Almost 9 out of 10 pregnant women suffer from morning sickness during pregnancy (medical term: nausea and vomiting of pregnancy), yet it’s one of the most under treated diagnoses out there. Women chalk it up to “normal changes”, “to be expected”, a “sign that the pregnancy is normal”. There is some truth to these statements … but still. No one should have to suck up months of nausea and vomiting when there are some remedies to help you through!
Why it is under treated?
For a few reasons:
- Women and doctors wonder and worry about the safety of medications during early pregnancy. Thalidomide? Yeah. That was given as a treatment for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.
- We don’t know the exact reason women get morning sickness (really, potentially, all day sickness). And we don’t know why some women avoid it altogether and others require hospitalization. There is such a broad range of severity of symptoms. This makes it challenging to study remedies.
- Nausea and vomiting are regarded as a normal part of pregnancy. The symptoms go away on their own. The projected timeline for the majority of women: start around 6 weeks, peak between 7-12 weeks, and resolve by 16-18 weeks. Self resolving symptoms don’t usually get a lot of attention.
My argument for treating women with nausea and vomiting:
- Many medications have been shown to be safe and effective for reducing the severity of symptoms – see below!
- There are many many many non-medicinal remedies that may work. We don’t know what will work best for YOU, but let’s find out!
- Uncontrolled symptoms can reduce a woman’s quality of life and cause a woman to miss out on work and other activities. Not to mention they can be a huge giveaway that you’re pregnant when you aren’t ready to let that secret slip.
- If we can control the symptoms early, we can often control the severity of symptoms too. Prevention and preventing escalation of symptoms is key!
So let’s discuss some remedies:
First: lifestyle adjustments! (6 of my promised 11)
- Never have an empty stomach. Small, frequent meals will be your friend. I’m talking a few crackers every 1-2 hours. That simple. That small. That frequent.
- High carb. Low fat. Dry food. Protein. A friend of mine only ate cheese quesadillas for 6 weeks early in her pregnancy. She gained weight, yes, but she felt better.
- 3 Cs: cold, clear, carbonated. This is what my brother calls a Pellegrino party (San Pellegrino just happened to be my best friend).
- Wait 20-30 minutes to drink anything after eating. The combo of food and fluids in your stomach may cause more bloating and make you uncomfortable.
- Avoid smells that trigger the nausea. Sometimes that may be your soap. Or your man’s deodorant. Or your favorite (um, former favorite) chili recipe.
- Pay attention to your prenatal vitamin. Avoid taking it on an empty stomach. If it’s just too much for you, try a gummy, or a gel capsule form, or one without iron, or take a folic acid supplement instead of the whole prenatal vitamin (ask your doctor if this is ok for you!)
Second: complementary treatments! (The other 5 to make the headline NOT fake news)
- Acupuncture. If you’ve never tried it you absolutely should. Many acupuncturists specialize in fertility and pregnancy condition. Go to them!
- Acupressure. Apply pressure at P6 – the inside of the wrist (you’re going to have to look this one up).
- Gentle massage. Try a head / shoulder combo, sitting up.
- Herbal teas or aromatics – ginger, mint, lemon or orange are good places to start.
- Meditation. Makes everything better.
Third, and last resort if the above aren’t cutting it: medications! (Giving you some extras, for sticking with me)
- Vitamin B6 and doxylamine. The prescription form of this combo is Dicelgis. Check their website for some coupons because it can be expensive. Or you can DIY with the OTC (over the counter) version – vitamin B6 and Unisom.
- Other possible prescriptions your doctor may discuss with you (or you can bring up to her!): Phenergan, Reglan, and Zofran.
And there you go. I bet you’re feeling better already!
WEEKLY EMAIL TO YOUR INBOX! No spam. Only the good stuff, in one weekly email.
I am a board certified OBGYN at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles.
I am co-founder of Female Health Education, a platform offering digital courses, striving to empower females through health education.
My passion is promoting and demystifying health information to the public. My blog, Dr. Sara Twogood’s LadyParts Blog, provides comprehensive information about fertility, pregnancy, and gynecology topics. I am on the medical board for the period tracker app Flo; contribute as a medical expert for pregnancy app and website The Bump; and serve on the Byrdie Beauty and Wellness Review Board (Byrdie.com). I have been featured as an expert for the podcasts The Dream and Her body, Her Story and quoted in numerous online and print publications.
I am honored to be named “Top Doctor” in Los Angeles magazine for years.