She woke up with a sick feeling every morning. Her friends warned her about morning sickness, but she never expected her new morning routine would be a sprint to the restroom. Her medical providers offered prescription medication, but she wanted to avoid taking any unnecessary chemicals.
Nausea and vomiting occur in up to 90% of pregnancies. For many, these symptoms are a mild annoyance. Others develop a severe form called hyperemesis gravidarum. Many women want to treat this common problem with natural remedies instead of prescription medications.
What causes nausea in pregnancy?
What exactly causes nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is not fully understood. Scientists do recognize the contributing factors. One of these is the hormonal changes that occur, especially in the first trimester. High levels of estrogen, progesterone, and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) trigger many women’s nausea and vomiting.
These pregnancy-related hormones slow our ability to digest food properly. They can also lead to smooth muscle relaxation in the gastrointestinal tract, which can cause gastrointestinal reflux disease (heartburn).
Genetic factors play a role. Some studies have shown that women with severe nausea and vomiting during their pregnancy also had first degree relatives with the same pregnancy symptoms.
Even though we don’t understand why some women have severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy and some don’t, the good news is that some natural remedies have been proven to show significant improvement in the patient’s symptoms and overall well-being.
Supplement with Vitamin B-6
Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a vital role in brain development and keeping the nervous and immune systems healthy. It is not produced naturally by the body. We get it only through the foods we eat and supplements.
Vitamin B-6 is a safe first-line treatment for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Over-the-counter vitamin B-6 (25mg) taken three times a day during pregnancy has decreased nausea and vomiting symptoms and improved appetite.
Try taking ginger
Some women find food and supplements containing ginger to be helpful. Ginger is available in a variety of forms. Capsule, candies, teas, and ginger ale can help soothe an upset stomach.
Many women report a reduction in nausea and vomiting symptoms with this ancient remedy, and some medical studies support ginger products’ effectiveness.
Snack to keep the stomach from feeling empty
Another way to help decrease the chance of suffering from nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is to eat smaller and more frequent meals throughout the day.
Keeping the stomach from getting empty helps food digestion. Everyone’s grandmother recommends saltine crackers. This old-fashioned tip helps coat the stomach and avoids the sensation of hunger.
Finding foods that are appealing and easy to digest are essential. Nuts and fiber-filled foods may be a challenge in early pregnancy. Spicy, greasy foods and strong-smelling foods may worsen the first trimester symptoms.
The good news is nausea and vomiting will resolve
For many excited pregnant moms, nausea and vomiting prevent them from enjoying early pregnancy. Rest assured, these symptoms resolve, and almost all women will be able to eat normally throughout the majority of their pregnancy.
These tips can help buy time until morning sickness passes.
This article was contributed by MacArthur Medical Center’s Mary Lela Vonder Haar, PA.