Managing morning sickness

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Many women feel sick to their stomachs, or even throw up, during the first few months of pregnancy. This uncomfortable feeling is commonly referred to as "morning sickness" (even though you may feel sick all day).

If you don't feel like eating

Woman using a blenderMorning sickness can range from mild, occasional nausea to continuous vomiting. It can make it difficult to eat and keep down food. For some, just the smell of food can trigger symptoms.

An empty stomach can make morning sickness symptoms worse. If you're feeling sick, try your best to continue eating even if you don't feel hungry.

Try the following eating tips:

  • Sip small amounts of water, apple juice, grape juice, mineral water, ginger tea, lemonade, or caffeine-free sodas (such as ginger ale).
  • If drinking with meals gives you a stomachache, drink between meals instead.
  • Eat fruits with high water content, such as melons, oranges, or grapefruits.
  • Eat small meals and healthy snacks — such as string cheese, yogurt, fruit or vegetable juices, and soups — throughout the day, every 2 to 3 hours.
  • Nibble on saltine crackers or dry toast in bed in the morning before getting up, and before you go to sleep at night.
  • Avoid foods that are greasy or fried.
  • Avoid spicy foods.

Helpful home remedies

Morning sickness begins during the first trimester, when your baby is most likely to develop birth defects. That's why during this time you should try dealing with morning sickness without using medications or herbal remedies, unless your doctor says otherwise.

Try the following strategies:

  • Stay away from coffee, cigarettes, and alcohol.
  • Snack on items that contain ginger — ginger tea, candied ginger, or gingersnap cookies — because they can help reduce nausea.
  • Get lots of fresh air by opening windows.
  • Use an exhaust fan when cooking to get rid of odors that can trigger nausea.
  • If your prenatal vitamin gives you a stomachache, try taking it before going to bed.
  • Take vitamin B6 (25 mg every 8 hours or as needed, up to 75 mg a day).
  • Get lots of rest, reduce your stress, and do not to worry if you can't keep much food down during the first trimester.

When will it end?

Hang in there. Morning sickness usually gets better after the first 3 to 4 months of pregnancy. But if you find you are unable to do common daily functions because you are so sick, or you just can't keep down any food, call your practitioner. He or she may be able to help you control your symptoms.

When to call your doctor

  • your vomiting is severe (with pain or fever)
  • your vomiting is frequent (more than 2 to 3 times a day)
  • your vomiting lasts more than an hour
  • your morning sickness lasts into your second or third trimester

Source: Adapted from copyrighted material of The Permanente Medical Group, Inc.

Reviewed by: Jeff Convissar, MD, November 2015
Additional Kaiser Permanente reviewers

© 2015 Kaiser Permanente

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