Many pregnant women struggle with morning sickness during the first trimester. There are several safe and natural remedies you can try to help alleviate nausea in early pregnancy.
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Although pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting is called ‘morning sickness‘, women can experience these symptoms at any time of day (or night).
Morning sickness symptoms – nausea and vomiting – usually occur in the first trimester. Some women, however, experience morning sickness throughout their entire pregnancy.
A small percentage of pregnant women (about .5-2%) will develop hyperemesis gravidarium – severe nausea and vomiting, leading to dehydration and weight loss.
Most women who struggle with mild to moderate morning sickness symptoms can control their nausea using natural remedies.
If you are experiencing severe symptoms, including persistent nausea and vomiting, definitely talk to your doctor about other available treatments.
What Causes Morning sickness during pregnancy?
The actual cause of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is largely unknown, although multiple theories exist.
Medical professionals believe that morning sickness could be caused by hormone changes, changes in gastric motility, and/or genetic factors.
When Does Morning Sickness Start (And How Long Will it Last)?
Most women start experiencing morning sickness symptoms when they are about five to six weeks pregnant. This will usually be about a week or two after a missed period and right around the time most women discover they are pregnant.
A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology in 2000 found that the majority of women reported nausea that lasted an average of 34 days.
Half of the women experiencing morning sickness reported relief from symptoms by 14 weeks. By 22 weeks, the morning sickness for most of the women (90%) in the study had resolved.
Who Gets Nausea During Pregnancy? Are You More At Risk?
Some women will find themselves struggling with morning sickness more than others. Research shows certain people are more susceptible to nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
Some of the risk factors include:
- history of motion sickness
- history of migraines
- nausea while on birth control in the past
- morning sickness during a previous pregnancy
- relatives with nausea and/or vomiting in pregnancy (especially mother or sister)
- pregnant with multiples
Are you struggling with morning sickness? Whether you are experiencing nausea every now and then or ALL DAY LONG, here are some natural ways to treat morning sickness in early pregnancy.
Natural Ways to Treat Morning Sickness
1. Figure out Your Triggers (If you Have Any)
For some women, there is no rhyme or reason for when morning sickness strikes. However, you may be able to pinpoint certain triggers that often lead to you feeling nauseous.
Morning sickness triggers could be certain foods, especially foods that are irritating to the stomach (see number 2).
Certain smells can definitely trigger nausea and/or vomiting in pregnant women (you know, like someone heating up fish in the lunchroom at work)!
Other triggers may be related to heat or humidity, noisy rooms, or fluorescent lighting.
If you can identify any triggers that cause you to experience morning sickness, you can try to avoid those as much as possible.
2. Eliminate Certain Foods
Some foods are known to be irritating to the stomach. These may contribute to increased feelings of nausea during pregnancy.
If you’re not sure what foods are making your nausea worse, you can always start a food diary. Keep a log of what you’re eating and track when you’re feeling nauseous. You may be able to find a pattern of certain foods that are making your symptoms worse.
3. Eat What You Can Tolerate
There are certain foods that might just appeal to you over others (and it might not make any sense why)!
For my first two pregnancies, I had aversions to meat and vegetables. I loved eating Popchips, wheat thins and cheese, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Figure out what you tolerate best and eat that.
4. Eat Small Amounts of Food Every 1-2 Hours
An empty stomach can aggravate nausea in pregnancy. If you eat before or as soon as you feel hungry, this can help alleviate symptoms of morning sickness.
Conversely, a too-full stomach can also aggravate nausea. Eating small portions at a time can help prevent this.
I found it helpful to eat small snacks every hour during my first trimester.
5. Avoid Lying Down After Eating
Lying down after you eat can cause the stomach contents to travel back up to the esophagus, which can lead to indigestion, heartburn, and nausea.
Try to stay upright about 2 hours after having a meal for proper digestion to take place.
However, sometimes you might feel better ONLY when you lie down. In that case, lie down as often as you can! If you’ve just eaten, you can try elevating your head higher then your stomach while lying down.
6. Have A Snack in the Middle of the Night
You’re probably already getting up to go to the bathroom overnight. Eating a small snack in the middle of the night might help to prevent nausea in the morning.
Try something that includes protein like crackers with peanut butter.
7. Brush Your Teeth Frequently
Frequent brushing of the teeth, especially after a meal, may be helpful for some pregnant women who are experiencing nausea.
However, if you are struggling with morning sickness, you may find that even brushing your teeth can trigger uncomfortable symptoms like retching and gagging.
If you find yourself gagging with brushing your teeth, try changing the flavor of your toothpaste.
8. Take Your Prenatal Vitamin at Night
Your important prenatal vitamin can unfortunately induce nausea. Vitamins that contain iron can be especially irritating to your stomach.
Try taking your prenatal vitamin at night, before you go to bed. You may sleep through any nausea symptoms it might cause!
Alternatively, if you take your prenatal shortly after eating a meal, it may be better tolerated than on an empty stomach.
9. Take A Hot Shower
I have no scientific evidence for this one. I just know that taking a hot shower always makes me feel better!
10. Eat or Drink Some Ginger
Ginger spice has been used for thousands of years in herbal medicine.
Ginger can increase gastrointestinal motility so things move quicker from the stomach to the intestines. Since slow gastric emptying can contribute to nausea, this may be one way that ginger can help reduce morning sickness symptoms.
Multiple studies have shown that ginger (up to 1,000 mg daily) is effective for alleviating nausea and vomiting in pregnancy with no significant side effects.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women try ginger capsules or candies, ginger ale, or ginger tea.
11. Have Peppermint After Eating
According to UpToDate, drinking peppermint tea or sucking peppermint candies may help women struggling with morning sickness by reducing nausea that occurs after a meal.
12. Alternative Medicine: Acupuncture
If you’ve had acupuncture done before, or are interested in trying it out, some studies have shown that it can have a positive effect on reducing nausea in pregnancy.
Acupuncture is using needles to stimulate certain points on the body. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, energy (or “qi”/”chi”) runs through the body along meridians. Acupuncture points are located on these meridians. Proper stimulation of these points helps restore balance to someone’s energy flow and can relieve certain symptoms (such as pain and nausea).
An Australian study divided pregnant participants into separate groups to receive four different treatments over the course of four weeks:
- traditional acupuncture
- p6 acupuncture (stimulating JUST the p6 pressure point, which is on the wrist)
- sham acupuncture (acupuncture needles placed close to but not actually on acupuncture points)
- no treatment (control group)
The women in the traditional acupuncture group reported less nausea than the control group in all four weeks. The p6 group also had lower nausea scores, starting in the second week.
In the third and fourth weeks, the sham acupuncture group also reported less nausea than the control group, which the researchers contributed to the placebo effect.
The study concluded that acupuncture can be helpful in relieving nausea for pregnant women. However, the acupuncture had no effect on reducing vomiting.
13. Wear An Acupressure Band
Similar to acupuncture, acupressure stimulates the same points on the body but uses pressure (instead of needles).
One way women can treat morning sickness through acupressure is by the use of acupressure bands.
Acupressure bands (also known as motion sickness bracelets or pressure point wristbands) are bands that you wear around your upper wrist. When you wear it, pressure is placed on the p6 pressure point. Research is mixed but some studies have shown acupressure can relieve nausea in pregnancy.
If you’re struggling with nausea, an acupressure band is a great option to try in conjunction with other remedies as there are no known harmful side effects.
14. Practice Relaxation Techniques
Psychological interventions may help reduce nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
One recent study treated women struggling with morning sickness with mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). According to the research article, MBCT “involves teaching individuals various stress management, relaxation, self-care and self-help techniques in a systematic way. The core skill taught is mindfulness, which uses meditation practice to increase attention and awareness.” (source)
During the study, women were split into a control group and an experimental group. Both groups of women took vitamin B6 daily to help with their morning sickness symptoms. The experimental group ALSO received 8 sessions of MBCT over a three-week period.
The women in the experimental MBCT group had significant improvements in nausea and vomiting symptoms compared to the vitamin B6 group. They also had lower reports of anxiety, depression, and pregnancy distress.
Since most pregnant women don’t have easy access to a Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy program, here are some mindfulness exercises that can be done at home to help alleviate morning sickness:
- Breathing Exercises
- Guided Meditation
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
15. Try Yoga Poses to Reduce Nausea
Yoga can be a great activity for pregnant women, even if you’re never done it before! Yoga during pregnancy can help gently stretch the body and increase blood flow and circulation.
One study found that yoga decreased the severity of nausea and vomiting symptoms during the first trimester in a small sample of pregnant women in Indonesia.
Here’s a list of five yoga poses for morning sickness – with pictures!
How To Find Relief When YOu Are Struggling With Morning Sickness
Just like every pregnancy is different, every women’s experience with morning sickness will be different. Not all of these recommendations will work for everyone. But hopefully, you found a few to try that will help alleviate some of your pregnancy nausea.