Updated post from a few years ago.
Most women who are pregnant experience some form of “morning sickness” which is a misnomer if ever I heard one. I was rarely sick in the morning specifically. My episodes of nausea and vomiting were almost totally tied to smell or taste. In my first pregnancy, more than once I opened the fridge and some smell struck me and I had to vomit so quickly that I didn’t even try to make it to the bathroom. Fortunately, we had a Dispos-All. The main smells that got me was bread and greens that were starting to go bad. I would either not go down the bread aisle at the store, or take a deep breath and go quickly to get what I needed and get back out. I could eat bread–liked it even–but couldn’t stand the concentrated smell of it. My second pregnancy was a bit easier because I had learned so much during my first–I didn’t even attempt to eat certain things; if something even slightly didn’t appeal to me, I’d avoid it like the plague; and I didn’t worry about eating something out of politeness’ sake. Still, I had some nausea and vomiting, up through the whole first half of both pregnancies. But I know I had it easy.
Unfortunately, a lot of the cases of morning sickness don’t seem to have a known cause, or it’s something you can’t really help (like pregnancy making your hormones out of whack). Nutrition and vitamins are essential, and they are some of the easiest things that you can control. While you can try to avoid known smell triggers or reduce your stress level, you are more likely to be able to control what you put in your mouth much easier than what environment you are in. If you’re not yet pregnant, starting to eat nutritious food and taking prenatal vitamins now will help reduce morning sickness later. If you’re already pregnant and only have mild morning sickness, nutrition and vitamins can keep it from getting worse. Unfortunately, many women have trouble tolerating prenatal vitamins–some women throw them up every time–so you may need to find some different forms of this, such as chewable tablets, or just try to get everything through diet, by being extremely conscious of what you’re eating.
I’m on a few different email lists, and asked specifically for non-medicinal ways to help with morning sickness. Their responses will be below. Some of these things listed will be herbs or supplements, so I want to be very clear that I personally have little or no knowledge of this spectrum of treatments. I like herbs and vitamins and nutrition as ways of preventing or healing disease, but I’ve not taken any of these, and would strongly encourage you to check them out yourself, talk to a qualified herbalist, etc., before taking them. It’s possible that some of these things listed may not be advisable during pregnancy, although I believe that they are all perfectly safe; or you need to check the strength or quantity. [As Lavar Burton on Reading Rainbow always said, “Don’t take my word for it!”]
I had hyperemesis with both of my pregnancies and ginger didn’t help at all. I threw up somewhere between 10-18 times a day, whether I ate or not, and at times it was difficult to even get fluids into me because my veins had collapsed or rolled. I also suffered low iron and couldn’t hold down vitamins or any type of pill. My best advice would be a sublingual like nux vomica, and tablespoons of molasses for natural iron. At the end of my second trimester I also had a beer daily for natural iron and not only did I hold it down but my iron didn’t drop to dangerous levels so I was able to birth my second at home. With the first I never would have done such a thing, so of course I took phenergan and slept most of the time and was put at high risk for low iron. Best advice for vitamins would be flintstone chewables :)
I read a great book called “No More Morning Sickness” which gives ideas about dietary cures. The main thing is to encourage her to eat regularly, because keeping her blood sugar level even and keeping something in her stomach helps curbs the nausea. I had steady sickness with all my pregnancies. I found that eating something right before bed helped in the morning. Also stress contributed to it in the late afternoon and early evening.
This book recommends eating what you have a taste for–separating the tastes to salty, sweet, sour and then just figuring what you really want. She had some patients who were able to keep it at bay by just eating what they craved. Being too worried about the necessary food groups can sometimes present with more stress. So, if she just wants lemonade and watermelon or something like that, it’s still OK!
I’ve had two moms now with severe morning sickness. Both had thyroid issues and both were resolved with iodine supplements and Vitamin C to increase the uptake of the iodine. Martin Watt, www.aromamedical.com, medical herbalist recommends sea kelp pills instead of iodine.And: www.drshevin.com. He is the homeopath who worked with the mama in my class. She was at the point she had lost 20 pounds, coming up on 6 months of pregnancy when she finally went to see him.
I had this with all 4 of my children (and it got worse with each one). I can tell you for certain that almost all the common remedies do not work for most women with this issue.
One thing that did help me was eating extremely small amounts of food very often. I also took a liquid supplement in order to try to get some nutrition in me. Even drinking water was difficult at times. I took a homeopathic remedy that I got from a great doc that helped about 30% of the symptoms. I can say that ginger made me feel worse and that I threw up crackers and jello and just about everything else.
My midwife recommends injections of vitamin B-12. But since you’re asking for non-medical ways, perhaps a sublingual B-12 supplement might have some effect?
I suffered through hyperemesis gravidarum with all 4 of my pregnancies. I was under the care of an OB for each and other than one giving me B6 shots (which had no effect) and one offering to rx an anti-nausea medication given to chemotherapy patients, got no help from “professionals” on this.
Through trial and error I finally got some lasting relief during my last pregnancy utilizing the following:
~lots of protein, good healthy fat included (only fats occurring naturally in meats. I did not and don’t recommend going no-fat. Just don’t add margarine/transfats to things. These kinds of fats, like shortening-fried things, made the vomiting worse.) For me personally, a good piece of baked chicken did me the most good.
~ABSOLUTELY no sugars, refined flour, nothing. When I went w/o these and then had some sugar (a small piece of cake, a cookie, even one bite of something sugary) the symptoms/vomiting came rushing back with a vengeance.After about 4 or 5 days without sugar the vomiting would go away almost entirely.
~water. When I was even mildly dehydrated I found myself vomiting more.
~the smell of lemons seemed to cut the queasy when the above were in place and I wasn’t actually vomiting. Eating them didn’t help with vomiting, but the SMELL did help cut the nausea.
Linda Rae said:
Well, for morning sickness in general, eating small (very small in her case, I would think) protein snacks throughout the day, along with very small meals that include veggies and whole grains to keep up on nutrition as much as possible. It can help to have dry (whole grain toast) or a bit of cheese or other protein snack available next to the bed, so that you nibble before getting up. The idea of keeping always a little bit in the tummy without ever putting in a lot is key here.
Ginger made me quite nauseous during my 3rd pregnancy, although I know it works great for some. Mint tea can be calming for the stomach. Sip teas and healthy fluids. Sometimes just sipping water warm can help the tummy handle it. Ginger ales made from REAL ginger (available sometimes at health food stores), sipped, help some (again, they only made me feel worse when I was already sick – not during preg. this time).
Be careful to avoid any “empty” foods right now, as well as any foods you know you are sensitive to in any way. (I know this is for someone else, but it’s easier for me to write as if I’m speaking directly to whomever) Often, but certainly not always, nutrition has been quite poor before h.g. set in. Nutrition is key either way, whether improving significantly, or maintaining as much as possible.
Dr. Jen said:
The only thing that worked for me was a flax-based B vitamin, so it stays in the system longer. “Linum B6” It has worked for every woman I have ever given it or sent it to.
For dosage information, please read the information at the end of this section. See also “Using Homeopathy With Professional Guidance” in What Is Homeopathy?Asarum: This remedy is indicated when a woman feels very ill, with constant nausea and retching. She is extremely sensitive to everything—especially noise, which can aggravate the nauseous feelings. She feels best when lying down and resting. Cool drinks or food may help, but it is hard for her to even think of eating.Colchicum: Horrible nausea that is worse from the sight and smell of food (especially eggs or fish) often indicates this remedy. The woman retches and vomits, and has a sore and bloated feeling in the abdomen. She has trouble eating anything — although she often craves things, when she tries to eat them they make her sick. She is likely to feel ill from many smells that others don’t even notice.Ipecacuanha: This remedy is indicated for intense and constant nausea that is felt all day (not only in the morning) with retching, belching, and excessive salivation. The woman may feel worse from lying down, but also worse from motion. Even after the woman vomits, she remains nauseous.Kreosotum: When this remedy is indicated, the woman may salivate so much that she constantly swallows it, becoming nauseous. She may also vomit up food that looks undigested, several hours after eating.Lacticum acidum: This remedy is indicated for “classic morning sickness”: nausea worse immediately on waking in the morning and on opening the eyes. The woman may salivate a lot and have burning stomach pain. She usually has a decent appetite and feels better after eating.Nux vomica: Nausea, especially in the morning and after eating, may respond to this remedy—especially if the woman is irritable, impatient, and chilly. She may retch a lot and have the urge to vomit, often without success. Her stomach feels sensitive and crampy, and she may be constipated.Pulsatilla: This remedy can be helpful if nausea is worse in the afternoon and evening (often in the morning, as well). The woman is not very thirsty, although she may feel better from drinking something cool. She can crave many different foods, but feels sick from many things (including foods she craves). Creamy foods or desserts may be appealing, but can cause discomfort and burping or bring on vomiting. A woman who needs this remedy usually is affectionate, insecure, and weepy—wanting a lot of attention and comforting.Sepia: Gnawing, intermittent nausea with an empty feeling in the stomach suggests a need for this remedy. It is especially indicated for a woman who is feeling irritable, sad, worn out, and indifferent to her family. She feels worst in the morning before she eats, but is not improved by eating and may vomit afterward. Nausea can be worse when she is lying on her side. Odors of any kind may aggravate the symptoms. Food often tastes too salty. She may lose her taste for many foods, but may still crave vinegar and sour things.Tabacum: This remedy can be helpful to a woman who feels a ghastly nausea with a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. She looks extremely pale, feels very cold and faint, and needs to lie very still and keep her eyes closed. If she moves at all, she may vomit violently—or break out in cold sweat and feel terrible.
Homeopathy Dosage Directions
Select the remedy that most closely matches the symptoms. In conditions where self-treatment is appropriate, unless otherwise directed by a physician, a lower potency (6X, 6C, 12X, 12C, 30X, or 30C) should be used. In addition, instructions for use are usually printed on the label.
Many homeopathic physicians suggest that remedies be used as follows: Take one dose and wait for a response. If improvement is seen, continue to wait and let the remedy work. If improvement lags significantly or has clearly stopped, another dose may be taken. The frequency of dosage varies with the condition and the individual. Sometimes a dose may be required several times an hour; other times a dose may be indicated several times a day; and in some situations, one dose per day (or less) can be sufficient.
If no response is seen within a reasonable amount of time, select a different remedy.