Nausea during pregnancy will resolve on its own by the third or fourth month for most people. In the meantime, there are several methods for dealing with it naturally.
Nausea is one of the most common complaints of pregnancy. It seems to be related to the massive increase in hormones to support the pregnancy, and an individual’s unique sensitivity to the physical and emotional changes that result.
Consider keeping a diary of what makes your symptoms worse and better, to increase your awareness of what to avoid and how you can help yourself. Nausea is often made worse by fatigue, stress, unresolved emotional issues, sedentary indoor living, nutritional deficiencies, inadequate diet, an empty stomach, and offensive odors. Plan accordingly!
Dietary Recommendations for Reducing Nausea During Pregnancy
A drop in blood sugar from the added work of making a baby can make nausea worse, so it is important to eat small amounts of whole food with complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fat, at least every 2-3 hours, and eat real, local, organic food products as much as possible. Include in your daily diet small frequent servings of:
Protein and fat like nuts, nut butters, seeds, tofu/tempeh, whole eggs, turkey or chicken, beef, lamb, wild Alaskan/Norwegian salmon, and fresh raw whole dairy (ideally sheep or goat).
Unrefined complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, barley, oats, kasha, beans, sweet potatoes, squash, and whole multi-grain sprouted bread like Ezekiel. Combine with protein and fat like toast with avocado or sliced turkey, oatmeal in milk, or granola with yogurt.
Fresh fruits with protein and fat like pure peanut butter or a handful of almonds.
Plenty of fresh vegetables with protein and fat like hummus or cheese.
Healthy fat for cooking. Good options are cold expeller-pressed extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil or butter.
Stay away from refined white flour foods and sweets, as they lead to a rapid rise then fall in blood sugar - this actually worsens nausea and causes other symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, headaches, brain fog, anxiety and depression. Avoid letting your stomach become empty or stuffed, and try to separate eating solids and drinking liquids by about 15-20 minutes. Try to eat a small portion of food that you tolerate after vomiting. Eat what agrees with you for now from the above foods, as baby will take nutrients from you. You can replenish when the nausea resolves.
Keep some healthy snacks by your bedside to eat before rising in the morning and going to bed at night. Always carry an assortment of your favorite foods when out.
In general, plain foods are usually better tolerated than hot, spicy, rich, greasy, overly sweetened or processed junk foods. Avoid coffee, alcohol and cigarettes, as they irritate the stomach, in addition to causing health problems for you and your baby.
Hydration is Key
Keep well hydrated by drinking at least 64 ounces of liquids away from food. Good options are:
Pure spring or well water with a splash of lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit juice.
Seltzer or sparkling water (plain or naturally flavored).
Herbal teas of ginger, peppermint, spearmint, chamomile, raspberry leaf, cinnamon, peach, catnip, lemon balm, anise or fennel seeds with honey, agave or fresh mint leaves to taste.
Warm milk with lemon juice or honey as soon as you get up in the morning.
A small glass of grapefruit juice before meals.
Sipping natural ginger ale throughout the day.
Soup broth (vegetable, bone or miso are excellent choices).
If you are vomiting, try to drink a small amount of liquid each time you throw up. One quarter cup of fluids every 15-30 minutes is crucial to keep hydrated.
Try to drink the health food alternative to Gatorade or Pedialyte (which is full of chemicals), called Third Wind or Recharge to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes. Another option is electrolyte infused water like Smart Water. Fresh or all natural coconut water is nature’s rehydration drink. Eating watermelon is also great for hydrating yourself and is well tolerated. You can also make your own concoction by combining:
1/8-1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp calcium/magnesium powder
1-2 Tbsp honey
Juice of 1 fresh lemon or lime to taste
1 qt spring or coconut water.
Drink a cup slowly every 1 - 2 hours. Even if you vomit it up, you will still get some and it often reduces the number of vomiting episodes.
Take Time for Self-Care
This is a very sensitive period. You need to find extra time for your own much needed pampering, and remind close friends and family that you need lots of additional love and understanding.
Soak in a warm bath with a few drops of essential oils of lavender, sandalwood, peppermint, citrus or rose. You can also bathe in a few tablespoons of fresh ginger juice - made by juicing a few inch piece of ginger - or 1/2 cup of grated ginger to the bath.
Get more sleep by going to bed earlier or sleeping later, and taking a nap or frequent rest periods during the day. Allow more time to get out of bed in the morning.
Get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. Open windows when inside, weather permitting. Every day, try to spend at least 20 minutes outside with nature in the early morning or late afternoon sun. This does wonders!
Engage in regular moderate exercise such as brisk walking, cycling, dancing or swimming for ½ -1 hour 5 days per week. Even though you may not feel like doing this, it helps immensely and you will feel better afterwards.
Practice the following breathing exercises twice per day (like before rising in the morning and going to sleep at night) and whenever you feel very nauseous or stressed.
Exercise 1. Simply focus your attention on your breathing for a few minutes. Then, after a normal breath, try slowly squeezing out as much air as possible using the muscles in your chest. Next, allow air to come in naturally and deeply, but automatically. Repeat the cycle for at least eight breaths.
Exercise 2. Take a slow deep inhale, drawing your breath deep into your belly and expanding the inhalation to your fullest capacity. The exhale happens naturally. But let it be through your mouth with an audible sigh of relief, releasing and relaxing all tension. Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7, and exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. Repeat this cycle for at least eight breaths.
Exercise 3. Play with the counts of inhaling, pausing, exhaling and another pause before the next inhale to see what feels best for you. Try triangle breathing: inhale to a count of 4, exhale to a count of 4, then pause for a count of 4, continuing for 5-10 minutes. Alsp try box breathing: inhale to a count of 4, pause for a count of 4 while focusing on relaxing, exhale to a count of 4, pausing again for a count of 4 and repeating that cycle for 5-10 minutes.
Breathwork with extended slow exhales, such as inhale for a count of 3-4 and exhale for a count of 6-8, tend to be extremely calming as well. Rapid forced exhaling through the nose as in the yoga breath of fire, as well as conscious connected circular breathing through the mouth with full capacity enthusiastic inhale and relaxed quick exhale, is more activating and energizing. I love to guide people in mastering transformative life-changing Breathwork practices not only for healing, but also for optimal health and well-being.
Try to relax with yoga, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation techniques (yoga nidra), visualizations and imagery work. There are many phone apps like Calm and Breathe to help you establish a regular practice.
Enjoy a light distraction like watching an engrossing drama, comedy or musical, reading a good book, or listening to music that you love.
Get a change of scenery by unplugging from your smartphone or computer and spending a day in the park or at the beach, hiking in a beautiful place, getting a spa treatment, exploring a museum or a local town, going to the theater, taking an art or music class, volunteering for those in need, getting together and connecting with those who support and encourage you, going on a mini vacation with a family member or friend to a place you love.
Natural Remedies for Nausea During Pregnancy
If you are interested in herbs, there are several options to try alone or in combination. Go for high-quality sources like Gaia, Wish Garden or Eclectic Institute, or professional grade brands like those in my online holistic apothecary.
Peppermint. Place 1 or 2 drops essential oil of peppermint in a spray bottle and spray it near your nose periodically. You can also put the drops on a piece of cloth, or in an essential oil diffuser, and smell it as often as needed.
Red raspberry leaf. Take 1-2 capsules or 1 ml tincture 1-2 times per day.
Wild yam tincture. Take 20-30 drops 3-6 times a day, or 1 dropperful up to every few hours depending on the severity of your symptoms.
Dandelion tincture. Can be taken on it’s own, but is especially effective in combination with wild yam. Take 20-30 drops 3-4 times daily.
Ginger root powder. If no history of 2 or more miscarriages, take 250 mg capsules up to 4 times per day.
New Chapter’s Ginger Honey Tonic. Can be taken in 1-2 tsp doses as often as needed, as can all natural ginger lozenges, ginger sucking candies and dried crystalized ginger pieces.
Slippery Elm. Can be taken in lozenge form or as a thin porridge, by adding water to the powder and honey to taste.
Umeboshi (sour plum). Can be taken as sucking or chewable candies, and are available in most health food stores.
CBD from hemp oil. This is the new rage, as it relieves morning sickness without the potential risks of the THC component of cannabis on the developing fetus. Results from anecdotal evidence and preliminary research, although sparse (as is common with most natural remedies in pregnancy), are promising. Make sure it is absolutely pure, and from a reputable source who can recommend proper dosing or from pharmacies licensed to dispense it, as it is largely unregulated. It is usually taken as several drops under the tongue.
Fresh homemade herbal teas can work wonders for nausea during pregnancy. Do some experimenting to find what is most helpful to you:
Immerse a tiny piece of fresh ginger, or 1 tsp grated ginger in a cup of boiling water for 5-15 minutes. Strain into a glass and sip up to two cups throughout the day.
Dandelion root can be taken with or without the ginger. Add approximately 5 Tbsp dried root or about 10 Tbsp fresh root to 1 quart boiling water. Let it brew for 3-4 hours, strain into a glass canning jar, and periodically sip totaling up to 2 cups per day.
Add 1 Tbsp dried chamomile to 1 cup boiling water and steep covered for 10 minutes. Strain into a glass and sip periodically, up to 2 cups daily.
In 1 cup boiling water, add a tsp of dried or 2 Tbsp fresh leaves of peppermint or spearmint. Immerse covered for 15 minutes and drink as often as needed. You can make your own mint smelling remedy, by placing fresh mint leaves in a covered container, crush the leaves each time you open it, and smell throughout the day as often as you need.
You can add a dash of honey, lemon or lime juice to any of the above teas to taste.
Try making ice cubes of strong ginger, peppermint or red raspberry tea and suck on them every few hours.
You can make your own mint smelling remedy by placing fresh mint leaves in a covered container, crushing the leaves each time you open it, and smelling throughout the day as often as you need.
Take a good whole food all-natural prenatal vitamin like New Chapter, Innate Response, or Vitamin Code. Add an additional supplement of 25-50 mg Vitamin B complex 1-2 times per day, depending on how much nausea, vomiting and fatigue you are experiencing. A whole food or herbal iron supplement can also be taken, after meals as needed if you are anemic. It tends to be well absorbed and better tolerated than the pharmaceutical formulations, especially ferrous sulfate that actually upsets the stomach.
If your symptoms are severe and you cannot tolerate taking supplements, just take 25 mg Vitamin B6 three times per day. If even that is too much and your nausea is accompanied by the great exhaustion of early pregnancy, consider a Vitamin B injection from a compounding natural pharmacy.
Another option when dealing with severe symptoms is to combine Vitamin B6 with a rather safe over-the-counter antihistamine medication doxylamine, known as Unisom, which is available in most drug stores. Take 1/2 tablet or 25 mg before sleep with 25 mg of vitamin B6. You can take the other half in the morning with your first B6 dose but it may make you drowsy. And do not forget the midday 25 mg dose of B6. The combination of Vitamin B6 and Unisom or the prescriptive version called Bongesta can be phenomenally successful at reducing severe nausea during pregnancy, and is considered the best pharmacological treatment around.
While there are many herbalists and holistic midwives whose books line my shelves, with now a plethora of recipes and recommendations used effectively around the world for countless years all over the internet, Dr. Aviva Romm remains one of my favorite resources for safe effective use of herbs in childbearing. She is an integrative physician, midwife and herbalist who has done extensive research and compiled the most comprehensive, evidence based reference guide I have come across called Botanical Guide For Women’s Health. In The Natural Pregnancy Book she advises a wonderfully effective Japanese treatment if you feel like a bout of vomiting is coming on or if you have been already vomiting multiple times:
Heat ½ cup sea salt in skillet for 3 minutes.
Put the salt in a pillow case or other suitable sack.
Fold into a rectangular pad or small square and wrap it in another towel if too hot.
Apply pack directly to your stomach in your upper right abdomen (not lower belly).
Wear acupressure wristbands, or Seabands, which place constant pressure on the acupressure points related to nausea. These can be purchased in most health food stores and some pharmacies, have been very effective for some women. Or get regular acupuncture treatments.
Homeopathic remedies are safe and amazingly effective in treating nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. You can consult with a classical homeopath, or refer to books like Homeopathy For Pregnancy, Birth and Your Baby’s First Year by Miranda Castro. Some women report much success with Weleeda’s homeopathic combination Nausin (7 – 10 drops four times per day).
Do not take over-the-counter medications without checking with your health care provider, as many are not safe during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester.
Please call your health care provider if you have severe persistent vomiting such that you can not keep anything down for more than 24 hours, you are losing weight, dehydrated, and/or you feel faint, as you may need medication, or even intravenous hydration.
Final Consideration: Your Nausea May Have an Emotional Component
Mental conflict and emotional turmoil can greatly contribute to nausea and vomiting, as does ambivalence about your pregnancy. Make a conscious effort to work on increasing feelings of forgiveness, appreciation, love, joy, optimism, and healing. Likewise, try to let go of anger, resentment, fear, sadness, and other negative thought patterns that are not serving you. Conscious connected breathing as in Clarity Breathwork is a highly effective way of doing this naturally, without much effort.
Try to avoid things, thoughts and people that agitate your mind and raise your internal tension. Surround yourself as much as possible with calm, centered people, things, sounds and places that inspire, relax you, cause you to feel at ease and restore you to inner peace and serenity.
Talk through ambivalent or troubling feelings with your partner, close friend or therapist as needed. Don’t be afraid to seek counseling if you need help with this, as it is not only helpful to express your feelings with a sympathetic ear, but also to develop skills of self mastery and empowerment. Breathwork however will release issues that can not be resolved through thinking and talking, and shave off years of therapy.
If your nausea is extreme or persists in spite of following the above guidelines, consult your physician or midwife or schedule a consultation with me. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or do not even know what questions to ask, I can help you!
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