Possible Morning Sickness Remedies

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!”]

Lara says:

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 🙂

Ruth says:

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!

Dale says:

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.

Jennifer said:

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.

Tricia has some remedies on her website (scroll down to “morning sickness”).
Netsitsah says:

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?

Kelly said:

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.

Candace mentioned an article in Mothering magazine about this.

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.

Julie mentioned Dr. Katharina Dalton, MD who talks in her books about using natural progesterone successfully for nausea and hyperemesis.
Lynn posted a link to this article on morning sickness, as well as the following information on homeopathic remedies. I like this because it has a lot of different things to try, but has specific symptoms that can guide you into trying the most useful things first. Again, you’ll need to check the dosage strength and administration.
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.

For more information, including references, see What is Homeopathy? and Understanding Homeopathic Potencies.

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Morning Sickness — Don’t be a Hero!

For both of my pregnancies, I had mild morning sickness — not really worth even talking about, compared to many women’s experiences. The only thing was, in my first pregnancy, it didn’t strike most often in the morning; and in both pregnancies, it lasted until about the half-way point.

The first time I was pregnant, I thought I could just “muscle through” the nausea — you know, “be in control” — tell my body what to do, teach it who is boss. Ha-ha!

The big triggers for me in the first pregnancy were the smell of bread (walking down the bread aisle in the grocery store was torture; occasionally I would open up the fridge [where I kept my bread, so it wouldn’t go stale or get moldy so fast], catch a whiff, and barely be able to make it to the sink in time — and it was just behind me… fortunately it had a garbage disposal!), and the smell of leafy greens that were starting to go bad (I dry-heaved a lot when trying to pick out the few leaves that were gross so I could salvage the rest of the bunch of cilantro or head of lettuce). I could eat bread without a problem, but I couldn’t bear the overwhelming smell. And I still don’t like to go down the bread aisle at the grocery store, even not pregnant.

There were a few other instances in my first pregnancy that I remember, but none so bad as the time my dear, sweet husband made ravioli for me. Let me back up a bit for a little context — I was working the evening shift at a nice restaurant, so I had to eat my supper about 4:30, right before going to work. I was intending on grabbing something quick from the fridge after I got ready, but my husband made some ravioli with Classico spaghetti sauce for me while I was getting ready. That was really very sweet of him, of course! But my stomach said “NO!!! ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!?!?” Me, being the smart girl I am, told my stomach to shut up, because I wasn’t going to hurt my husband’s feelings or act like his act of kindness meant nothing to me. I was being polite. Stupid, stupid move! I quickly ate my supper, although my stomach was recoiling with almost every bite, and I was telling myself, “Just get it down, and everything will be all right.” Um, not so much. After I finished the meal, my stomach went into full revolt, I ran desperately for the toilet, and didn’t quite make it. I managed to throw up into the bathroom sink, rather than on the floor. Every bit. Then I felt better — but I had no time to fix anything else to eat, nor to clean up the mess. So, my wonderful husband cleaned it up after I had gone, and I went to work hungry. Fortunately, there were some french fries or some bread or something for me to eat right before shift started, so I wasn’t working at 4-5 months pregnant on a completely empty stomach, but it still wasn’t fun. At least the nausea didn’t linger — that’s one good thing about morning sickness (for me anyway) — once the nauseous thing was out of sight, mind, or smell, I was fine.

That experience taught me not to try to be a hero with morning sickness. After that, for the remainder of that pregnancy and the full nine months of my other pregnancy, if at any point I even thought, “Will this make me sick?” I refused to put it in my mouth, and put as much distance between that food and myself as possible. For one thing, I stopped trying to pick out the good lettuce from the bad, which for someone as frugal as I am says a lot. Of course, there were some “triggers” I couldn’t avoid (my toddler’s diapers spring to mind); but while I had some nausea with my second pregnancy, I did not throw up as much as with my first.

Towards the end of my first pregnancy, my husband’s brother visited — we were still living in the Chicago area at that point, and they wanted to get Italian beef sandwiches from Johnnie’s Beef (which is their favorite Italian beef place) for lunch, and I usually like them. My stomach said, “Um, I’m not so sure about this!” So I got a salad or something. While I can remember watching them savor their meal, and wishing I could partake, I also remember feeling a little nauseated from the smell, and very glad I got something else. There is not a doubt in my mind that had I tried to triumph over my stomach, that my stomach would have won.

I still don’t like to go down the bread aisles, but I think that’s just because of the strong negative association from morning sickness; ditto Classico — I can eat it now, many years later, but I would prefer not to (and I wouldn’t even try it when pregnant the second time).

Check out my other posts on morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum for more references and links.

Great minds must think alike, because this blog I keep up with just posted on the same subject!

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New HG Study Underway

Click here for the full information, but here is a paragraph of information:

HG Researchers need your help! This study is designed to identify individuals affected with HG, to study epidemiologic factors via an online survey, to collect DNA samples from saliva through the mail at no cost or travel for you, and to search for genes and risk factors that may be potentially associated with this condition. To be eligible, you must have suffered from HG and had treatment for your HG that includes i.v. hydration, TPN or other form of non-oral feeding (ie nasogastric feeding), OR both, and are able to recruit a friend with at least 2 pregnancies who has NOT suffered from HG to serve as a control.

More information, including contact information, at the Help HER website.

h/t to The Whining Puker for the link!

Ashli’s Story

I became aware of Ashli McCall through the RealChoice blog. She is a woman who had such severe morning sickness (technical term for this horrid medical condition is hyperemesis gravidarum, or HG, for short), that she had an abortion because her doctor refused to give her anything to help her condition. Even when she lost 14% of her body weight. Even when she couldn’t keep down water. Even when she started hallucinating. Expecting her doctor to know of everything that could be done, if anything could be done, she felt like she had no choice when he had no suggestions for her (beyond the “crackers” that can calm typical morning sickness — which HG is not). So, she had an abortion. And found out afterwards that it was not necessary. That there were treatments — drugs and other things that can help alleviate the worst of the symptoms — that could help.

Here is her story, from an interview on CNN:

And here is a website for her book, Beyond Morning Sickness, with other resources on HG and other things that she has been through. And here is another group of links of anniversary posts of her abortion, on her Self-Induced Child Loss Experience Cell (S.I.C.L.E. Cell) blog. If you have HG and are considering an abortion because you can’t handle it any more (and HG can be so bad that you wish you were dead; and when nothing could be done for it, women have died of it), please read this. And Christa’s story.

Excellent reference for Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Never having had more than mild morning sickness (rarely in the mornings, of course), I can’t really relate to women who suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum. Most of my episodes of nausea and vomiting were triggered by certain smells (lettuce or other greens that had gone bad were the worst!) so as long as I avoided those triggers, I did pretty well. Even though my nausea lasted up through the first half of pregnancy, I only vomited a few times in each pregnancy — maybe once a week, if that, from weeks 6-22. Some women very nearly die from HG, because they cannot keep any food or liquid down, and are in danger of becoming dehydrated. I’ve even heard of women who have had abortions because they felt like they had no alternatives (their doctors ignored their pleas for help, or acted as if it were all in their heads, and did not prescribe them any medication or hospitalize them for rehydration through IVs — so sad!).

Since I’m always glad to be learning, I enjoy reading other people’s blogs for their perspective, knowledge, and wisdom. And here is an excellent blog about hyperemesis gravidarum: The Whining Puker. Not only does she have her first-hand experience, but she has book reviews, links to websites and blogs, and an amazing amount of research into Hyperemesis Helps — herbs, medications, tips, etc. Very excellent!