What Causes Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness is pregnancy nausea. It doesn’t necessarily occur only in the morning. Pregnancy nausea can occur all day. It is your body’s response to the pregnancy hormones, hCG. Home pregnancy tests test for this hormone, hCG. While morning sickness can be extremely unpleasant it is actually a reassuring sign of pregnancy. Women who experience nausea during pregnancy have lower rates of miscarriage. So you can consider yourself lucky!
Your body responds to hCG with nausea to protect your pregnancy. This nausea prevents you from drinking alcohol, eating expired foods and smoking cigarettes. In some cases nausea may set in before you even know you are pregnant!
When Does Morning Sickness Begin?
Pregnancy nausea typically:
- Begins around week 6
- Peaks around week 10 and
- Resolves by the end of the first trimester.
In some cases morning sickness can continue throughout pregnancy. If morning sickness continues and is accompanied by vomiting, you may have a condition known as hyperemesis gravidum.
How to Get Rid of Morning Sickness?
Fortunately time is in your favor. However, there are some nausea remedies that can help make early pregnancy more manageable.
#1 Vitamin B6
No one really understands why vitamin B6 relieves morning sickness, but it works. One thinking is that women become deficient in vitamin B6 in pregnancy and that this deficiency worsens pregnancy nausea. Therefore, by replacing the B6 vitamin, the nausea improves.
If you decide to take Vitamin B6, you should take 10 to 25 mg every 6 to 8 hours. Many vitamin B6 supplements are higher doses. The maximum dose is 200mg/day so there is a large range of safe dosing. All studies evaluating the safety of vitamin B6 have found no risks to mom or baby. However, I have provided a link for a vitamin B6 supplement that contains just 25mg of vitamin B6.
#2 Eat small, frequent meals
Nausea worsens when your stomach is empty. Your stomach acid accumulates making you feel more nauseous. Similarly, when you eat a large meal your stomach becomes overly full. This can also worsen your nausea.
It is best to eat small, frequent meals. Also try to select mild foods. Foods like toast, chicken soup and bananas are typically easier to digest. Avoid spicy and greasy foods.
I recommend ginger tea for pregnancy nausea. Anything with ginger can help nausea. Some women find that ginger chews help decrease morning sickness or dried ginger. Fresh ginger is better than ginger flavoring, but even the taste of ginger flavored foods can help decrease pregnancy nausea. This ginger tea does contain fresh ginger and honey. Target also sells an organic ginger tea that contains lemon peel and orange peel and specifically created to target morning sickness.
In the beginning of my pregnancy I would carry these ginger chews wherever I went just in case I felt a wave of nausea coming on.
#4 Continue to take Folate
You may find it difficult to stomach your prenatal vitamins with the nausea and/or vomiting of early pregnancy. The ingredient is prenatal vitamins that is uneasy on your stomach is the iron. While iron is extremely important in pregnancy, you could hold off your iron supplement while you are nauseous. However, it is very important in early pregnancy to get folic acid, or folate. You can find a prenatal vitamin that doesnt contain iron, or at least just take a folate supplement, ideally methyl-folate. Folate is essential to prevent neural tube defects.
If you are looking for a prenatal vitamin, checkout my article on the Best Prenatal Vitamins of 2018.
If you nausea is really severe and isn’t relieved by any of the other remedies, you should try Unisom. In fact, the prescription medication for pregnancy nausea, Diclegis, is a combination of Unisom and vitamin B6. Warning! Unisom is a sleep-aide so only take it before bed! I have had many patients in the past tell me Unisom makes them too sleepy- that is the point of Unisom. However, if you take it before bed you shouldn’t experience any negative side effects (and may even find it easier to sleep!) When purchasing Unisom it is important you select the SleepTabs that contain Doxylamine, not Diphenhydramine. You can begin by taking half a tablet at bedtime and increase to 1 tablet at bedtime as tolerated. Research has found that Doxylamine combined with Vitamin B6 is very effective for pregnancy nausea and vomiting.
#6 Preggie Pops
People have mixed success with Preggie Pops. They are lozenges containing essential oils. The Preggie Pop Drops Plus also contains vitamin B6. They come in a variety of sour flavors to help ease morning sickness. They could be a good option if you don’t like the strong taste of ginger in the ginger chews, but you still want something to take on the go. My only hesitation with this product is that it doesn’t list which essential oils it contains. It only says “proprietary blend”. Not all essential oils are safe in pregnancy. So I would be hesitant to use these unless they are a last resort.