10 Tips to Help Fight Morning Sickness
Doctors aren't exactly sure what causes morning sickness. The most popular theory is that morning sickness is the body's reaction to the pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is produced at higher levels during the first trimester than at any other time during pregnancy. And even though it’s called “morning” sickness, it can actually hit at any time of day.
Morning sickness is an unavoidable side effect of a healthy pregnancy and developing baby, but it can take a nutritional toll on the mom-to-be. Since good nutrition is crucial during this stage of life, here are some tips to help combat morning sickness and stay as healthy as possible:
- Avoid smells. Pregnancy hormones will likely enhance your sense of smell, which can cause nausea to get worse when you’re exposed to certain odors. Identify those smells and avoid them when at all possible.
- Eat small. Eat small, frequent meals every couple of hours throughout the day. Don’t drink more than 4 ounces at a time, and only drink between meals, not during meals. An empty stomach often makes the nausea worse.
- Sit up straight. After eating or drinking, don’t lie down for a while even if you really need a nap. Gravity will help prevent nausea and reflux.
- Candy remedies. Keep a stash of ginger candies, lemon drops or peppermints nearby. These provide nausea relief for some women.
- Go clear. If it’s hard to keep anything down, focus on clear liquids that are NOT highly sugared. Water, tea, ginger ale and Gatorade are among the best. Stay hydrated!
- Freeze it. If keeping fluids down is a problem, try freezing milk, juice or water. The cold numbs the back of your mouth and takes away the bad taste and sensation that bring on nausea.
- Be bland. Bland starches, such as breads, rice or pasta, which are metabolized quickly, are often the best choices. Concentrate on non-fatty starches like dry toast, crackers, baked potatoes and plain baked pretzels. Avoid highly spiced or greasy foods and gas-producing vegetables like cabbage. Non-acidic fruits like peaches, pears and bananas are usually well tolerated.
- Add more variety later. Keep it simple first thing in the morning, but if the nausea tends to subside later in the day, try to eat meats, cheeses and other milk products that sound good to you.
- Supplement. Consider taking vitamins to supplement your diet. Vitamin B-6 is another common and safe tummy soother. Unfortunately, the iron in prenatal vitamins may also make nausea worse (especially on an empty stomach). An adult chewable multivitamin with folic acid may help.
- Pack in nutrients. Once the worst of your morning sickness has passed (after the first trimester for many), pack in as many healthy foods as possible: colorful fruits and vegetables, lean protein and foods with a lot of calcium, iron and zinc.
Remember that morning sickness will go away. If you experience excessive vomiting and can’t keep food down, talk with your doctor.