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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Northeast Mississippi Birthing Project

As a local group of Birthing Project USA, the Northeast Missisippi Birthing Project [blog] has as its goal improving maternal outcomes and reducing infant mortality. By providing at-risk pregnant women with a sister-friend to help them during pregnancy, mothers and babies have better outcomes. [“At-risk” includes teen moms, single moms, moms without insurance, etc., not necessarily a medical risk.] Our primary goal is the reduction of infant mortality. For more information, click the links I’ve already given, because the work is really wonderful and the results have been astounding. If you’ve been looking for something concrete to do to help pregnant women, this is something you really should look into. There are branches all over the United States, so you may be able to find out already started; or you may be able to start one in your area. For a brief overview of what we do, please watch the video below [btw, I made it, so of course I like it! :-)] —

I laughed until I cried!

A Man’s Guide to HomeBirth on Dr. Momma [Update: it was removed from Dr. Momma, but here it is in full.]

This is hilarious! Simply hilarious. I’ll give you a taste, but you must read the whole thing:

These are the items that men need to assist in a homebirth (not in order of use by the way): a black-light, princess wand (any type of wand toy will do,) fun-house mirror, catchers mitt/fishing net/soccer gloves, pocket watch, thesaurus, gum, woman who has witnessed a live birth, six pack of beer (or favorite alcohol), shovel, bucket, 1 dozen eggs, shredded mozzarella cheese, shower shoes, swimming shorts, push-up/pull-up bars or a wheelbarrow, old table covers (plastic holiday ones are best,) 1 big steak (or other red meat,) and 1 big cliche. Most of these items are for preparing for the birth, while a few are for the actual birthing….

So when I came down the stairs and was informed that she was in labor at 9am-ish, I felt ready this time since I just slept for 10 friggin hours. Alas, after hanging around downstairs for about ten minutes, my eyes rolled into the back of my head and I went and took a nap. On a side note, this is where the doula’s biggest strength lies – they are highly trained to withstand the Hypno-Fog. It was after that nap during the Hypno-Fog stage that I discovered that women who are about to go into labor cast this area-of-effect spell that can drop a man to the floor in a matter of minutes….

Pregnancy, Prematurity and Pumping

First up — I was invited to do a guest post on the “Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy” blog on my experience with pumping breastmilk for someone else’s baby. The post was inspired by this video, entitled “Prescription Milk,” which focuses primarily on the importance of babies — particularly premature babies — getting human milk for their nutrition.

It was so touching that the mother featured in the trailer chose to celebrate and memorialize her daughter’s brief life, by continuing to pump milk even after her own baby died, so that other babies might live.

My personal experience was that I had over-supply issues, so being able to pump extra was a blessing, instead of having to try to minimize my production. Some mothers may not be able to pump enough milk to feed their babies, but there isn’t enough donated milk to supply all the babies who need it. If you are currently pregnant or breastfeeding, or know someone who is, please look into becoming a milk donor through the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, your local hospital, some other organization, or (like I did) just giving a friend bottles or bags of milk. You have to be screened to make sure you aren’t carrying any diseases that may be transmissible through breastmilk, so get started on the process as soon as you can.

Pregnancy is the perfect time to start preparing yourself for breastfeeding. The best way to do that is to talk to women who have successfully breastfed, and watch women breastfeed. I emphasize, “successfully breastfed,” because so many women tell horror stories of how awful breastfeeding was, and how they ended up with sore, cracked, even bleeding nipples, or how they “tried to breastfeed, but I never could make enough milk,” or some other unsuccessful breastfeeding experience. You wouldn’t ask a poor man how to become a millionaire; you wouldn’t ask a teenager for tips on a successful marriage; and you definitely wouldn’t ask me for tips on how to run fast or throw a baseball. 😉 You would instead seek out someone who had been successful in whatever it is you were wanting to succeed. Likewise, don’t ask someone who had a horrible time breastfeeding for breastfeeding tips (even if the lactation person she saw at the hospital said she was doing everything right, or she is otherwise sure she did what she was supposed to do). Or if you do, don’t be surprised if you, too, have a horrible time breastfeeding! Instead, seek out those who had an easy time, who were successful, who had no pain, who nursed as long as they wanted to (and/or longer than they expected). If you don’t know anyone that fits that description, or feel awkward asking to watch them as they nurse their babies, don’t despair! There is a book filled with beautiful and intimate breastfeeding images, along with clear and simple text, to help you see what a good latch really looks like and how to achieve that.

Get the book now, while you’re still pregnant, read the text, study the pictures, take it with you to the hospital (or just keep it at your bed-side table if you’re having a home birth), and start breastfeeding off not just correctly but confidently. As World Breastfeeding Week draws to a close, let’s not just celebrate breastfeeding, but help support women as they breastfeed, and remove hindrances that would keep them from success.

~*~

Update — I just noticed that WP has added a “like” feature to posts — that’s cool! 🙂

Kegels don’t do squat?

If there is one mantra, dogma, or axiomatic belief among women “in the know” when it comes to birth and babies, it’s that Kegels are wonderful, necessary, beneficial, etc. Now, someone is challenging that assertion. In short, the way the pelvic floor is understood is wrong, and needs to be changed. Tighter doesn’t necessarily mean better; it just means tighter, which may actually lead to a worsening of the problem. You need to read the whole article, because I’m skipping a lot (or else I’d be tempted to copy and paste most of it, but that wouldn’t be nice), but basically, squatting is what she recommends for incontinence and other things that Kegels are supposed to help.

If she just said that Kegels don’t work, I might be a tad suspicious that rather than being a lone voice of reason, she’s a lone voice for a reason [sorry, couldn’t help the chiasmus there :-)], although I’ve read enough from people who say that most women don’t do them right, and doing them “wrong” is worse than not doing any at all to know that there are many people who share her opinion at least to an extent. However, it was her suggestion of doing squats rather than Kegels which resonated with me.

Squatting is natural; doing Kegels is not, really. For most of human history, women (and men too) had to do a lot of physically demanding work, including a lot of squatting — tending the fire, garden, children, etc. Even in the absence of work, squatting was a natural way to rest and relax, if a chair was not available for whatever reason. Squatting is a normal part of life except for (primarily Western) adults who view squatting as either menial or childish. It’s not really a normal part of life to try to stop and hold the Kegel muscles, is it?

So, I’ll add this to my mental list of reasons to squat more regularly. What do you think of this article?

Pure-breds vs. Mongrels

Nope, not dogs, cats, horses, or any other animal. I’m talking about humans. Sorry if the term “mongrel” offends you, but I’m including myself in this group, and it seems a handy term to identify people of mixed genetic background. This is not necessarily so-called “mixed race” offspring, but anything that is not “pure-bred” (or shall I say “inbred”? — My dad was 100% Dutch — we can trace all of his ancestors back to Holland in the 1860s, and some of his ancestors all the way back to the 1500s or 1600s; so when I talk about inbreeding, I’m including him and all the other “genetically pure” or “ethnically pure” people like that). I kinda like to say “inbred” because “pure” sounds so hoity-toity and “holier than thou,” while “inbred” has negative connotations. Using terms like inbred and mongrel kinda puts us all on equal footing [“all men are created equal,” after all], even if these terms are negative sounding. I’m not intending to be offensive; I’m typing this with an amused smirk on my face, and hope you all can see the humor in it. You see, America is a great “melting pot”; although apparently some groups haven’t “melted” as much as others. When I lived in Chicago, one of my husband’s friends (a Jamaican) was married to a Polish woman who I believe was native-born American. She was pure-bred [inbred? ;-)] Polish, and she and her parents and extended family all spoke Polish to each other, but spoke English to others. It was actually pretty humorous — we went to their child’s birthday party, and because I was white, all her Polish friends and family thought I must be Polish too, so they started off talking to me in Polish. Needless to say, I got on better with the Jamaican grandmother because we both spoke English, than with the Polish grandmother, although those who were bilingual spoke English to me. Many big American cities have neighborhoods called “Little Italy” and “Chinatown” and so forth, because people from one country or another tended to congregate in one spot and maintain their ethnic identity, rather than truly “melt” together. This is also how my dad was able to be pure Dutch, though all his ancestors left Holland a few generations before he was even born — they all settled in a very “Dutch” part of the country, and continued the tradition of Dutch marrying Dutch (see why I call it “inbreeding”?)… until my dad met my mom who has a who-knows-what genetic background.

One of the things that people often say about America and our birth outcomes is that we are of mixed genetic heritage — good ol’ melting pot, with many people claiming ancestry in half-a-dozen different European countries, and others combining genetics from entirely different continents. I think that’s great; but there is a theoretical problem with this mixing, if, for example, a woman with a genetically small pelvis, thanks to generations of inbreeding (for example, Koreans marrying only Koreans and giving birth to Koreans for millennia), marrying a man with a genetically large head (like, apparently, the Dutch, judging by my dad’s family photos), and then ending up with a theoretical baby that has a head too big to fit through the mother’s pelvis. I say “theoretical” because I don’t know if it’s been proven. [Also, it seems to be at least an equal chance that the baby would end up with the mother’s small head and body, so it’s really being prejudicial to say that a hypothetical child would definitely be too big to be born vaginally.] I remember reading about (and I blogged about it previously) a study in which Asian women married to white men had C-sections at a higher rate than white women married to Asian men. However, I wonder how much of the C-section rate was due to the doctor’s prejudicial decision that the baby would be too big for the woman’s pelvis, so was quicker to call for a C-section than he would have otherwise. And I also think of that one “Baby Story” I watched with a short woman and a big and tall husband, and she was induced because the doctors feared that with her husband being that big, the baby would be too big if she went to her due date. Birthweight? Six pounds and change. Um, yeah; that’s big. [Sarcasm]

So, are America’s high C-section rate, and poor rates of things like maternal and infant mortality due to us being a genetic melting pot? Or is it possibly something else?

What got me thinking on this topic again was this article I read, about a New Yorker living in Japan (married to a Japanese man, having lived there for years), trying to have a home-birth. In the article, the woman said that 1 out of 10 couples in Tokyo is “mixed” — I wonder if that would be a better place for a study into the theoretical problem of mixed genetics leading to “unbirthable” babies. We could look retrospectively at birth records of the three groups: “pure bred” Japanese mothers and fathers; Japanese mothers and foreign fathers; and foreign mothers and Japanese fathers; and see what if any differences there are in the C-section rate and birth outcomes of the three groups. It wouldn’t totally do away with provider bias, but it seems more likely to me that Japanese doctors would be less likely to stamp a Japanese pelvis with “FAIL” than American doctors might be — nationalistic pride, if nothing else, perhaps?

At the least, it would be interesting to see if the C-section rate for Japanese mothers and gaijin fathers would be similar to that of the American study.

Skin-to-Skin in the O.R. after a C-section

Being born vaginally is good for babies, in part because it colonizes them with the mother’s good bacteria, setting them on the road to health; a C-section bypasses this normal process and may be part of the reason why babies born by Cesarean have higher rates of things like asthma. But putting the baby skin-to-skin with the mom, especially after a Cesarean, can restore some of this good colonization; otherwise, the baby will be colonized only with hospital bacteria. Skin-to-skin contact is also beneficial in facilitating breastfeeding. Typically, when babies are born, they have an innate ability and desire to get to the breast and self-attach; wrapping babies up in a blanket like a burrito prevents this. All too often, whether the baby is born vaginally or by C-section, babies are only briefly shown to the mom right after birth, and then are taken across the room for the newborn assessment and procedures, before finally being returned to their mothers securely swaddled in a hospital blanket. Then, many times, babies are taken to the nursery soon after birth for a bath, then kept in the nursery under the warmer for a few hours to warm back up, and then finally taken back to their mothers… just in time for them to fall asleep for a few hours. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Healthy babies can — and should — be placed skin-to-skin with their mothers immediately after birth, even with a C-section.

Update: Here’s a video showing skin-to-skin after a C-section


If you had a C-section, were you able to have your baby put skin-to-skin in the operating room? Did you even know that was a possibility? If you are a nurse or midwife, do you ever put babies skin-to-skin on their moms, even if they have a C-section?

Weigh in on this topic on the Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy fan page [currently, it’s the most recent post, dated May 28]. Laura Keegan, the author of Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy, will be giving Grand Rounds in June/July, so will have the opportunity to talk about this important topic to attending physicians, L&D nurses, and residents in OB, pediatrics, and family practice. She would love to have input from women about their experiences with skin-to-skin contact (or the lack thereof) after both vaginal and Cesarean births, to pass along to the doctors, nurses, and doctors-in-training. What did it mean to you to be able to hold your baby with nothing between you, and just a blanket put over both of you? What did it mean to you to be denied this? Please comment on the fan page post, and also spread the word (blog, share on facebook, Tweet about it, etc.), so that doctors and nurses can find out from you and other women what they otherwise might not hear.