I Think I’m Gonna Be Sick! : What’s The Deal With Nausea During Pregnancy?

By: Heather Delaney, co-owner, birth & postpartum doula and childbirth educator

The joy and excitement of that positive pregnancy test and the eagerness to feel those first symptoms are things that most expectant mothers experience in early pregnancy.  One of the most common but often crippling signs of an early pregnancy is nausea, either lingering or accompanied by vomiting, or the dry heaves.  It can stop you in your tracks and, unfortunately, completely derail your normal schedule and life.  While most solutions for nausea in pregnancy require weathering the storm – most find relief from the greatest waves of nausea by the beginning of their second trimester – here are a few facts and ideas to help you get through with some sense of sanity and self preservation:

When Should I Expect To See This Begin?

Most bouts of nausea begin early, between the 4th and 8th week of pregnancy.  Often nausea is the first indicator for women that they are pregnant.  For some, the symptoms are worst in the morning (hence the reason many refer to it as morning sickness) while other women find that it comes and goes throughout the day. 

What’s the Reason for This Terrible Curse?

Many researchers believe that the rise of two hormones in early pregnancy, estrogen and the pregnancy hormone HCG, are responsible for the fluctuation in queasiness, especially since they rise dramatically during the second month of pregnancy as the growing baby develops. When these hormones begin to balance off as the second trimester begins, the nausea for most abates, although there is a small percentage of women who experience severe nausea and even vomiting for a great portion of their pregnancy.  If you believe you fall into this category, talk to your provider about your symptoms.  You may be suffering from a pregnancy ailment known as Hyperemesis Gravidarium.

So do I just have to suffer through it?

Fortunately, there are a few things that can help abate nausea throughout the day.  Try a few on this list to see what works best for your symptoms:

Stick With Bland, Dry Foods

Many find that the more spice and sweetness, or greasy/fat content contained in their food, the worse it is on their stomach.  Dry, plain foods like toast and rice work best.  It is also a great idea to stick to the BRAT diet that many assume during a bout with the stomach flu; bananas, rice, applesauce and toast are great for keeping something in your stomach and hoping to settle it.

Eat Several Small Meals

When I was pregnant, I found I had to eat small meals constantly to keep the nausea at bay.  That meant having lots of snacks on hand when I was out and about or working at my desk to keep my stomach full but not overly full. This also meant minimizing the amount of fullness in my stomach from drinking with meals.  Decreasing the chance of getting overly full is a great way to help with queasiness.

Avoid a Completely Empty Stomach First Thing in the Morning

Most often the more empty the stomach, the worse the nausea, which is hard when you’re waking up in the morning and needing to get something down quickly.  Keeping soda crackers or a dry snack next to the bed to munch on quickly while you are getting ready for the day prior to breakfast helps with the proportion of food needed to help keep nausea away.

Suck on Sour Candies or Lozenges

You can find many great lozenges marketed for pregnancy that can help to distract and minimize symptoms.  Preggie Pops are a fantastic brand found in most drugstores and at maternity stores.  Sour over sweet is usually a more helpful taste.  Many lozenges contain ginger which is a diuretic to assist with nausea as well.

Use a Rollerball Oil Remedy

Smell can be a powerful aid in, or detriment to, nausea.  Definitely try and avoid strong smells that trigger your nausea; many women find they might have to cool it on the perfume for a bit while they wait for their symptoms to subside.  To help with nausea, try a mixture of 10 drops of ginger oil and 10 drops of peppermint oil with a carrier, such as fractionated coconut oil, to a rollerball and apply at the pulse points when needed.  The pleasant smells work aromatically to reduce the urge to visit the porcelain goddess.

See An Acupuncturist

Acupuncture assists with so many imbalances and symptoms in the body, and one of the things my acupuncturist at Meadow Hill Wellness boasts is the ability to assist with feelings of nausea during pregnancy! An added bonus is the relaxing nature of treatments and taking time out for yourself during the day.  If you’re unable to see an acupuncturist, try using Sea-Bands.  The bands sit on pressure points on the wrist to aid in a similar way throughout the day, and are also useful for motion sickness, which some describe as being similar to their pregnancy nausea.

Contact Your Provider

Sometimes, the inconvenience of nausea can be debilitating.  If you’re finding your symptoms to be impacting your day to day livelihood, there are several prescriptions that are available for you to consider during the most difficult times.  Ask your provider about Vitamin B supplements in your prenatal; adjusting to a higher dose might assist you.  Additionally, the two most commonly prescribed anti-nausea aids are Diclegis and Zofran.  Both have been evaluated by the FDA for their safety during pregnancy.  If you have any questions about which would be best for you, and your concerns about the affects of either drug, be sure to discuss these with your provider at your prenatal visit!

This glamorous features of pregnancy is an unfortunate step in the journey to welcoming your baby for many.  Hopefully this list will give you some methods to try and get you up and running throughout your day as quickly as possible, and you’ll be saying sayonara to sickness ASAP!