Common Cures for Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is perhaps the most talked about early pregnancy complication. In fact, some doctors estimate that up to 90% of women will experience some degree of morning sickness during their first trimester. While some women won’t experience it in the slightest, others will have such intense morning sickness that your doctor will need to help.

Chances are you’ve never experienced an especially intense round of morning sickness, but since every pregnancy is different, you may be having new experiences this time around that have you feeling sick and confused. Here’s how to cope.

First of all, let’s talk about what causes morning sickness. The short answer is that doctor’s still aren’t 100% sure what causes that nauseated feeling, or why some women experience it while others do not. The working theory, however, is that it has to do with how your body reacts to the human growth hormone, hCG. And yes, morning sickness can happen at any time of day.

Step 1

Don’t listen to what worked for other people. Conventional wisdom teaches us that, if we’re experiencing morning sickness, the first thing we should do is ask others who have experienced it themselves what worked to help them manage it. But new research shows that the fabled remedy of saltine crackers and ginger ale are just as effective for some women as lemonade and Cheetos for others. So, instead of listening to those around you, listen to your body. If you’re craving olives and mayonnaise, chances are it’ll help settle your stomach – even if it does sound weird.

Step 2

Most women will find that there is a common link to their instances of nausea and vomiting. Start by keeping a journal to try and find that common thread. Maybe taking your prenatal vitamin on an empty stomach causes you to vomit. Perhaps it’s the smell of your former favorite hand lotion. For some women, it’s the very thought of raw chicken. It doesn’t have to make sense, but there is very likely a common thread with the onset of your sickness. Once you figure out what it is, you can avoid it.

Step 3

Eat often. Most women report that having an empty stomach only exaggerates the feeling of being sick. So, if you can, try eating small amounts of food continuously throughout your day. If food doesn’t sound appetizing, start with the BRAT diet: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast. This is a diet that focuses on bland, easily digestible foods that are less likely to further upset an already testy stomach.

Step 4

Stay hydrated. Dehydration is a real concern for those dealing with morning sickness. Not only is it dangerous for you, it could cause complications for the pregnancy as well. Doctors recommend a minimum of 64 ounces of water a day but are quick to concede that sometimes water is hard to manage when you’re feeling sick. If you can’t stomach water, reach for herbal teas, carbonated beverages with bite (like ginger beer), or watermelon.

Step 5

If nothing else is working, some women have over-the-counter type remedies they swear by. Some women will add a vitamin B-6 capsule to their multi-vitamin, and others will invest in sea-bands. These bracelets put pressure on certain points on your wrist and some believe them to help calm the stomach.

When to Call Your Doctor

Even though doctors consider morning sickness a normal part of the first trimester, there are times when you need to call your doctor for help. If your sickness is getting in the way of your daily life, meaning you can’t make it to work, take the kids to soccer practice, or feel like you need to carry plastic bags in your purse, it might be time to call the doctor. There are a variety of pregnancy safe anti-nausea meds that your doctor can prescribe to help you. If your sickness is so severe that you can’t keep anything down for 24 hours or greater, or if you’ve lost significant weight, it’s time to call the doctor. As previously mentioned, dehydration is a real concern. In about 1% of morning sickness cases, a woman may need to be hospitalized to keep her and the embryo healthy.

There is good news, though!

Studies increasingly show that women with little to no morning sickness may have lower levels of hCG, leading to an eventual miscarriage. So, if you are feeling a bit sick, try to see it as a good sign that your pregnancy is strong. As you quest to calm your queasy stomach continues, take a deep breath. For most women, morning sickness will subside by the fourth month of pregnancy.

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for intended parents, surrogates and donors. She is the co-owner of Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019) as well as the children's book You Began as a Wish (Independent Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. She has two adult daughters.