More than 50% of pregnant people report experiencing nausea and/or vomiting during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester. While we aren’t quite sure exactly what causes nausea and vomiting, statistically it is related to a lower risk of miscarriage. So while it may be uncomfortable and inconvenient, rest assured that nausea in pregnancy is likely a reassuring sign that your body is adapting to the hormone changes of pregnancy. For most women, nausea and vomiting will subside around the end of the first trimester, and, for 95% of women, will be completely gone by about halfway through the pregnancy.
Unless nausea and vomiting is persistent and severe, we generally encourage our clients to try lifestyle modifications, holistic remedies, and over-the counter medications before prescription medications.
If you are experiencing nausea in pregnancy, here are some things you can try:
EAT AS SOON AS YOU WAKE UP AND INGEST SMALL, FREQUENT, PROTEIN RICH MEALS THROUGHOUT THE DAY
Keep crackers, nuts, or other salty food next to your bed and eat it before you even sit up in the morning or if you wake up nauseous during the night. For some pregnant people, a hard boiled egg may also be tolerable (if the strong smell doesn’t bother you!) While many women crave carbohydrates during the first trimester, if you can try to stick to protein-dense foods, you may avoid dramatic shifts in blood sugar levels which can further contribute to nausea. That said, many pregnant people are very challenged in early pregnancy by nausea and can only tolerate a short list of foods–if this is you, know that there will be plenty of time to eat healthy in the second and third trimester when you will likely be feeling better.
AVOID STRONG SMELLING OR TASTING FOODS
Foods like broccoli or fish, while excellent for a growing baby, may be difficult for a pregnant person to tolerate in the first trimester. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and consider a more bland diet if strong smelling foods make you nauseous or cause vomiting.
TIME YOUR PRENATAL VITAMINS RIGHT–OR NOT AT ALL
Some find they need to take prenatal vitamins after a meal, while others find that prenatal vitamins cause them to be more nauseous and vomit. There is no true evidence that supports of value of a prenatal vitamin, so we generally tell our clients that are averse to them during the first trimester that we would prefer they be able to eat and drink as normally as possible during the day than take a prenatal vitamin that makes them more sick.
GET PLENTY OF REST AND CONSIDER EXERCISE
For many, nausea and fatigue can be a vicious cycle. Make sure you are getting plenty of rest, maybe even a nap a few times a week if it’s possible! A bit of exercise can also be invigorating and help to improve nausea–listen to your body.
Ginger may help to settle an upset stomach. Try ginger tea, ginger chews, or ginger preserves. You can also take 250mg per day of ginger in capsule form.
Research supports the use of acupuncture and acupressure for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. There are several places in WNY that offer acupuncture for pregnancy, including Acupuncture Buffalo and Queen City Acupuncture.
VITAMIN B6 (WITH OR WITHOUT UNISOM)
Take 25mg of B6 three times per day. At night time, consider adding doxylamine (sold as unisom) in conjunction with B6. It will make you sleepy so the unison isn’t the best for daytime nausea!
Aromatherapy in the form of essential oils (diffused or in a roller bottle) can help with nausea and vomiting. Consider lemon, lavendar, ginger, peppermint, or fennel from Young Living.
If none of the above work, talk to your provider about medications, such as diglegis or zofran, for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.
Additionally, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, be sure to check in with your doctor or midwife:
Inability to keep down food or drink for 12 hours or more
Signs of dehydration: infrequent urination, very dark urine, or dizziness
Vomiting many times in a day
Abdominal or pelvic pain or cramping
Weight loss of more than 5 pounds