It seems that whenever a movie has a pregnant heroine, she’s shown trying to deal with nausea, usually at a very inconvenient time. There’s a reason these scenes appear in the plot: morning sickness is easy to recognize, and many mothers can relate to the heroine’s travails.
Although it’s rarely serious, morning sickness can make you feel very uncomfortable during the first trimester. However, the occasional vomiting of pregnancy can occasionally be much worse, making you feel extremely ill, ruining your social life, or making you miss work.
There is no easy cure for those who experience morning sickness, but medication, home remedies, supplements, and lifestyle changes can all help.
About morning sickness
Morning sickness comprises several uncomfortable digestive system symptoms that usually appear in the first four weeks of pregnancy and disappear in the second trimester.
Around 70% of women experience morning sickness, but, despite it being so common, we’re not entirely sure of its causes. The most likely cause seems to be pregnancy hormones, which increase quickly during early pregnancy and cause major changes in your body.
For about 3% of women, their morning sickness becomes so bad that they can’t keep anything down, a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). While this is a very unpleasant condition, our expert OB/GYN can help make sure you and your baby stay safe and healthy during this time.
What are the typical symptoms of morning sickness?
Classic morning sickness symptoms include:
- Motion sickness, especially when you’re not driving
- An aversion to strong-smelling foods
- Nausea soon after eating or when standing up
- Frequent heartburn or acid reflux
These symptoms tend to be more severe in the mornings, as getting out of bed often triggers a bout of nausea; however, symptoms can strike at any time of the day.
Morning sickness remedies
One of the biggest myths about morning sickness is that, since pregnant people shouldn’t take most medications, it is something that you just need to endure. In reality, there are many ways to relieve morning sickness, including traditional home remedies and medications that are safe to take when pregnant.
Can I adjust my lifestyle to relieve morning sickness?
Yes. Lifestyle modifications are usually the safest and cheapest way for you to gain relief. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends the following:
- Eat five or six small meals a day rather than one to three large ones
- Choose mild-smelling snacks, such as nuts or dried fruit
- Eat bland foods and complex carbohydrates at room temperature for your main meals
- Keep saltine crackers or white, dry toast by your bedside and eat a few pieces before getting out of bed
- Try the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast)
- Get out of bed as slowly as you can
- Avoid spicy, greasy, or strong-smelling foods (and, if possible, delegate cooking to someone else)
- Avoid taking your prenatal vitamins on an empty stomach
- Don’t lie down for at least 30 minutes after meals
- Take frequent rest stops on long car rides
What are home remedies for morning sickness?
Many herbal and alternative therapies have anti-nausea effects that can help your upset stomach, but they don’t work for everyone.
Talk to a doctor about the following morning sickness remedies:
- Ginger candies and lollipops, usually sold for motion sickness, can also ease nausea
- Drink ginger tea or real ginger ale (not the soda!) after meals
- Use an aromatherapy diffuser with peppermint or lime essential oils
- Some studies show that acupuncture may relieve morning sickness, but if you don’t like needles, you could try acupressure wristbands, such as SeaBand
Over-the-counter medicine for morning sickness
Some non-prescription medications that can diminish pregnancy nausea have been proven safe for pregnant women.
Unisom (doxylamine) and vitamin B6 supplements (pyridoxine) are approved for morning sickness relief, either alone or in combination. Doxylamine is an antihistamine that is often used as a sleep aid, but it also prevents nausea. Although we’re not sure why vitamin B6 helps, it’s likely because many pregnant people experience a B6 deficiency.
If you’re also suffering from acid reflux or GERD, try a calcium carbonate supplement like Tums.
When does morning sickness become hyperemesis gravidarum?
Although it’s relatively rare, once morning sickness becomes hyperemesis gravidarum, you must consult your healthcare practitioner. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms and consult our OB/GYN right away if you notice them.
- Vomiting persistently after every meal
- Inability to keep down food or liquids
- Symptoms of dehydration, such as dark urine, weakness, or lightheadedness
- Weight loss of at least five pounds
Patients with a family history of HG or a personal history of motion sickness or migraine headaches are at higher risk of developing HG during pregnancy. If you are at higher risk, be sure to consult with a doctor before your symptoms worsen.
How is hyperemesis gravidarum treated?
Zofran (ondansetron) is a medication prescribed to manage vomiting during chemotherapy, but several studies show it’s also effective for morning sickness. However, it is not yet approved by the FDA, as the extent of its effects on the fetus is unknown.
If you’re diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, your doctor will likely advise you to rest in bed for a few days, avoiding triggers like blinking lights, high-pitched noises, and car rides.
If you’re dehydrated, you may need to be monitored at the hospital for a few days, and your doctor will rehydrate you with electrolytes via a drip.
For most people, HG will start to go away on its own between weeks 12 and 16 of your pregnancy and will be gone completely by week 20. Twenty percent of pregnant people will need medical assistance for HG throughout their entire pregnancy.
Dr. Thaïs Aliabadi, a top OB/GYN in Los Angeles
Pregnancy is just one aspect of women’s health, but it is among the most joyous. Receiving compassionate and empathetic care during pregnancy can make all the difference in how well you deal with some of the more unpleasant symptoms and prevent complications.
Dr. Aliabadi believes in the importance of a strong, frank partnership between a woman and her doctor. She can help you design a plan that aligns with your priorities and values and will assist you throughout your pregnancy right up to birth. Your plan will include prenatal checkups and advising you on the options for managing your morning sickness.
We invite you to establish care with Dr. Aliabadi. Please make an appointment online or call us at (844) 863-6700. Dr. Aliabadi’s practice is conveniently located for patients throughout Southern California and the Los Angeles area. We are near Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, Culver City, Hollywood, Venice, Marina del Rey, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, and Downtown Los Angeles.