Remember when you used to fantasize about morning sickness because at least that would mean you were pregnant? Those days are behind you now (hooray!), but morning sickness is nothing to scoff at in real life – gratitude or no gratitude. In fact, we’re not entirely sure why it’s called “morning” sickness when – in truth – it strikes at any time of the day.
9 Things You Can Do to Alleviate Morning Sickness
When it gets right down to it, the exact causes of morning sickness are unknown. We’re sure hormones are the main instigators, as are stress, strong smells, wonky motions, etc. – but exactly why they plague a woman who’s about to embark on nearly a year of pregnancy discomforts is a mystery. What we do know is that short of a guaranteed cure, there are things you can do to minimize the battle.
1) Keep that tummy occupied
There’s definitely a correlation between empty tummies and morning sickness. Maybe that’s the reason it’s experienced most often in the morning, when the stomach has been empty for eight or more hours. Many women find that during the first trimester, when morning sickness is at its worst, it’s better to eat small meals and snacks throughout the day – rather than focus on three meals a day. That constant grazing keeps the stomach from getting empty, and more acidic, which minimizes nausea and vomiting.
This idea of smaller meals is a good idea throughout pregnancy because the extra progesterone in your system slows down digestion, and it takes longer than normal to digest meals. Keeping meals smaller, lighter and more frequent will help to keep nausea at bay and prevent you from getting uncomfortably full.
2) Keep a scent escape within reach
The wrong smells can send mild queasiness into the red zone – the apartment garbage bin, your cubicle mate’s leftover lunch, etc. Keeping the right scent on hand (lemon extract, a cotton ball with peppermint essential oil, a spring of rosemary) can work wonders. Whip it out and take a whiff to reset the olfactory upset and quell your churning stomach.
3) Get up a little earlier than normal
Yeah, we know. This one doesn’t sound so appealing. But it takes a little longer to wake up and get going once you’re pregnant, especially in the haze of fatigue that haunts the first trimester alongside (or contributing to) morning sickness. Set the alarm just a wee bit earlier. Give yourself time to really wake up, take deep breaths and stretch. Nibble on the saltines or pretzels on your nightstand, get a sip or two of lemon- or cucumber-infused water and then get up to conquer the day.
Ginger has been used medicinally to treat a nauseous and upset tummies for generations upon generations. There are all kinds of ways to ingest it, ranging from ginger teas and ginger ale (the real kind, not the artificially flavored versions), to candied ginger, as well as ginger pops and hard ginger candies you can suck on. Some women find the lollipops and hard candies to be the best because the constant sucking and swallowing – combined with the slow release of ginger to the belly – is effective.
5) Make sure you are well-rested (naptime, anyone?)
We mentioned the fatigue of the first trimester above, and it’s true. In fact, for many women, the feeling that you can hardly keep your eyes open by the middle of the day is the first pregnancy clue. This fatigue is your body’s way of communicating all the hard work it’s doing internally to grow a healthy baby. Honor that by getting as much rest as you can. Go to bed a little earlier than normal, try to take naps as often as you can. If a nap isn’t an option, get in the habit of sitting down for a bit in the middle of the day, getting your feet up and taking some deep relaxing breaths. The more rested you are, the better you’ll feel.
6) Keep hydrated
Hydration is key. Between the extra blood your body will be making to nourish and oxygenate baby, to the water comprising the amniotic fluid in the uterus, your body needs adequate fluids. You don’t need to go crazy here, but just make sure you’re getting enough (about 10 cups of fluids per day). While water is certainly recommended, it can be hard on a sensitive tummy. Infusing it with lemon, cucumber or other favorite fruits can help if you’re not normally a water drinker. We also recommend checking out our Cool Healthy Summer Sips recipes for fun, flavorful and healthy hydration options.
7) Avoid overly greasy or spicy foods
These foods can trigger upset so for a little while, opt for more bland, comfort foods to give your stomach a break.
8) Never every take prenatal vitamins on an empty stomach
Your prenatal vitamins can seriously exacerbate nausea if you take them on an empty stomach. While the culture has us start our day with vitamins, you may find your body prefers taking your prenatal vitamin later in the afternoon with a snack or even after your dinner. Taking them with food will help buffer the effects they might have on existing morning sickness.
9) Freeze coconut water or sports drinks in ice trays
Having a particularly tough day where everything comes back up? These frozen electrolyte delights will come in handy. By sucking on them or breaking them up into ice chips, your body will stay hydrated and get what it needs until it’s ready for something a little more substantial. They will also come in handy several months down the road when you’re in labor.
Other remedies that have been shown to relieve morning sickness include stress-relief and relaxation techniques as well as taking vitamin B6 supplements (always talk to your doctor before taking a supplement).
Is it unpleasant? Yes. However, don’t let morning sickness stress you out. Your baby will get everything it needs nutrient-wise from the little bits you’re able to consume here and there between the bad spells. Once you hit that second trimester (week 14!) odds are you’ll be feeling like the glowing pregnant mama you’ve always wanted to be.