If you are pregnant or have been pregnant, chances are you are far too familiar with morning sickness.
Isn’t it just wonderful that finding out you’re expecting, which should be such a joyous occasion, can make you sick, literally?
I have been pregnant twice. Both times, with a girl. Both times, I had morning sickness, which most definitely doesn’t just happen in the morning.
Here’s the thing though. It doesn’t have to be horrible! I learned a lot of tips and tricks that really helped and would have loved it if someone would have told me all of this the first time around.
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What exactly is morning sickness?
Morning sickness is essentially nausea. It feels like sea or car sickness or how you feel after going too many times on a roller coaster or a merry-go-round or even like you are hungover all day.
Termed so inappropriately, this awesome side effect of pregnancy can leave you feeling completely awful all day and all night for usually the full duration of the first trimester but can last even longer for some.
Morning sickness can begin even before you know you are pregnant. When pregnant with L, I was sick the day after I found out I was pregnant, which was 3 days before my missed period. If I hadn’t been testing early, my morning sickness would have started before I even knew I was pregnant. I was then sick 24/7 until week 13 when it disappeared completely.
However, it is actually fantastic news to have morning sickness because it is a good sign that your pregnancy is going well. Here is a study that shows morning sickness lowers the risk of pregnancy loss.
Another interesting tidbit about morning sickness is that breastfeeding can prevent it. So, if this isn’t your first child and you are currently breastfeeding, don’t stop. Quitting during that first trimester will most likely kick that morning sickness into high gear.
How do I know if I have extreme morning sickness?
While you are probably feeling like crap, most of the time that doesn’t qualify for anything but normal morning sickness. The symptoms can be anything from just nausea to nausea and vomiting. In a small percentage of pregnancies, you can have a form of extreme morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). If you think you have extreme morning sickness (extreme vomiting, dizzy, and/or dehydrated), call your provider now.
Interesting fact is that those who have extreme morning sickness, were 80% more likely to be carrying a girl. So maybe that old wives tale isn’t completely crazy after all.
What helps morning sickness?
There is actually a wealth of knowledge that can help stop or at least help you deal with morning sickness. The following list of ways to help nausea go away made a big difference for me.
Remember that extreme form of morning sickness? Classified as Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), it usually requires medical professional or hospitalization. The incorporation of hospitals in treating HG results in it being well studied in comparison to just typical morning sickness. Specifically, it has been shown that infection with a specific bad gut bacteria, Helicobacter pylori (H, pylori), was found in most HG cases (about 90%) and rarely in pregnant women without HG (30%).
The takeaway is that probiotics can go a long way in changing the bacteria in your gut. By continually replenishing your gut with good bacteria, you make it much harder for bad bacteria to grow there. Thus, my first tip would be to start taking a probiotic daily. You can also start to incorporate yogurt into your diet if the idea of eating yogurt doesn’t increase your nausea. Try a yogurt-based smoothie every morning that also has some ginger in it.
2. Sea sick bands
Pregnant women aren’t alone in suffering from nausea. Those who decide to venture out to sea also might find themselves feeling very similar. Lucky for us pregnant women, someone invented a product to cope with sea sickness and it also works quite well for pregnancy. You can pick up sea sick bands from your local CVS or grab a pair off Amazon. These literally became my staple fashion accessory during the first trimester because they made such a big difference.
3. Time your prenatal vitamins
If you aren’t already, start a prenatal vitamin today, specifically one that has folic acid. Folic acid and other vitamins and minerals found in the prenatal pill will help prevent birth defects. However, these pills can actually make nausea worse. The best way to prevent this is to take one right before bed.
If this does not help, ask your provider for a prescription for folic acid, which is the most important component of prenatal pills during the first trimester. Not having enough folic acid during those first few months can result in spinal deformations so take this seriously! Check out I’m pregnant, now what? to ensure you have covered all of those important steps.
Once morning sickness subsides in the second trimester, switch back to a prenatal vitamin.
4. Chew gum
Consider always having a pack of gum handy. Keep one in your car and purse. When you start to feel sick, pop a piece. The peppermint smell can really help take the edge off. This is especially important if you need a lot of options while you are at work all day and maybe haven’t yet shared the news.
5. Snacks not meals
Eating a lot can make you feel super sick. You might still be trying to follow your normal diet that probably consisted of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Time to reconsider! Instead of having your breakfast all at once, try to break it up. This will all result in fewer smells and fewer complex foods, both of which can trigger morning sickness.
For example, start with crackers by your bedside to have before you even get out of bed. Then try a smoothie with yogurt and ginger about 30 minutes later. An hour after that try to have some plain toast, cereal or oatmeal.
When deciding what type of snacks to have, think like a toddler. The blander, the better. Some ideas include granola bars, crackers, saltines, rice crackers and bread. You might even find you can eat plain noodles or rice without feeling sick. Another awesome option is oatmeal.
6. Always keep a snack handy
Similar to the tip above, not only do you want to eat snacks and not meals but also eat them frequently. An empty stomach is the best way to feeling nauseous. Once you feel nauseous, then you don’t want to eat, and it is hard to get out of that cycle. Prevent it completely by keeping snacks handy at all times and having one every two hours or if you start to feel the slightest bit nauseous.
7. Try not to do the cooking if possible
Smells are a sure way to trigger morning sickness. You might be able to actually eat a lot more variety if you don’t have to smell it for a considerable amount of time. I always found that cooking food was actually worse than eating it. Maybe your other half could take over the actual cooking for a while and if they aren’t savvy in the kitchen, consider freezer prep meals.
I never knew about freezer prep meals until I was pregnant. And you willneed this skill when you are in those final weeks preparing for baby. The idea behind freezer prep meals is you pre-chop and mix all of the ingredients into a freezer safe bag.
When you want to have the meal, simply thaw and dump into a crockpot. Using a crockpot means you don’t need to stand over the stovetop smelling the food. You will want to do this again to stock up on meals before baby arrives, so you don’t need to worry about cooking and minimize grocery shopping in those first few weeks.
If you still have to prep meals for your family while you are sick, this is a great solution. Your family can eat this and you can have your crackers. Remove most of the work and make cooking in this style economical (~$1/serving) and time saving (~2 hr a week instead of an hour every night), by using a freezer meal cookbook. I absolutely love how this one organizes the grocery lists of 7, or even 30, meals into one so you can bulk prep a bunch of meals all at once.
8. Ginger ale
I feel that if there is one tip you have found, it would be ginger. The carbonation of ginger all, specifically, really helped me. I would have this between snacks if I wasn’t feeling to great.
In fact, it seemed like I couldn’t drink water at all during the first trimester. I instead drank a lot of ginger ale and red Gatorade.
You can also eat ginger, add it to meals or put it into smoothies, which is my favorite.
Not getting enough sleep can really crank up morning sickness. When I wasn’t getting enough sleep, it resulted in a lot more puking. Try to take a nap here and there, go to bed early and also sleep in as much as possible.
Remember, soon you will have a newborn who will be up every two hours all night so relish sleep as much as you can.
10. If you tried it all
The combination of Vitamin B6 and Unisom seems to really help. It is safe to take but of course reach out to your provider on exactly when and how much to take. The best part besides reducing morning sickness was that taking Unisom allowed me to actually sleep.
As being sleep deprived can cause morning sickness. It was essential that I found a way to get more sleep. I was able to finally start sleeping through the night again instead of waking up with an empty stomach at 3 am and puking.
Another thing that helped was when I did wake, I would always grab a cracker or two off my nightstand before going back to bed.
Do NOT take any nausea medications! They are not all safe.
Always keep a morning sickness kit with you
Using these tips to prevent morning sickness is the best way to reduce its effect. The second is to try to curb it right when it starts so it doesn’t get worse. Therefore, you need an arsenal of solutions ready at any second. Hence, your morning sickness survival kit that you should keep in your purse and have an extra in your car. What to put in your bag?
- 3-4 snack options (saltines, crackers, rice crackers, instant oatmeal)
- Ginger ale
- Gatorade or lemonade
- Toothbrush and toothpaste in case you puke
- Sea sick bands
Prepare for Baby Instead
Yes, this won’t help with morning sickness, but it will provide motivation to help you get through those first few months. Especially since morning sickness usually is the worst around 10-12 weeks before it starts to clear completely.
Start with a countdown to help you get through each day and during the day focus on preparing for that bundle of joy. Preparing can be one of the most exciting and fun parts of pregnancy. To have something to focus on each week besides morning sickness, signup for our free Bump Smart course. You will receive an email each week on how to prepare tailored to your due date.
CONGRATS MAMA! You got this!
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Dr. Trina Fitzpatrick is a wife, mom, blogger, and a breastfeeding advocate. She is the co-author of the Week-by-Week Bump Smart Course, the Nesting Planner and the Breastfeeding Handbook. She attributes her success at breastfeeding her own children into toddlerhood with working with lactation consultants in the hospital in the early stages and on a weekly basis afterwards. By writing at MomSmartNotHard, she educates mamas-to-be on all things pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. Read more about Trina.