Meta Description: Fortunately, morning sickness has been well studied, and you can learn about many natural, non-invasive home remedies that are available to women suffering from nausea and/or vomiting today and also discover when morning sickness can turn into a serious problem.
Experiencing nausea all the live-long day?
Congratulations on your pregnancy! Now, we know that you’re probably struggling with being nauseated a good bit of the time, especially if you’re in early pregnancy. Morning sickness during pregnancy is thought to be a product of elevated pregnancy hormones and an enhanced sense of smell during the early stages of motherhood. Another theory suggests that nausea and vomiting “evolved to prevent exposure to potentially harmful infectious and toxic organisms in foods, especially during the time that fetal organ systems are developing (nytimes.com).”
This is common in the majority of pregnant women–up to 85 percent of them (nymag.com)–but fear not, there is good news. There are natural morning sickness remedies, and we’re here to tell you about them. Most morning sickness begins by the fifth or sixth weeks of the pregnancy, and luckily, most of it disappears around the 14th week (whattoexpect.com).
A small percentage of women (15-20 percent) experience morning sickness longer than the second trimester, and fortunately only 0.3-3 (healthline.com) percent of pregnant women suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum, which is a severe form of nausea and vomiting that plagues some expectant mothers.
What can I do naturally for morning sickness?
To try to soothe your upset digestive system, it is recommended that pregnant women suffering from nausea eat frequent, small meals and avoid ever having an empty stomach. It must be noted that meats are the number one offender of nausea-inducing foods (nytimes.com), and must be cooked and also refrigerated thoroughly and properly.
Another helpful morning sickness remedy is ginger for stomach upset, which is completely natural. Some women put a small amount of ginger root in tea (nymag.com), or there are ginger chews, ginger candies, and ginger preserves commercially available. Ginger also comes in capsules if you aren’t fond of the taste of it. Beware of ginger ales though, because they often contain no actual ginger root.
Foods to avoid
This may seem like common sense, but if you have an upset stomach, be sure to steer clear of fatty, greasy foods, sweets, spicy foods, and foods that are known to produce gas such as beans. Generally, high-protein, high-carbohydrate bland foods are the way to go in the early stages of pregnancy.
If your nausea is unbearable, you may want to consider smelling some essential oils as a home remedy for morning sickness. Just put a couple of drops on a cotton ball or tissue, or waft gently from the bottle. Essential oils like mint, lemon, and orange have been known to alleviate upset bellies.
There are also alternative morning sickness remedies, like sea-band wristbands, which are sold in most pharmacies marketed as a treatment for motion sickness. These harmless bands put pressure on the inside of your wrist, and their effects are similar to acupuncture without being invasive.
Exercise has been shown to be helpful also in alleviating nausea in the newly pregnant, but check with your medical care provider first before embarking on a new fitness routine just to be safe. Most exercises are strongly encouraged during pregnancy, but there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to workout routines in pregnancy.
Apple cider vinegar
Some women find that taking two to three teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in the morning with warm water is helpful to curb their morning sickness. The thought is that because apple cider vinegar is pH neutral, it may neutralize excess stomach acid, therefore reducing nausea.
If you are still experiencing nausea after trying every remedy mentioned here, it may be time to explore medications. For reasons unknown, vitamin B6 taken three times daily (25mg) has been shown to reduce nausea symptoms, as well as an antihistamine called Doxylamine (marketed as a sleep aid called Unisom). If you decide on Doxylamine, try half of a tablet in the morning and a whole tablet before bed for maximal results. Some women take both of these medications to curb their morning sickness.
Plain old Benadryl can also be used in pregnancy to reduce nausea, at the rate of one 25mg tablet four times per day. It is important to note that antihistamines may make you drowsy, so best not to take them if you will be operating a motor vehicle.
What can I do without medications for morning sickness?
Another helpful tip is to separate your foods and drinks when consuming them. If you drink while you are eating, your stomach is more likely to get upset, so separate your liquids and solids by a chunk of time to prevent nausea. Additionally, it is also recommended that you chew your food more thoroughly than normal if you are nauseated. This aids digestion and allows your saliva to further soften the food, making it easier on your stomach.
“We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.”
-Laura Stavoe Harm
Try to stay away from strong smells. These sorts of things may be specific to your personal preferences, and it’s safe to say that if you can’t stand the smell when you aren’t pregnant, you should stay as far away from them as possible. You may also want to have your spouse or other family member do the meal prep temporarily until you regain your sea legs.
What is hyperemesis gravidarum?
As mentioned earlier, a very small number of pregnant women experience the medical disorder hyperemesis gravidarum (thedailybeast.com), in which an expectant mother may be unable to stop vomiting, even to the point that she becomes critically dehydrated. If you are unable to keep down food or drinks, or you are having dark-colored, infrequent urinations, dizziness upon standing, recurrent vomiting, weight loss, or abdominal pain and/or cramping, it is time for emergency medical treatment.
Expectant mothers with hyperemesis gravidarum frequently need to be hospitalized to recover, so don’t hesitate to call your doctor if you think that you may have this serious pregnancy illness. Untreated, hyperemesis gravidarum could lead to miscarriage, preterm labor, or in severe cases, even death due to extreme dehydration, so it is important to be vigilant about this.
When is it an emergency?
In conclusion, it is strongly recommended that if you can avoid medications during pregnancy, you should, so be sure to bust out the ginger tea and the bland foods before you rush to call your doctor about antiemetic medications. However, if you cannot stop throwing up, it is definitely time to have a conversation with your physician.
A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:
Foods and habits to steer clear of when you’re expecting.
Unusual but common pregnancy symptoms to be aware of.