The first flush of pregnancy is something every mom-to-be should be able to savor. But if morning sickness is getting in your way, know that you’re not alone. Over 80% of women experience nausea during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and 50% will have to grapple with bouts of vomiting during their pregnancy. And though called “morning sickness,” these bouts of nausea or vomiting aren’t really confined to the mornings. The good news is that though unpleasant, morning sickness doesn’t typically cause any harm. It also usually clears somewhere between 16 to 20 weeks.
If you do, however, experience severe vomiting and nausea – a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum – you should seek medical attention. For most women, though, some simple home remedies can work well to ease the discomfort of morning sickness.1 Here’s what you can do for relief:
1. Have Dry Toast Or Crackers Before You Get Up
If you’re prone to feeling sick as soon as you wake up, eating crackers or dry toast before you get out of bed can be helpful. They’ll help settle your stomach and also give you some energy. You might also want to ease yourself out of bed slowly and gently so you don’t feel woozy.
2. Have Small Frequent Meals And Sip Lots Of Fluids
If you find it hard to keep down large meals, eat small meals frequently. Eating some food at regular intervals can also help since an empty tummy can trigger nausea. Also, sip water frequently to stay hydrated. Having little sips of water rather than large quantities at one go will also reduce the chances of vomiting.2 And you don’t need to restrict yourself to plain water to up your fluid intake. Drinking nutritious coconut water, fruit or vegetable juices, and even milk can help.
3. Avoid Hot Meals
If you’re partial to hot meals, it might be time to try something different. Usually, there’s nothing as appetizing as the aroma of a piping hot meal. But during pregnancy, things take a turn and these very smells can be nauseating. So having your meals at room temperature or even slightly colder can help since cold food doesn’t smell as strongly as hot food.3
4. Stay Away From Greasy And Spicy Food
Many women find that greasy, fried, or spicy food can trigger nausea during pregnancy. Instead, opt for foods that are high in carbohydrate and protein, which tend to be tolerated better. Ayurveda recommends light porridges made of rice and pulses as well as milk during this period.45
5. Maintain A “Trigger” Diary
To get a better handle on your tummy’s pet peeves, keep a symptom diary to track which foods cause nausea. You can also use it to figure out if there are particular times during the day when you’re prone to vomiting or nausea. Certain smells such as that of coffee or tea or actions like standing up suddenly also work as a trigger. Jotting it all down can help you identify a pattern and then avoid these landmines. You may also find that some things can help you sidestep nausea, say taking it easy during the first leg of the day or having a snack every couple of hours.6
6. Get Enough Rest
Moving around a lot and being tired can exacerbate morning sickness. Make sure you get plenty of rest to keep that queasy feeling at bay. Most women find that lying down for a while can ease nausea. But you’ll need to figure out what works best for you – in some cases, it can make symptoms worse.7
7. Smell Some Lemons
In one study, pregnant women who inhaled the scent of lemon essential oil as soon as they felt nauseous found it helped reduce the symptoms.8 So place a diffuser with a few drops of lemon essential oil in your bedroom or a dab a little on your hankie to ease that queasy feeling. You can also carry a fragrant lemon with you.
8. Try Aromatherapy With Essential Oil Blends
While lemon seems to be the go-to fragrance for morning sickness, other essential oils can also work wonders. Try inhaling the scent of a blend of 4 drops of ginger oil, 1 drop of melissa oil, and a drop of rose oil. Or you might find that 2 drops each of cardamom, ginger, and sweet orange oil work for you. Do keep in mind that while peppermint oil is commonly used to fight nausea, it might not be advisable to use this essential oil during pregnancy.9 10
9. Drink Ginger Tea
Research shows that ginger is effective at easing nausea. A compound called 6- gingerol present in it is thought to be responsible for this beneficial effect.11 Steep half to one teaspoon of freshly grated ginger in hot water and strain to make a cup of soothing ginger tea. Drink up to ease nausea.12
10. Apply Pressure Three Finger Breadths Beneath Your Wrist
Acupressure is based on the traditional Chinese belief that disease is caused by the blockage of energy flow in the body. The stimulation of specific body points can restore health by removing these energy blockages. Many studies have found that stimulating the acupressure point known as P6, which lies three finger breadths beneath your wrist on the inside of your arm, can help ease nausea and vomiting.13 You can simply apply pressure on this point with your fingers when you feel a wave of nausea coming. Acupressure bracelets that stimulate this point are also available.
11. Have Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is important for the development of your baby’s brain. Another reason you should make sure you get enough of this vitamin? It may very well help ease nausea during pregnancy. One study found that when pregnant women were given 25 mg vitamin B 6 tablets every 8 hours for 72 hours, those with severe nausea experienced significant relief.14 Foods like fish, poultry, and potatoes are rich in this vitamin. It’s also found in foods like bread, milk, and wholegrain cereals such as brown rice, wheat germ, and oatmeal which are easier on the stomach.15 You can also take supplements with your doctor’s go-ahead – having more than 100 mg in a day may be harmful so be careful about over-supplementation.16
12. Practice Yoga
Yoga practice during pregnancy has been found to help with stress, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and low back pain. And it might help ease morning sickness too. Asanas such as balasana (child’s pose), ardha chandrasana (half moon pose) and prasarita padottanasana (wide-legged forward bend) can be particularly helpful. Be sure to reach out to an experienced yoga practitioner for guidance before you practice these.17
|↑1, ↑3||Nausea and morning sickness. National Health Service.|
|↑2||Pregnancy – morning sickness. Department of Health & Human Services.|
|↑4, ↑6, ↑7||Coping Strategies. Pregnancy Sickness Support.|
|↑5||Lakshmi, Vijay, and Sarika Srivastav. “Garbhini paricharya: Antenatal care in Ayurveda.” Journal of Ayurveda and Holistic Medicine (JAHM) 1, no. 8 (2013): 24-31.|
|↑8||Safajou, Farzaneh, Mahnaz Shahnazi, and Hossein Nazemiyeh. “The effect of lemon inhalation aromatherapy on nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: a double-blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trial.” Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal 16, no. 3 (2014).|
|↑9||Wilson, Roberta. Aromatherapy: essential oils for vibrant health and beauty. Penguin, 2002.|
|↑10||Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 600 Natural, Non-Toxic and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health Beauty a Safe Home Environment. New world library, 2012.|
|↑11||Ernst, E., and M. H. Pittler. “Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials.” British journal of anaesthesia 84, no. 3 (2000): 367-371.|
|↑12||Monks at Kauai’s Hindu Monastery. Monks’ Cookbook. Himalayan Academy, 2005.|
|↑13||Fan, Chin-Fu, Eduardo Tanhui, Sanjoy Joshi, Shivang Trivedi, Yiyan Hong, and Ketan Shevde. “Acupressure treatment for prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting.” Anesthesia & Analgesia 84, no. 4 (1997): 821-825.|
|↑14||Sahakian, Vicken, Dwight Rouse, Susan Sipes, Nancy Rose, and Jennifer Niebyl. “Vitamin B6 is effective therapy for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study.” Obstetrics & Gynecology 78, no. 1 (1991): 33-36.|
|↑15||Vitamins and minerals. National Health Service.|
|↑16||Vitamin B6. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑17||Worby, Cynthia. The everything yoga book: Improve your strength, flexibility, and sense of well-being. Simon and Schuster, 2011.|