I have four kids, and I love them all. But I did not love the first 3-4 months of any of my pregnancies. I had nonstop nausea. Every now and then I would throw up, but most of the time, I just felt awful.
About nausea and vomiting during pregnancy
About 90% of pregnant women have some nausea, with or without vomiting, starting around 6 weeks along. This usually resolves by the time you are at 16-20 weeks. There are some studies that report that women who experience nausea in the first trimester may have a lower risk of miscarriage – nausea can be a sign of a healthy pregnancy. But you shouldn’t worry if you don’t experience nausea. Your risk for miscarriage is not any higher; you are just one of the lucky few!
Excessive nausea and vomiting during pregnancy can cause dehydration, which makes you more nauseated, perpetuating the misery. So if you are pregnant and nauseated, here are some tips to help you get through this difficult passage.
1. Eat early and often
Avoid having an empty stomach for too long. A series of small meals usually works better than just a few larger meals. If your stomach is too full, you may be more nauseated.
2. Bland Foods
Experts usually recommend bland starchy foods like crackers and toast. If this works for you, great! But my best advice is to eat whatever you feel like you can keep down at the time, even if it seems crazy. In general, you probably want to avoid greasy or spicy foods during this time, but if pizza is what you want, try a few bites.
3. Stay hydrated
I know, sometimes drinking water can make you feel even sicker. So you have to sneak it in. Popsicles, Jello, soups, carbonated drinks, teas…all these are ways to get the water you need. You may do better with cold drinks rather than hot, as cold foods don’t taste or smell as strong.
4. Try ginger
Ginger in the form of tea, candy, or ginger root, has been shown to help nausea in pregnancy.
This is simply Vitamin B6 and may help reduce nausea. The usual dose is 25 mg 3-4 times a day. You can buy this without a prescription. When used in combination with dietary management, you may feel enough better that you can get through the day pretty normally.
This prescription medication is vitamin B6 plus an antihistamine and is safe and helpful during pregnancy. Usually, it is taken at night, since the antihistamine can make you a little sleepy. Additional doses can be added during the day.
This medication has been around for many years and can be helpful in treating nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. It may cause drowsiness, so if you are prescribed this medicine, take it at home for the first few doses and see how it affects you.
This medication was first developed to treat nausea in patients receiving chemotherapy. We prescribed it pretty liberally in pregnancy until there began to be some concern about a slightly increased risk of fetal birth defects. For this reason, we don’t use this medication as much in the first trimester anymore. If your symptoms don’t respond to dietary management or other medications, ondansetron may be worth talking to your provider about.
9. Reducing stomach acid
Reducing stomach acid can be helpful, and there are many safe over-the-counter options. Antacids with calcium or aluminum, cimetidine, ranitidine, and proton pump inhibitors (omeprazole, lansoprazole) are considered safe in pregnancy.
This medication helps your stomach to empty a little faster, which can help reduce nausea. Pills can be given before meals and at bedtime.
Acupressure wristbands and hypnosis have all been studied in pregnancy, with varying results. If dietary changes or medications aren’t relieving your symptoms, you may want to explore these options.
If your symptoms worsen despite these tactics, you may need more aggressive management.
IV fluids or medications may be indicated. Some women require tube feedings or IV nutrition if they are unable to keep down solids or liquids for more than a few days. Just remember that most of the time, nausea and vomiting in pregnancy resolves over a few weeks. Hang in there!
Manage your eating, do your best to stay hydrated, and ask your provider for help and advice if you don’t feel better.