Whoever coined the term "morning sickness" was a liar of epic proportions! For many, and I would go so far as to say most women, the dreaded nausea is not specific to any particular time of day but can rear its ugly head at the most inopportune times. Regardless whether you have morning, afternoon or a general all day sickness, nausea is among one of the number one complaints of most pregnant individuals and has us seeking out any and all forms of relief. Rapidly rising hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and human chorionic gonadotrophin are thought to be the culprits. If you are carrying multiples, you are at a higher risk of suffering from morning sickness as you will have higher levels of these hormones coursing through your veins. Let's all thank mother nature for her twisted sense of humour.
I have listed below a number of tried and true methods to help alleviate the dreaded pregnancy nausea. Every individual and every pregnancy is different. What works for one may not work for another, but knowing all of your options can certainly help!
1) Take note of when the nausea is striking.
Do you have a full or empty stomach when it strikes? Does it occur first thing in the morning or during that 3 p.m. lull in the day? If you find you experience nausea on an empty stomach, a good idea is to keep light snacks with you and graze throughout the day so that you never get that “empty stomach” feeling. Some women swear by the "crackers beside the bed" trick. When you first wake and before getting out of bed, nibble on a plain cracker (such as a saltine or Ritz) or have a baggy of dry cereal readily available to help neutralize stomach acid and put a little something in your belly before starting your day.
2) Rethink the timing of your prenatal vitamins
Prenatal vitamins contain an important mix of minerals and vitamins that are in high demand during pregnancy but here's the bad news.......they can sometimes aggravate an already upset stomach. The culprit? Most often times it's the iron. Taking your vitamin with a meal or light snack can help to alleviate symptoms as can changing the time of day you take them. Try taking them at night before bed. Hopefully you will sleep through any nausea it may cause. If these tricks don't help, ask your care provider to prescribe you a prescription form that you are able to take in smaller doses (example: twice daily). If you absolutely can't stomach your prenatal vitamins, at the very least make sure you are getting enough folic acid. Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate and is responsible for reducing the risk of neural tube defects.
3) Try some Ginger!
Ginger has long been touted as an aid to digestion. When the nausea strikes, try drinking some ginger tea. To make your own very healthy version, slice up some organic ginger and place into a pot of water and boil for approximately 10 mins (you can also use the kettle). Strain the ginger and add some honey to taste. You can also suck on a ginger lozenge or if your feeling really nostalgic, try some gingerale! But don't forget to stir out some of that carbonation, as excess gas in the belly does not help the feelings of nausea!
4) Try eating bland foods
Our taste buds can become super sensitive during pregnancy and even the slightest smells can throw our stomachs into a tailspin. Try eating bland foods such as whole grain toast, bananas, apple sauce, crackers, mashed potatoes, watermelon and coconut water (both are great for hydration!). Stay away from spicy & fried foods as well as foods with very strong smells.
5) Accupressure bands
Sea bands or other types of accupressure bands are available at most local drug stores and work by by applying pressure on the "Nei Kuan" acupressure point on each wrist by means of a plastic stud. Because the bands do not use drugs, they do not cause any side effects. While these don't work for everyone they are certainly worth a try and can also be used for car/motion sickness for adults and children alike. As an alternative, there is another accupressure point in the hand (found in the webbing between the thumb and index fingers) that when pressure is applied, can also help to alleviate nausea. You can seek out the advice of an accupressurist or accupuncturist to get more details on possible treatment.
Whether it comes in the form of gum, candy or essential oil, peppermint can be a great warrior against nausea. Chew your way to relief by finding a nice, strong peppermint gum or candy. My personal fav are Altoid mints. Man those things are strong but I love them! I also love having a roller ball of peppermint oil handy in my purse. Not only is it great for headache relief but it's incredibly helpful to take a good ol' sniff of when nausea strikes. You can buy a glass roller ball from your local health food store and fill it with your favourite brand of peppermint essential oil.
7) Sour or Tart Candies
Sour keys, Sour Patch Kids, Sweet Tarts, War Heads. I really don't know the science that is behind this (or if there even is any! LOL) but I cannot begin to tell you how many women swear by the relief that these small wondrous candies carry. Having some handy just may save you a trip to the bathroom and at the very least, they're super delicious so enjoy all that they have to offer!
8) Ask your Doctor about Diclectin
So here's the thing about Diclectin......it's not a miracle drug and it doesn't work for everyone. Diclectin is a prescription drug that comes in a time-released pill that contains two ingredients: Pyridoxine (aka vitamin B6) and Doxylamine, an antihistamine. While the SOGC (Society of Obstetricians and Gynecology of Canada) continues to recommend Diclectin as treatment for nausea and vomiting "when conservative measures have not been effective", there are some doctors questioning its efficacy and many are changing how and when they prescribe it. But many woman still swear that it works for them with some saying that it was the only thing getting them through the day. Talk to your doctor about whether Diclectin may be right for you.
**It's important to note that there is a difference between morning sickness and something more serious called Hypermesis Gravidarum. The latter is a debilitating sickness marked by rapid weight loss, malnutrition and dehydration due to unrelenting nausea and severe vomiting. Severe cases can lead to hospitalization. Please see your care provider if you have concerns about lack of weight gain or general weight loss coupled with severe nausea and vomiting.