Natural Ways to Manage Morning Sickness

Natural Ways to Manage Morning Sickness

Morning sickness. 

It’s a bit of a misleading name, since for many women the nausea (and possibly throwing up!) can last all day long.

It can literally stop you in your tracks. And can make getting through each day almost unbearable.
While prescription medication can provide some relief, some women prefer to avoid any type of medication when they are pregnant.

So what’s a natural mama to do? 

If you are suffering from morning sickness (a.k.a. nausea and vomiting during pregnancy or NVP) I encourage you to give the following natural remedies a try before you go and fill that prescription - they might just bring you the relief you are looking for.

1. Vitamin B6

There have been quite a few studies linking Vitamin B6 to decreased symptoms of morning sickness.  In fact, Vitamin B6 (or Pyridoxine) is one of the ingredients in the best known prescription medication for NVP.

Vitamin B6 is easy to find in any health food store in tablet form.

2. Ginger

Let food be thy medicine!  Ginger also has a number of studies to support its effectiveness in alleviating morning sickness.  In fact, some of these studies show it to be more effective than Vitamin B6.

You can find ginger root in capsule form at your local health food store.  This is a more concentrated form of ginger that may be more effective in severe cases of NVP because it allows you to get a therapeutic dosage more easily.

For less severe morning sickness, ginger root in the form of tea (just slice up fresh ginger root and boil in water for 10-15 minutes) or in food can also be beneficial.  Try buying a bag of ginger candies/lozanges (I like Gin Gin brand) and keeping them in your purse at all times. They often bring instant relief to nausea, particularly after eating.

 3.  Peppermint

There is something about the smell of peppermint that automatically evokes a sense of freshness and wellness.  Sipping peppermint tea can settle your stomach and quell the nausea, even if only for the time it takes to finish the mug.  

I also recommend buying some peppermint essential oil.  Spritz in on your pillow at night to help you fall asleep rub a little bit under my nose or neck so you can smell it throughout the day.  You could even put a drop or two directly on your tongue.

Even something as simple as brushing your teeth with a peppermint flavoured toothpaste or chewing peppermint gum can bring relief.

4. Drink Water

Most experts agree - staying hydrated can really help decrease morning sickness symptoms, so drink lots of water or herbal tea. If you have a hard time keeping it down, ice chips or even popsicles made with fruit juice are a good option.

5. REST!

I put this one in capitals because it is so simple, yet so important.  When your body is not feeling well, it's a signal that you need to take some time to slow down and take care of yourself.

Adequate sleep and rest is obviously important during your entire pregnancy, but particularly during the first trimester. The more rested you are, the less severe the nausea will be.

It can be difficult (especially if you have one or more other kids to deal with) but you need to get as much rest as possible.  This is the time to ask for support and accept help from your partner, friends and parents.  Talk to your employer (if you feel comfortable) about working from home as much as possible so you can nap.  Say "no" to plans and don't feel guilty about it.  Put you (and your baby!) first.

6. Protein

Although it may seem tempting to live off of only bland carbohydrates during pregnancy, it's important to make sure that your protein intake still remains high even while suffering from morning sickness.  While most of the support for this recommendation seems anecdotal, it definitely makes a difference for a lot of people.  I think part of the reason behind this is that protein keeps you full longer, keeping the nausea at bay.  Another school of thought on this is that because protein is so important in many of the processes involved in creating a baby, your protein requirements are higher, so the nausea is a result of a protein deficiency when your body can't keep up with the demand.  Whatever the reason, a higher than normal protein intake usually does help decrease morning sickness.

Although high protein foods may be hard to stomach when you are feeling super nauseous, it is important to try your best to find a protein source you can tolerate.  Try a smoothie made with a couple scoops of protein powder or hemp seeds to start your morning or a low-carbohydrate, high-protein snack bar later in the day.

7. Eat Small Meals/Eat Often

Many women struggle with the same conflict throughout the first trimester – you feel too nauseous to eat (or to want to eat anything) but being hungry made makes you feel worse!  

I recommend (and other experts agree) that eating frequent, small meals is the best solution to this problem. Always keep food at hand and just nibbled throughout the day. 

Along these same lines, make sure to eat something before you go to bed (waking up hungry and nauseous is the worst!) and have something beside your bed to nibble on before you get up.

So give these solutions a try. And although it seems like this awful feeling will last forever, most women see improvements in how they feel between the 14-16-week mark. So hang in there!

Sarah Bester, CNP