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Pregnancy & Parenting

Coping With Nausea During Pregnancy

Created: 05/08/2012
Last Updated: 02/08/2013

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At nine weeks pregnant—to the day—I woke up running to the bathroom to get sick. This time it was morning sickness. After that, I was nauseous almost constantly through the first 14 weeks. I could barely watch a food commercial without gagging, and some of my favorite meals sounded gross to me.

And I know I'm not alone. About half of all women experience morning sickness, which, despite its name, is as likely to happen at dinnertime as it is breakfast. You may be vomiting multiple times a day or perhaps, like me, it's mostly just a constant feeling of nausea. No one knows exactly what causes nausea and subsequent vomiting during pregnancy, but it is often attributed to a combination of hormones and other physical changes.

Morning sickness isn't usually harmful to women or their babies, but it is unpleasant. Make every effort to keep taking your prenatal vitamin to maintain healthy nutrients for your developing baby. If you have trouble keeping it down, try taking it at night or with a snack or chew gum or suck on hard candy after taking the vitamin. If these steps don't help, talk to your health care provider.

I found some relief by chewing on ginger candies; I never left home without them. If that doesn't help, here are some other things you can try to help prevent nausea and vomiting, keeping in mind that they don't always work for everyone:

  • Eat smaller meals often throughout the day, avoiding an empty stomach.
  • Drink fluids regularly, particularly 30 minutes before eating. Water, ginger ale, lemonade and other cold, clear, carbonated or sour fluids are good choices. You also may want to suck on ice chips or ice pops.
  • Eat plain crackers, such as saltines, because the salty, neutral flavors have been shown to calm tummies. Some women find it helps to eat a few crackers or piece of dry toast before getting out of bed in the morning to settle an empty stomach. Foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in fat may be easier to digest.
  • Smell lemon, mint or orange, either fresh or using an oil diffuser.
  • Steer clear of greasy, fatty and spicy foods, if they seem to upset your stomach. That plateful of nachos or loaded pizza before bedtime may not be a great idea.
  • Avoid foods and smells that trigger your nausea. This varies from person to person and may even vary from one pregnancy to the next, but, for some women, perfume, coffee, chemicals and smoke are common triggers.
  • Avoid visual or physical motion, such as flickering lights, driving mountain roads or going on a boat.
  • Get a breath of fresh air when you need to, because getting overheated may add to feelings of nausea, and exercise may alleviate them. Weather permitting, open windows when you can.
  • Wear an acupressure or "seasickness" bracelet, which can be found in drugstores.
  • Acupuncture and hypnosis are other alternative treatments that some women find helpful.

Your health care professional also may talk to you about taking supplements, such as vitamin B6 and doxylamine, or antihistamines or other antinausea medicines. Do not take any supplements or medications without discussing them with your health care professional.