Monday, March 24, 2008

How to cope with morning sickness

Below are some tips beyond the typical "eat some crackers before rising" on how to deal with severe morning sickness that I have learned over the last few years and 5 pregnancies. If you have never suffered from "hyperemesis gravidarum" (translate: severe hyper-vomiting), count yourself lucky. If you do get terrible morning sickness, take comfort in the fact that it DOES usually indicate a very healthy pregnancy, and that it WILL end.

Please consult with your midwife/doctor if your condition keeps you from getting enough fluids or food. Dehydration is the major concern with severe morning sickness, and you may need to go to the hospital for intravenous fluid therapy.


- The most important thing is to try to get enough fluids. If you find yourself thirsty, your lips are getting chapped, etc. it is a sign that you are dehydrated.

- Many women find that the easiest thing to keep down is small sips of very cold ice water drunk through a straw. Glass cups are better tolerated than plastic (because of the plastic disflavoring the water). Try sucking on ice cubes, too.

- You can get more fluids through fruit such as watermelon, or through fruit sorbets (try to find an all natural kind with little or no sugar).

- A great drink to maintain your electrolyte balance is Emergen-C powdered drink packets (found at health food stores and some grocery stores). Gatorade etc. is not a great choice, but certainly better than drinking nothing. The more out of whack your electrolyte balance is, the harder it will be to keep more fluids down.


- Try to eat whatever it is that you are craving, even if that means ice cream or potato chips.

- Some very healthy foods, such as leafy greens or whole grains, may make you sicker. Try to stick to plain, bland things like white rice or a baked potato. Fruit is usually well tolerated, whereas vegetables are not.

- You may feel a lot better switching to all organic foods.

- Try to munch on something all day long, rather than eating a few large meals. Aim for something little at least every hour.

- The more protein you get, the better you will probably feel.

- Eating a diet low in saturated fats before becoming pregnant has been shown to reduce the severity of morning sickness.

- Greasy foods will make you a lot sicker, because your body will produce more bile.

- Following the "Brewer Pregnancy Diet" as soon as you find out that you are pregnant might help reduce your morning sickness.

- Make/buy small portions of everything. You may find that if you eat something once when you are sick, that food will then make you sick if you try to eat it again (negative association, I guess).

- Don't worry if you can't keep much food down, the baby will be fine.


- If you find that you get sick after taking your prenatal, try taking it at night right before bed. If you still get sick, try switching to a prenatal that has you taking several smaller pills each day rather than one big pill per day. Start with just one per day, and slowly work you way up until you feel you get sick again.

- You could also try to switch to a multivitamin that has no iron, which is usually the culprit for making you feel sick.

- If all else fails, you may need to skip taking your prenatal for now, or take just a folic acid supplement.


- Any stimulation to any of your senses can cause nausea. For example, loud noises or busy patterns can be just as disturbing as bad smells. If this is your first pregnancy, try resting in a cool, dark room as much as possible. If you already have older children, try to rest as much as possible and neglect other housework for the time being.

- Stay away from offensive smells such as cigarette smoke, coffee, perfume, deodorant, etc.

- Brushing your teeth can be another major trigger and induce vomiting. Try to at least brush once each day, and munch on carrots and apples to keep your teeth clean. If you can't brush after throwing up, at least rinse your mouth well with lots of water to get rid of the stomach acid (which can destroy your teeth really fast).

Natural remedies

- Ginger in any form is a good remedy, but you may find it hard to stomach. I have found liquid ginger extract to be the easiest form to take.

- I have also found "Morning Sickness Magic" capsules to be very helpful in reducing morning sickness.

- Distractions that occupy your mind without actually taking much thought can help you forget about your nausea for a little while, such as crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, computer games, etc. I never have time for any of these distractions, but find them very helpful when I am down sick.

- Wristbands for sea sickness may help with mild morning sickness, or take the edge off severe morning sickness.

- I have found the same to be true for vitamin B6 and B12 injections.


This list is far from conclusive. Please feel free to add your own remedies in the comments.


  1. Here are some things that helped me during my 5 pregnancies with my ALL DAY LONG AND EVEN WAKING ME UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT sickness.

    Ginger capsules, ginger tea (hot or cold, depending on craving) ginger candy, ginger ale (make sure the ingredient is real ginger, some grocery store ginger ale uses artificial ginger flavoring.) Verner's ginger ale has a good mild, sweet taste.

    Mild food, mashed potatoes, white rice, french bread from the grocery store. Rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Not the best nutrition here but if you can get something in your stomach, you will be able to tolerate other more nutritious foods.

    Ice cold foods have less flavor so I was able to handle better. Cold soups. Cold fruit. Iced teas, ice water. Ice. And icecream : )

    Cut a lemon slice and sniff it. Lemon in iced water. Small slices of lemon pie (without the egg meringue). I used those Hostess fruit pies. Again, not good nutrition but if I could eat some of the pie, then I could get keep some better food down. Don't have morning sickness in February because Hostess will replace all the Lemon pies with Cherry, Oh No!!

    Mint teas. Mint candy (good ones are those star mints they give out at restaurants).

    If you can't tolerate your prenatal vitamins, try children's vitamins. I would take some of my children's chewable gummi bear vitamins. Bring the bottle to your midwife to check that you're not getting too much of some components, my midwife didn't want me to get too much vit A.

    Ask your midwife about Meclizine for motion sickness. This helped me a lot controlling the intense nausea.

    One thing I neglected during my last pregnancy was the health of my teeth. Definitely rinse well after any vomiting. When I went to the dentist I had 10 cavities!! Ugh! Next time I'll try the new xylitol gums or rinses to see if I can tolerate them.

    Avoid smells as much as possible. With toddlers in the house, well, you have to deal with diapers. If you use cloth, maybe switch to disposables for a month or so. I had to avoid cooking with onions and garlic, that smell lingers and I couldn't even be in the house.

  2. I'm just rereading this post now because at almost 15 weeks I am still suffering from morning (all day) sickness with this baby. One thing that has helped some is ginger--either crystallized or ginger ale. I have also found that the "Preggie Pop Drops" sold at baby stores help a little, but they are awfully expensive.

    I find that I can't drink much of anything if it is not absolutely ice cold. Hoping this will all stop soon.

  3. I tried it all the only thing that stopped it was my doctor putting me on Zofran after I ended up hospitalized because I couldn't even hold down small sips of water. Fruit always tended to be my go to food, minty our sour gum helped as did Preggie-Pops and sour gummie candies. Ginger has never been my thing pregnant or not it always tasted too strong. Unsweetened tea with lots of ice seemed to help the nausea and heartburn so they were staples in my diet. The only meats I could handle were grilled chicken or venison.


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