Morning Sickness/ Nausea

Help for Morning Sickness

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 Every pregnancy is different and a woman who is mildly nauseous with one pregnancy may vomit and be hospitalized with the next.  If you are reading this, be comforted that you are not alone.  Half of all pregnant women suffer from some degree of nausea during pregnancy. Common tips to ease morning sickness include crackers and ginger, but what else can you do?

The list below is grouped into sections and is culled from a variety of sources, internet sites and books which are listed at the end, along with posts by other PSP members.   Of course, the list would not be complete without a few uniquely ‘New York’ items that speak to coping with pregnancy in the city.

Remember: The key is to work with your midwife or OB and try a variety of things until you find what works for you.  Keep in mind that as your pregnancy progresses, the nausea may change and what worked initially might not work the next week.




•    Try to keep your environment as stress-free as possible.  Let people know that this is an important part of feeling better for you so they can support you accordingly
•    Get plenty of fresh air either by walking outside or sitting near an open window
•    Avoid strong cooking smells especially garlic/onion, fatty or spicy ones
•    Have your partner feed the pets and you should not be emptying litter boxes either due to a risk of toxoplasmosis
•    Hold your breath when you walk by kabob carts on the street
•    If you can, walk up a street with less traffic to avoid automobile exhaust
•    Walk a bit further to ride a subway where you can get a seat – the walk will also do you good
•    Steer clear of chemical smells and cleansers, ditto for cigarette smoke
•    Try replacing your shampoos and soaps with an uplifting mint or lemon scented variety – some scents smell very offensive during pregnancy




•    If you work at a desk, be sure to get up often and walk around the office.  
•    If you are exposed to fumes or chemicals at work, or other physical conditions that aggravate your nausea, you may need to move to another department or get different assignment while you are sick.
•    If you need to go on some kind of disability your employer may ask you to use your maternity leave in advance and then tap into the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) time after that.  If you need to take time off or work shorter days, the sooner you negotiate this the less stressful it will be.
•    Use your lunch hour to get some exercise outside by walking if you can
•    Keep a stash of snacks at work and keep it well stocked – blanched almonds, crackers, fruit, hard candy, ginger chews, nutrition bars, digestive teas, whatever is working for you at the moment.  




It is believed that keeping food in the stomach helps curb nausea.  If you are able, eating protein in the evening can help you get through the night more comfortably and eating small meals throughout the day is also beneficial.  Crackers really are indispensable, even if they are overrated as a cure-all. Find a nutritious variety that you can stomach and keep some in your bag, next to the bed, and at the office.  Regardless of what you are able to eat at a given time, try to choose the healthiest, whole food options you can stomach that do not contain added sugar.  When you are not eating a lot, the quality of food becomes even more important.  What works for you food-wise will be very personal and what makes one woman well may make another one sick, so don’t give up trying to find something you can keep down.  The following are some general tips and a list of foods that work for most people.


General Food


•    Limit seasonings including garlic and most culinary herbs and spices
•    If you can, avoid eating just carbs and try to get protein – even beans and protein powder can help minimize nausea and reduce blood sugar crashes.  
•    Avoid eating food and drinking at the same time or drink a very small amount if eating.
•    Try cutting out dairy and meat - they are high in fat and slow to digest and can bog your digestive system down as well as the smell may be unbearable  
•    Breathe from a cut lemon slice while eating to keep the gag reflex at bay or read something that distracts you while eating.
•    Eat food at room temperature.  This limits aromas which may cause nausea
•    You may have a couple weeks or longer where you can eat almost nothing – take heart that it will most likely pass and try to keep hydrated and eat what you can
•    If you are vomiting, rest a while and then try to keep something more simple down.  If crackers won’t stay down, try a small amount of warm water or a dextrose/saline solution.


Specific Food


•    BRAT – this is the basic diet that most people who cannot hold food down are able to cope with and it stands for Bananas, Rice, Apples/Apple Juice, and Toast.  For the most part it works for morning sickness.  Apples are often very helpful, but watch out for some kinds of apple sauce which can be acidic.  
•    Carbs – whole grain pasta, mashed potatoes, rice dishes – the more bland, the better, whole grain rice cereal,  Be careful combining protein, if you are able to eat meat, with carbs and if you do eat the meat first.
•    Fruit – apples (gala are good), bananas, papaya, pineapple, pears
•    Vegetables – most greens will be completely offensive.  Also avoid cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts.  Tomatoes will probably be too acidic.  Good veggies are: sweet potatoes, butternut squash (soup), carrots, string beans, peas, sugar snap peas, zucchini.  Steaming and tossing with a bit of salt is usually a good method.
•    Rice Milk is well tolerated.  Too much soy contributes more estrogen to your already burdened system and is contraindicated in people with low thyroid.  Cow’s milk may sour in your stomach.
•    Legumes - split pea soup (homemade with peas, carrots, veg boullion and salt is mild and nutritious).  Adzuki beens are high in protein and good mixed with rice.  Chickpeas and most other beans are good tossed with rice wine vinegar, honey and a bit of salt.  
•    Almonds and almond butter is a good source of protein.  An almond butter and banana sandwich makes a good meal.  Eat raw almonds - soak overnight and peel skins – for good protein & calcium and they settle the stomach




•   Drinking tepid water in small amounts throughout the day and keep track to make sure you are getting enough.
•   Naked brand Protein Juice Smoothie - a little at a time
•   If you are throwing up, try a homemade dextrosaline solution for hydration:  1pint H2o, juice of 1/2 lime, pinch salt, 2tsp sugar - drink 1c every 2 hrs to help nausea and vomiting subside.  Keep a bottle of water bedside and drink at night.
•   Drink warm tea: Fennel, ginger, mint. Yogi Teas makes one called 'Stomach Ease' with a bunch of good stuff in it. Warm beverages aid digestion. Cold
ones slow it down.
•   Ginger
•   Other Supplements
•   Alternative Therapies


Final Words


If you are coping with nausea only, you will find many of the remedies listed below helpful.  It is unlikely that your OB or midwife will prescribe medication and you will need to rely on these methods.  If you are vomiting, especially if it is all day and you are unable to keep food and fluids down, your doctor will likely intervene with prescription medications and possibly hospitalization or IV fluids if you become dehydrated.  Regardless of your degree of nausea, natural remedies can be very helpful. 

Unfortunately, no one is exactly sure what causes morning sickness but it would seem that the cause is a combination of issues related to the chemical changes your body is going through.


Further Resources


As an expectant parent, join a PSP Baby Group! Pregnant Moms start meeting before their babies are born so you’ll bond through the whole process!