Natural Remedies for Morning Sickness

pregnant woman sitting on her bed feeling sick

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There’s a lot to look forward to when you are expecting a baby, but that doesn’t mean pregnancy is all sunshine and rainbows. Just a few weeks into a pregnancy, most people experience a bit of queasiness—and for many, it’s not just a bit. Up to 80% of pregnant people are plagued with morning sickness, which is characterized by nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.

Contrary to popular belief, morning sickness isn’t just confined to the morning. People who experience morning sickness will tell you that the waves of nausea can happen at any time of day. If you are experiencing morning sickness, you are probably looking for some relief.

Most healthcare professionals don’t prescribe medication for morning sickness unless you have developed an extreme case of it, or a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, which results in dehydration and weight loss. As such, many pregnant individuals are looking for more natural methods to relieve that pesky morning sickness.

Thankfully, there are a lot of effective and safe natural remedies to relieve morning sickness. Read on for some of our favorite options.

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What Does Morning Sickness Feel Like?

What Causes Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is still a bit of a mystery. “We are not sure what causes morning sickness,” explains Adi Davidov, MD, associate chair and director of gynecology at Staten Island University Hospital.

Dr. Davidov says that most doctors believe morning sickness results from human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), the pregnancy hormone that circulates in the highest amounts during early pregnancy. This might be why so many pregnant people experience the most intense morning sickness symptoms in their first trimester.

Jill Purdie, MD, OB/GYN and medical director at Northside Women’s Specialists, part of Pediatrix Medical Group, says that both the high levels of HCG and estrogen may alter a pregnant person’s sense of smell and taste, in turn causing nausea. She notes that morning sickness is even more common in those who are gestating twins or other multiples, likely because they have greater amounts of hormones circulating.

Some expectant parents have a tougher time with morning sickness than others. If you are unable to keep anything down, develop signs of dehydration and electrolyte loss, or lose significant amounts of weight, you might be experiencing a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum.

If this is the case, you should be in close contact with your medical providers. “Severe morning sickness can have negative impacts on the pregnancy,” Dr. Davidov. “If a woman exhibits persistent vomiting and cannot eat or drink anything—she may become severely dehydrated and therefore she must seek immediate medical attention.”

The good news is that hyperemesis gravidarum is not common, affecting between 0.2% and 5% of pregnancies. Still, even mild or moderate bouts of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy can really impact your life. Morning sickness usually begins between 4 and 8 weeks of pregnancy and isn’t over for most of us until 14 or 16 weeks. That’s a long time to feel icky!  

Natural Remedies

Fortunately, there are several natural remedies you can try to get some relief from your morning sickness. Most are simple and inexpensive. Of course, before trying any natural remedy, you should consult with your healthcare provider.

Change the Frequency and Timing of Your Meals

It might seem counterintuitive, but having an empty stomach is more apt to make you queasy when you are pregnant. As such, most experts advise eating more frequently than you are used to.

“The dietary change that helps the most is eating small and frequent meals,” Dr. Purdie advises. “Oftentimes not eating for long periods can actually make the symptoms worse.”

She recommends five to six small meals throughout the day so that your tummy is never fully empty. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends adding protein to your meals when possible, as protein can help settle your stomach.

Avoid Strong Smells and Scents

Pregnant people are like bloodhounds: Their sense of smell is heightened, and even the smallest offensive odor can make them feel nauseous. They also tend to be more sensitive to strong flavors in foods.

“Women should avoid foods or smells that bother them,” Dr. Purdie suggests. “Also avoid spicy or heavy foods and focus more on bland foods and things that are easy to digest.”

If you are feeling really queasy and your stomach is unsettled, Dr. Davidov recommends adopting the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast).

Try Aromatherapy

Although pregnant individuals are more sensitive to offensive odors, they seem to respond well to pleasant smells, and sometimes find those smells soothing. One study found that aromatherapy with lemon and peppermint essential oils had a positive effect on morning sickness. For minor to moderate bouts of morning sickness, aromatherapy reduces intensity.

Importantly, in this study, subjects inhaled the essential oils after drops were placed on a cotton ball. Essential oils should not be ingested or applied directly to the skin.

Change Your Prenatal Vitamin

It’s important that you get all the important nutrients you need, and prenatal vitamins are a vital part of staying healthy during pregnancy, especially if you are having trouble keeping food down. That said, some of us find our prenatal vitamins nauseating, or find that they contribute to uncomfortable symptoms such as constipation.

“The iron in prenatal vitamins may make nausea worse, so during the first trimester, taking a vitamin without iron may be helpful if nausea is a problem,” says Dr. Purdie.

Additionally, you might consider taking your prenatal vitamin at a time when you are less nauseous, or take it with food, to aid in digestion. If you are going to change vitamins, make sure to discuss this with your healthcare provider. There may be more than one option available to you.

Get Some Fresh Air

Stepping outside or opening a window might also help. “For some women, walking outdoors in the fresh air will help with their nausea and vomiting,” says Dr. Purdie. It’s also a good idea to keep the rooms you are in well ventilated. You can run a fan to circulate the air.

Pregnant people can also more easily become overheated, so keep your home cool when possible. Try to avoid bright, flickering lights when you are nauseous, and sit down when you are feeling queasy.

Ginger

There’s a reason that people go for a can of ginger ale when they are feeling nauseous. There is ample evidence that ginger can decrease nausea, including during pregnancy. The positive effects of ginger on morning sickness have been studied for around 30 years.

Of course, it’s probably best to shy away from ginger in the form of sugary beverages and candy. There are ginger teas that you can brew, and you can incorporate fresh ginger into your cooking. Ginger is also available in capsule form; talk to your healthcare provider about an amount that is best for you to take.

Try Acupuncture

Dr. Davidov has found acupuncture to be effective in relieving morning sickness for some of her patients. One study found acupuncture effective in treating nausea and “dry retching” in pregnant patients. Other studies have found possible positive effects of acupuncture on treating hyperemesis gravidarum.

Wristbands (such as sea bands) that stimulate an acupressure point on the wrist, called the P6 point, may also be helpful in reducing nausea. The P6 point is located a few inches below your wrist, in line with your middle finger. For relief, you can gently press on this point when you are feeling nauseous.

Vitamin B6 Supplements

Vitamin B6 supplements are recommended by ACOG to treat nausea, and Dr. Purdie agrees with this recommendation. “Women may also use vitamin B6 supplements for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy,” she says. “Vitamin B6, 10 to 25 mg taken three times a day, is the recommendation.”

Sometimes it’s recommended to take Vitamin B6 along with doxylamine, an antihistamine, a treatment also recommended by ACOG. This can help you sleep if nausea is bothering you. Of course, you should only try this after consulting with your healthcare provider.

A Word From Verywell

When it comes to treating morning sickness during pregnancy, there are lots of options to try. Everyone is different, so it’s a good idea to try several various remedies to figure out what works best for you. Many of us need to combine a few different methods to get optimal relief.

The important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t just try to push through morning sickness: you deserve to find some relief for your symptoms. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are not finding adequate relief. If you are experiencing severe vomiting that includes weight loss and dehydration, you should reach out to your healthcare provider promptly, as you may need medical treatment.

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10 Sources
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