The majority of women will experience at least occasional nausea during the first trimester, with about 2% experiencing severe daily vomiting. Symptoms usually peak at around 10 weeks as pregnancy hormone levels peak and then slowly improve over the next few weeks.
Because morning sickness is usually at the top of a mommy-to-be’s list of concerns, I wanted to offer my best advice for dealing with this unwelcome side effect of pregnancy.
As a starting strategy, eat small meals throughout the day. Stop before you are full, and try to eat again before you are hungry. High carbohydrate meals seem to be the most helpful. Sucking peppermint candy has been shown to reduce nausea after meals. Keep crackers beside your bed so you can eat them before you get up in the morning. Getting up very slowly can also be helpful.
Some women will have specific foods or smells that trigger the nausea. If you know what the troublesome foods are then you can plan ahead and avoid them. In general steer clear of spicy, rich or fried foods. Other women will experience nausea with brushing their teeth (but please don’t avoid this one!) or other activities like pumping gas.
Try to to take your prenatal vitamin at night with a small snack. If the vitamin still causes nausea, then switch to one without iron. It is very important to get adequate folic acid during the first trimester. So if you can’t hold down an entire vitamin, try a folic acid supplement.
If the nausea is not improving, the next option would be a combination of Vitamin B6 (10 mg) + doxylamine (10 mg…like Unisom) taken every 6 hours as needed. It is safe and is available over the counter. Obviously a sleeping pill may make you tired, but it does help the nausea. Natural ginger supplements have been shown in some studies to reduce nausea. A product that some of my patients have found helpful is Tranquil Tummy Crackers. These are saltines with added ginger.
Another great option is the Prima Bella. It is a medical device that is worn on your wrist that feeds an electrical impulse through the nerves in your arm that modulate the nausea centers of your brain and stomach. It is FDA approved and drug free. You do need a prescription from your provider. Several of my patients have gotten significant improvement from this device.
If you’ve tried these tips and you’re still vomiting regularly or find your nausea incapacitating, then please call your doctor’s office. There are several prescription medications that can help reduce the nausea.
Reasons that you may need to be seen urgently are: vomiting blood, dehydration that results in decreased urination, or not being able to hold down anything for 24 hours. Please let your provider know if you have these symptoms.
I found nausea to be the most challenging symptom in my own pregnancy. I found that keeping snacks close by during the day was helpful. At times, I took the anti-nausea medication in order to function and found it helpful. I would love to hear from our readers about any other helpful hints or products they found beneficial.
As always, we encourage you to discuss these remedies with your doctor so together you can determine what is best for you.