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Morning sickness is a real piece of work. The joy of discovering you’re pregnant may be quickly washed away with the sea nausea that typically rules the first trimester. If this sounds familiar, know you’re not alone! In fact, 70-80% of women will experience some degree of nausea and vomiting through pregnancy (1). While there’s no cure for nausea through pregnancy, there are some effective, easy, and all natural ways to reduce morning sickness
Nausea in pregnancy is commonly referred to as morning sickness because it most frequently occurs in the morning. However, pregnancy nausea can occur at any point during the day (2). During my first pregnancy, I was fine first thing in the morning. But 10am rolled around, nausea set in and I was green as grass, sipping on green juice spiked with ginger.
If you’re experiencing extreme prolonged nausea, please connect with your care provider! In a small percentage of pregnancies (0.2%–5%), persistent and excessive nausea and vomiting resulting in dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and weight loss, known as Hyperemesis gravidarum, can occur (2). This requires medical attention.
It is theorized that morning sickness is an evolutionary protective mechanism, helping mothers avoid or expel certain foods that may be contaminated (4). This could be why protein and leafy greens aversions seem to be so common during the first trimester, when the fetus is the most vulnerable.
If you’re part of the lucky 20% or so that don’t experience nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, you may still notice that you actively avoid or are even repulsed by foods you enjoyed pre-pregnancy! Coffee, spoiled foods, cigarette smoke, gasoline and perfumes are some of the most common nose offenders in pregnancy (5). When I was pregnant with my first kiddo, I couldn’t stand the smell of turkey or poultry seasonings. (And yes, I was pregnant through thanksgiving, so that was fun). Again this could be part of the protective mechanism similar to nausea and vomiting.
So we know morning sickness is really common, it can occur at any point during this day, and that it is most likely an evolutionary protection both for mom and baby. But how can we rock through that first trimester nausea and keep our quality of life enjoyable?
Ginger is one of the most effective and safe herbal remedies to aid in pregnancy nausea and vomiting. This spicy root contains gingerols and shogaols which help with motility and gastric emptying (6). The stomach provides the chemical (gastric juices, yum) and mechanical breakdown of food (motility), but during pregnancy this process is slowed down, leading to nausea, gas, constipation or other digestive distress. Incorporating ginger root can give your digestion a boost and reduce morning sickness.
Favorite ways to incorporate ginger:
Ginger Root Tea
Gingersnap Cookie Bars
Keeping a whole food snack on your nightstand you can eat before you even get out of bed may help reduce morning sickness. Things like larabars, a small handful of nuts and seeds, or our banana walnut granola are all great things to keep bedside. But then breakfast with… protein! Eating a protein rich breakfast can reduce cravings through the rest of the day and help you maintain good energy and balanced blood sugar through the day. For more on this, be sure to listen to our interview with Lily Nichols, RD on episode 20 of the Beyond Birth Podcast. Eggs and bacon may not sound great to you right now, so try one of these protein rich breakfasts!
Chocolate Raspberry Smoothie
Pumpkin Green Smoothie
Cinnamon Vanilla Chia Pudding
Overstimulation from flickering fluorescent lights and blaring music can actually make nausea worse. (Is it the workout that’s making you nauseous or the just the environment?) Flicker vertigo, from strobing lights or flickering screens, can cause nausea for those who are particularly sensitive. Take frequent breaks outside if possible and seek calm environments with natural light to move in. Fresh air can improve mental clarity, reduce grogginess, and reduce pregnancy induced nausea and vomiting(7).
Some women experience increased nausea from prenatal vitamins, especially if they contain iron. While it’s important to take them, it doesn’t help if they come right back up or make you feel like garbage all day. Here are a few tips to lessen their nausea inducing effects:
Break up the dose throughout the day
Don’t take on an empty stomach.
Take at night just before bed
Make sure your prenatal has vitamin B6, which has been shown to reduce nausea.
Burpees, jumping jacks, and big movements may not be your friend right now. Exercise and endorphins can improve your overall sense of well-being and may reduce your nausea, but stick to a gentle movement flow.
Move through this hip-opening gentle flow workout 3-5 times, spending 1 minute in each position.
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