. Therefore, pregnant women should consult with their doctor before taking antiemetic medication.
Many women with morning sickness find the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) a helpful diet to follow. If you’re finding it hard to keep food down, these starchy foods can help ease you back into your regular diet.
However, solid foods of any kind aren’t recommended for people who are actively vomiting. Once your vomiting stops, you can give this diet a try. You don’t have to stick to those four foods, though. You can also try bland foods like clear broth, saltine crackers, or plain potatoes.
It’s important to know that the BRAT diet doesn’t include all of the nutrients your body needs. Once your stomach calms down, you should reintegrate other foods, such as fruits and vegetables, into your diet.
When to See a Doctor
In most cases, morning sickness symptoms remain mild and disappear midway through your pregnancy. But you should contact your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Your nausea or vomiting is severe
- You can only pass a small amount of urine or it’s a dark color
- You can’t keep liquids down
- You become dizzy or faint after standing up
- Your heart is racing