Pregnancy: Dealing With Morning Sickness
For many women, the toughest part of early pregnancy is morning sickness. If you are suffering from nausea, vomiting, or both, you need safe measures that will bring you some relief. Your best course of action for managing morning sickness is home treatment. By following a few proven guidelines, you are likely to gain significant relief from nausea and vomiting. Home treatment measures for morning sickness include:
- Changing what, when, and how much you eat.
- Taking ginger, vitamin B6, or vitamin B12, which may reduce nausea and/or vomiting during pregnancy.
- Avoiding foods and smells that make you feel sick.
- Trying acupressure, which seems to work for some women.
- Taking doxylamine by itself or with vitamin B6. Talk to your doctor about this medicine.
If you have severe, persistent nausea and vomiting, see your doctor or nurse-midwife immediately. This uncommon complication of pregnancy can lead to dehydration and malnutrition, sometimes requiring prescribed medicine or hospitalization.
The following are safe, proved treatments for morning sickness. Still, few women gain complete relief from morning sickness treatment.
- Certain antihistamines like doxylamine or dimenhydrinate, taken as your doctor advises, may relieve morning sickness.1 If one of these antihistamines alone does not relieve your morning sickness, you can try taking it with vitamin B6.2
- Ginger, taken regularly as a powder in a capsule, grated fresh into hot water for a tea, or in syrup or crystallized form, may relieve morning sickness after a few days of treatment.2
- Vitamin B6 and B12, taken regularly as your doctor advises, may reduce nausea and vomiting.
- Acupressure, firmly placed on the P6 point (the inner side of your arm, in line with your middle finger and one-sixth of the way between your wrist and elbow), relieves nausea for some women.
Follow these guidelines for minimizing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
- Keep food in your stomach but not too much. An empty stomach can make nausea worse. Eat several small meals every day instead of three large meals.
- For morning nausea, eat a small snack (like crackers) before you get out of bed. Allow a few minutes for the snack to digest, then get out of bed slowly.
- Stay hydrated. Drink a lot of fluids. Try a sports hydration drink, as well as water, broth, or juice.
- Eat more protein, and cut your fatty food intake.
- Avoid smells and foods that make you feel nauseated. Citrus juice, milk, coffee, and caffeinated tea commonly make nausea worse.
- If you are taking iron supplements, ask your doctor if they are necessary. Iron can make nausea worse.
- Get lots of rest. Stress and fatigue can make morning sickness worse.
Contact your doctor immediately if you vomit more than 3 times a day or are unable to take fluids, especially if you also have pain, fever, or both.
- Festin M (2009). Nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy, search date May 2008. BMJ Clinical Evidence. Available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
- Kelly TF, Savides TJ. (2009). Gastrointestinal disease in pregnancy. In RK Creasy et al., eds., Creasy and Resnik's Maternal-Fetal Medicine: Principles and Practice, 6th ed., pp. 1041–1057. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
Last Revised: August 15, 2013
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