6 Tips for Pregnancy Nausea from an ObGyn
Oct 28, 2019
by Christine Sterling, M.D., FACOG
The impact of feeling awful for weeks to months, especially at a time when you are supposed to be happy, cannot be overstated. Nausea is one of the most ruthless of the pregnancy symptoms. It’s not just a physical experience. It can have a profound impact on your mood and emotional wellbeing too.
Hugs Momma, I’ve been there. Here is some information to help you feel better.
What causes the nausea?
Though the exact cause is unknown, the nausea of pregnancy is likely due, in part, to a relaxation of your stomach and the hormones of pregnancy. From an evolutionary perspective, it is thought that the sensitivity to the smell of certain foods may have protected pregnant women from eating potentially hazardous or spoiled foods. For unknown reasons, women who experience nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy have lower rates of miscarriage.
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is the most severe form of the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. It is diagnosed when you lose 5% (or more) of your pre-pregnancy body weight.
What Can I Do?
1. Small Frequent Meals
As mentioned above, pregnancy hormones cause the smooth muscles of your stomach, in fact the smooth muscles of your entire gastrointestinal tract, to relax. This means that food moves more slowly through your digestive tract and stays longer in your stomach. The slowing of food through your body contributes to nausea, constipation and bloating.
If you are experiencing nausea (or constipation/bloating) it is important not to overwhelm your digestive tract with too much food too quickly. Eat slowly and consistently throughout the day.
Many find the hunger sensation to be a huge trigger for nausea. Set an alarm every 2 hrs for a snack. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may need to enlist your partner or a friend to prepare snacks for you to bring to work or when you need to leave the house. If you are really struggling with nausea, eat what you can my dear, even if it’s not the most nutrient-packed food.
2. Self Care and Sleep
Sometimes pregnancy is survival mode. What do you do when you can barely make it through the day? You go back to basics. Drop the expectations, the To Do List, and just take care of you. Sleep is perhaps the most crucial piece of the self-care equation, particularly when it comes to nausea and fatigue. To that end, I created a Self Care Workbook for Pregnancy, that will help you focus your self-care efforts where it matters.
3. Vitamin B6 Supplementation
Studies show that those who are taking a prenatal vitamin that includes Vitamin B6 for several months before pregnancy have lower rates of nausea.
Even if it’s too late, or perhaps you did that but still ended up with nausea anyway, there is still benefit to vitamin B6 supplementation. If okay with your OB, try taking 10-25 mg of Vitamin B6 three to four times a day.
Ginger helps many with their nausea symptoms. Whether it’s ginger candy, soda or tea, taking in a little when the nausea first hits can be helpful. I eventually grew averse to the taste/smell of ginger since I was taking so much. Switching to ginger capsules that you swallow without tasting was key for me. Studies show that Ginger Capsules (250mg) taken 4 times daily can help with nausea.
I know this may be the last thing you want to do when you are feeling like crap, but getting outside, and into nature, can be just what you need when a wave of nausea arrives. Many of us who experience nausea, get into what I call the “nausea funk,” and even when you aren’t nauseous you are worrying and afraid of getting nauseous. Stress and anxiety only make your nausea worse. Stress hormones tell your body to slow down digestion in preparation for a potential fight or flight situation, only making your symptoms worse. Time in nature, even in short amounts, has been shown to reduce stress. Break up your worry and funk by stepping outdoors and taking a deep breath.
6. Prescription medications
For some of us, these supplements and lifestyle changes simply will not be enough to combat our nausea and vomiting. In my first pregnancy, I was on 3 different prescription medications. It happens. Talk to you OB about the benefits and risks of the different prescription medications in pregnancy. If you would like to do some of your own research about these medications, mothertobaby.org is an excellent resource.
I hope this article helps you find some relief. I know how challenging these symptoms can be. Remember, the #1 rule in all of this is to be gentle with yourself.
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