5 Pregnancy-Safe Morning Sickness Remedies
About 70% of pregnant people experience nausea during pregnancy, according to research published in the journal Gastroenterology Clinics of North America. Pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting are commonly referred to as "morning sickness," but the symptoms may occur at any time of the day. Symptom frequency varies from person to person, says Gerardo Bustillo, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn in Fountain Valley, California.
In rare cases, a person may end up with a form of pregnancy sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), which is characterized by severe and chronic nausea and the inability to keep food or drink down. This can have an impact on the person’s daily life and often requires specialist treatment, sometimes at the hospital.
“As many as 3% of pregnant women experience hyperemesis gravidarum, defined as weight loss exceeding 5% of prepregnancy body weight,” says Bustillo.
But for the vast majority of pregnant people, morning sickness usually clears up by weeks 16 to 20. While this pregnancy side effect isn't harmful to the baby (except in rare severe cases), experiencing it can feel miserable. And you will likely find yourself looking for strategies to reduce your nausea and get you through the day.
While there are no standard treatments that work for everyone, there are several different pregnancy-safe methods you can try.
Sherry Ross, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, recommends consuming ginger to ease morning sickness. The results of a systematic review published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 2020 suggest that ginger has a positive effect on nausea in pregnant women. The theory, explains Ross, is that ginger helps relax the gastrointestinal muscles, which may relieve symptoms associated with nausea and vomiting.
Ginger is available in different forms: lozenges, gum, capsules, ginger root boiled in water, prepackaged tea, or nonalcoholic ginger beer. Ginger ale and gingersnaps may also help with symptoms, Ross adds.
2. Vitamin B6
The same 2020 review in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology suggests that vitamin B6 was even more effective for treating pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting than ginger when taken over a longer treatment period of 60 days.
“It's not clear how vitamin B6 works, but it has a great track record,” says Ross. If you’re interested in this remedy, check with your doctor about whether supplementing with vitamin B6 may be a good option for you—and keep in mind that prenatal vitamins typically contain the recommended daily amount of vitamin B6.
Another easy morning sickness remedy that may help reduce nausea is acupressure. Acupressure wristbands, for example, are designed to apply gentle pressure to a specific part of the inner wrist. “These use the Pericardium 6 (PC6 or P6) pressure point to relieve mild nausea and vomiting,” explains Ross. Gently pressing this pressure point may help people cope with nausea from various causes, including pregnancy.
You could also try PC6 acupressure without a wristband, using your fingers. Position your hand so that your fingers are pointing up and your palm is facing you. Then place the first three fingers of your opposite hand across your wrist and place your opposite thumb just below the index finger. The two large tendons under your thumb on the inside of the wrist form pressure point PC6. Press down firmly but not so hard that it hurts. Move your thumb in a circle and continue for two to three minutes. Then switch to the other wrist and repeat.
4. Eating Bland Foods Throughout the Day
If you experience nausea during pregnancy, Ross recommends eating frequently and often. “Don’t wait to feel hungry to eat,” she says. Meals and snacks should be eaten slowly, in small amounts, and frequently (every one to two hours) to avoid an empty stomach, which can worsen morning sickness. Keeping crackers at your bedside table to eat before you even get out of bed in the morning can help.
Generally, foods that are spicy, salty, acidic, high in fat, or very sweet are best avoided if you have morning sickness because they can cause further upset, says Ross. Ross recommends the BRAT diet of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, with cold, clear, carbonated beverages in small amounts sipped as often as possible.
Most healthy pregnancies involve some degree of morning sickness, says Ross. But it shouldn’t get to the point where it’s causing health problems or seriously disrupting your life.
“If nausea and vomiting stop you from drinking or eating for more than a 24-hour period, it’s time to take the next step and bring it to the attention of your doctor,” Ross says.
They might prescribe medication, the safest of which is doxylamine/pyridoxine (Diclegis). “It’s basically a combination of Benadryl and vitamin B6,” explains Ross.
The antihistamine diphenhydramine, available over-the-counter with brand names Benadryl and Nytol, may also be helpful, says Bustillo. Other prescription medications that may be used include meclizine (Bonine, Antivert), metoclopramide (Maxolon), promethazine (Phenergan, and ondansetron (Zofran). Don’t take anything without asking your doctor first.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
Morning sickness can be a tough symptom to experience, but it’s important to keep in mind that it’s common and also—in most cases—temporary. “Reassuring women who don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel is important,” says Ross. You will eventually feel better; and, in the meantime, these remedies may offer some relief.
You May Also Like:
- The First Trimester: A Guide to Early Pregnancy
- How to Cope with Morning Sickness
- How to Manage Stress During Pregnancy
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