Why do they call it Morning Sickness if it rarely occurs only in the morning? For many pregnant moms-to-be, morning sickness can be one of the toughest parts of coping with pregnancies. For you mommies out there who never felt sick a single day, I hate you. I envy you. I long to be you. But for the rest of you ladies who might be suffering with queasiness, nausea, and vomiting, this guide is for you! With my daughter, I got sick before I even missed my period, literally I thought I had the flu. (Boy was I wrong) By 6 weeks along, I was throwing up anywhere between 12 and 15 times EVERY DAY! It would literally NEVER GO AWAY. Morning sickness? More like All Day sickness. I would wake up in the middle of the night and need to throw up even. I lost 22 pounds in my first 20 weeks of pregnancy. And lucky me, I got to suffer my whole pregnancy long, it didn’t just vanish after the first trimester! I was in labor throwing up. I do feel fortunate that somewhere around 20 weeks it tapered a bit and slowed to only once or twice a day that I would actually vomit. Honestly throwing up provided relief sometimes (for a very short, sacred 25 seconds), the worst of it all was the nausea that became my constant companion. Through all of that mess though, learned a few (unconventional) tricks to survive and thought I would share them in hopes that they might help someone!
Note** unfortunately there is just no cure for morning sickness that works 100%, but these tips are awesome for helping you manage it and get through it while maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
Mints and Gum Are Your New BFFs
Seriously, stock up on your favorite minty flavors. Not only do they help hide the throw up smell that is sure to surround you by now, but they really help to take the edge off. I had a long commute from work to home and it would throw me over the edge sometimes, let me tell you it was REALLY nice having some mints I could pop into my mouth to concentrate on while the back of my throat was watering. Plus the coolness of the mint helps to fight that edge, too!
Crackers, Crackers, Crackers…and Maybe a Few Nuts
With morning sickness you most likely won’t feel like eating, but NOT eating can make you feel even more sick. The solution I came up with? Having a few tolerable snacks to munch on, slowly, when I felt like I could handle it. I discovered if I left some on my nightstand and ate one or two crackers when I first woke up before moving, sometimes it would be a little more tolerable. My favorites? Wheat thins (plain. very plain.) plain almonds, and occasionally I could handle a Triscuit or two. I’m also a big fan of rice cakes.
This sounds a little crazy, but when it came down to controlling my morning sickness, it wasn’t about, “what can I keep down?” it was more like, “what will be easier to throw up?” The answer? Smooth textures. I also found that smooth textures tended to sit better on my stomach anyway, which reduced how often I would throw up. Refried beans were pretty much a staple. Mashed potatoes is another great option (although not the box kind, the grainy texture still makes me gag!) Normally I am a vegetable lover, but I couldn’t stand them while pregnant, so I had to find easy to throw up ones- like squash because the texture is smoother. Some other suggestions are yogurt, ice cream, and soups.
Find What Foods You CAN Eat, WHEN You Can
Maybe you can’t choke down salad anymore, but if you are still ok with asparagus then load up on it. Find the things that make you the least sick (or that don’t sound totally wretched) and try to stick with those. As long as you are taking your vitamin and trying your best, your baby is going to get everything that it needs. Eat whatever you feel like you can eat (even if it is just ice cream, although try to limit sugars to small amounts!) because you need the strength to make that little body. In addition, if you are sick most of the time and then randomly wake up at 3 in the morning with a wild craving for cereal, GO AND GET YOUR BOWL AND SPOON. That is a luxury of being pregnant, eating whenever you want because it is better for the baby than nothing at all!
The Little Lemon Trick
Do you find yourself in weird places where you suddenly get a whiff of something that threatens to send you hurling for the bathroom? My aunt gave me the greatest suggestion for dealing with this! Take a slice of a lemon (I would use a decent sized wedge so that the scent was strong) and throw it into a plastic baggy into your purse and pull it out when you need it. I literally did all of my grocery shopping holding my baggy with lemon slices in it to my nose because of the smells in the grocery store. Tony stayed a good two feet behind me because he was so embarrassed….but hey, his kid, his fault, he can deal with my lemon right? ha.
Take Your Vitamin When You Can Lay Down
Vitamins can be really harsh on your stomach, especially pre-natals because they are so packed with raw nutrients and trust me, nothing is worse than upchucking vitamins. Bleck. I found the best solution was to take them at a time when I could relax and not have to move or drive or anything else that would induce throwing up. Maybe after dinner when you relax before bed, or maybe when you are eating your crackers first thing in the morning and can lay on the sofa.
Keep a Cup in the Car
Accidents happen and you can’t always get to the side of the road. If the mints fail and there is just no stopping the hurling storm in your belly, make sure you have a back up plan ready! A plastic bag, a cup, whatever. You can’t survive morning sickness unless you are prepared.
Sour flavors for some reason have magical powers. They can take the edge off of the nausea, distract your mouth from the pre-vomiting watering process, and actually taste good (miracle!) I liked to eat sour fruit like pomegranates, raw limes and lemons, and oranges, but I found that little candy sours were perfect for popping in my mouth at work or while driving to help me manage my sickness. I seriously think I went through a jar of Preggie Pops like every 2 days- although you could really use any kind of candy that is sour. I recommend Trader Joe’s Organic Lollipops.
Ditch the scented stuff
Any scents you can’t stand? Ditch them. The more neutral scents you can surround yourself with, the less likely you are to have random triggers of nausea through scent. For some reason, I couldn’t stand our bathroom soap, Tony’s cologne, my deodorant, or the smell of my purse (I was like….purses have smells? Obviously this one did because it was the top of my Smells I Can’t Stand list.) Just make it easy. Get rid of it and replace it with plain, unscented stuff.
This one is huge. Many women suffering from morning sickness found their sickness was controlled by heartburn (especially in the later trimesters). While I am against taking any medicines that are not completely necessary while pregnant, there are a few things you can do. Avoid heartburn causing foods, including fried, greasy, salty, or sugary things. Learn to love milk. The calcium actually breaks down the acid on contact and can relieve heartburn fast. Occasionally Tums or another antacid will be a stronger, more effective way of killing heartburn on spot. Finally, speak with your doctor about non harmful remedies you can take to help heartburn.
Drinking fluids as cold as you can possibly stand often help your stomach ease up when it is feeling queasy. While many women find success with drinking warm water and find it comforting (you can always give that a try) my personal experience found drinking liquids really cold in small sips was the easiest way to keep liquids down– and staying hydrated is extremely important!! Really if all else fails with keeping food in, at LEAST try to stay hydrated to avoid trips to the hospital and risks to your baby’s health.
Essential oils have been a main source of remedies for hundreds of years. There are some that are dangerous to use while pregnant, but there are many that can actually make pregnancy easier on you. For morning sickness, I recommend something with orange or orange blossom, peppermint, or eucalyptus. Rubbing just a tiny bit behind your ears (where it can absorb easily) or on your wrists (so you have easy access to sniff liberally when needed) might help to keep sickness at bay. I always found that even though I was nauseated, I was less likely to throw up if I had some essential oils around me.
I was never able to just chew on and eat the actual ginger, so I found some capsules with ginger root in them and would take them before a flight or long drive. The problem with ginger is that it tended to give me heartburn, which was uncomfortable, but they also helped provide relief caused by motion sickness, which in turn helped prevent morning sickness. You might also consider using it in an oil, although I have never tried that and so I am not really sure as to how effective it would be.
Get Plenty of Rest
I found the thing that helped my morning sickness the most was getting large quantities of sleep. The more tired I felt, the worse the sickness was. The nights where I was able to get 10-12 hours of sleep in or days I took a nap I found my vomiting would reduce to 7 or 8 times a day (still a lot but hey, when you are sick you will take ANY improvement.) There are times when feeling sick might prevent you from getting good sleep, but if you can relax with a mint in your mouth and an ice pack on your head (random combination I found that I was convinced helped) at least your body will get some rest.
Morning sickness is hard to deal with, but think of what your body is doing? Especially during that first trimester (when women tend to feel the most sick) you are building all of the main organs and parts of a little human. A beating heart, an active brain, a spine, face, fingers, stomach… All of that happens in those first few months. With all of that work your body is doing, no wonder you feel extra tired and feel sick. Not to mention all of the extra hormones you are now dealing with. Even though it is hard to think positive when all you can think of is your next date with the porcelain throne, keep in mind that it is something you are temporarily feeling while your body is doing extraordinary work!! It is worth it in the end when you get to squeeze those little cheeks and tickle sweet little toes!
** update: I’ve also made a post about hyperemesis gravidarum super severe morning sickness with some more tips that you can find HERE