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Tips on Morning Sickness

Getting ready to welcome a tiny new addition to the family is an exciting time for expectant couples. From shopping for baby items to choosing the perfect name for your little one, there are many things to look forward to when preparing for a baby. However, there’s no denying that morning sickness can be a rather unpleasant period for pregnant women — yet it’s inevitable for most.

Thankfully, we’re here to help you navigate the discomfort of morning sickness during pregnancy. From finding the right foods and scents to bringing the right supplies to work, there are many steps you can take to prepare for unwanted nausea. Read on to discover some handy tips and remedies for morning sickness.

What Is Morning Sickness?

Morning sickness — also known as nausea and vomiting in pregnancy — is a common condition that occurs in approximately 70% of pregnancies. Women with morning sickness typically feel nauseous for a short period each day, vomiting maybe once or twice. They may also experience a loss of appetite and psychological effects like anxiety and depression. Despite its name, women can experience morning sickness at any time of day.

Severe cases of morning sickness are characterized by more frequent vomiting with up to several hours of nausea each day. They may also cause dehydration, dizziness, lightheadedness, and a weight loss of ten pounds or more. This severe morning sickness is known as hyperemesis gravidarum. However, this condition is rare and only occurs in up to 3% of pregnancies.

Generally speaking, morning sickness is harmless to the woman and unborn child. However, women who experience severe symptoms like dehydration and weight loss should seek prompt medical attention.

How Far Along Does Morning Sickness Start?

At what stage in pregnancy does morning sickness start? Most women will experience morning sickness during their first trimester. It usually begins around nine weeks after conception. Symptoms typically start to improve by the mid to late second trimester of pregnancy.

While morning sickness lasts about 14 weeks for most expectant mothers, others may experience nausea and vomiting for up to a few months or even throughout their pregnancy.

Is It Normal Not to Have Morning Sickness?

If you aren’t experiencing any nausea or vomiting during your pregnancy, there’s no need to worry. An estimated 70%-80% of pregnant women experience morning sickness, meaning roughly 20%-30% don’t have it at all. While it’s less common to experience no morning sickness, this is by no means a cause for concern.

A pregnant woman covering her mouth and holding her stomach.

What Causes Morning Sickness?

The exact cause of morning sickness is unknown, but a combination of factors is believed to play a significant role. Some possible causes of morning sickness include:

  • Low and fluctuated blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar
  • High levels of estrogen, human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), and other hormones
  • Altered carbohydrate metabolism
  • Major physical and chemical changes triggered by pregnancy

Additionally, certain factors are known to intensify morning sickness. This includes:

  • Stress
  • Motion sickness
  • Fatigue
  • Heat
  • Excess salivation
  • Smelling certain odors like perfumes, soaps, food cooking, cigarette smoke, coffee, and petroleum products
  • Consuming certain foods and beverages, like spicy or high-fat foods, milk, coffee, tea, and citrus juices

To avoid worsening morning sickness, try to limit caffeine and certain foods and beverages that trigger nausea. This can also be safer for the baby. It often takes longer for the body to metabolize caffeine during pregnancy, meaning the caffeine will likely stay in your bloodstream for a while after consumption. This is known as caffeine clearance, which describes the amount of time it takes caffeine to leave the bloodstream.

The placenta provides the baby with oxygen and food through the umbilical cord. So, when you drink coffee or another caffeinated beverage, the baby is on the receiving end. Try to limit your caffeine intake to 200 milligrams a day when pregnant. This includes black, green, and chamomile teas, coffee, caffeine supplements, energy drinks, cocoa beans, and chocolate.

Besides caffeine, some other foods to consume in moderation during pregnancy are salty foods, processed foods, and desserts. Remember that certain foods and beverages, like alcohol, uncooked fish, raw eggs, unpasteurized cheese, and deli meats, should be avoided altogether.

Infographic showing four coping strategies for dealing with fluctuating morning sickness symptoms.

Facing Morning Sickness in Early Pregnancy

Morning sickness is most common during the first trimester. It tends to reach its peak at about nine weeks, so finding the right nausea remedies is especially critical during early pregnancy. Below are some recommendations for navigating morning sickness during the first trimester.

1. Find the Right Foods

Finding the right morning sickness diet requires considerable trial and error. Every mom and stomach is different — what may be relieving to one could be nauseating to another. Experiment carefully with different foods to figure out what goes down the best.

There’s no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to the best pregnancy foods. However, many women find that lighter foods are easier on the stomach. They tend to prefer bland and carb-rich snacks like dry cereal, pretzels, crackers, and dry toast when nauseous. Others find that cold treats like popsicles, watermelon, yogurt, and ice cream help soothe the stomach.

Vitamin B6-rich foods are also known to reduce vomiting and nausea during pregnancy. If they agree with your stomach, consider adding foods like chicken, pork, turkey, bananas, and potatoes to your diet. Spicy and fatty foods are notorious for causing nausea, but if these foods work for you, go ahead and eat them. Remember to drink lots of water to stay hydrated as well.

2. Prioritize Rest

If you’re having a morning where the thought of getting out of bed only compounds the nausea, take the day to rest and relax. Give yourself a chance to recover, even if it means taking a sick day from work. Taking care of yourself during pregnancy and morning sickness should be a top priority.

For many expectant mothers, sleep is often the best way to escape the discomfort of morning sickness. Lay in bed with some cozy blankets and pillows, close your eyes, and try to get some rest. Your body works overtime during pregnancy, so getting plenty of sleep is essential.

3. Try Essential Oils

Fresh scents can be an effective natural remedy for morning sickness. Aromas like peppermint, lavender, ginger, and chamomile are known to relieve nausea, so you might consider these essential oils to help soothe the senses.

You can also carry a fresh rosemary sprig or a bottle of lemon extract in your bag to sniff when necessary. Find what scents work well with your morning sickness and which to avoid.

Dealing With Nausea in Late Stages of Pregnancy

While most women start feeling better during the second trimester, some experience morning sickness for longer periods — even throughout pregnancy. If you’re still dealing with nausea during late pregnancy — even if it’s milder — you still want to care for your body properly. Here are some tips for dealing with nausea in the second or third trimester:

  • Practice light exercise: A moderate-intensity workout causes the body to release endorphins. This may help combat morning sickness by decreasing fatigue and stress. Try low-impact activities like water exercise, stretching, or walking to stay healthy and active.
  • Eat healthy foods: Remember to continue healthy dieting throughout your pregnancy. Eat small meals at a time and try to avoid fatty, fried, and spicy foods that induce nausea — unless you can stomach them. Carry small packets of crackers or biscuits to munch on when morning sickness strikes.
  • Stay hydrated: Proper hydration is just as important in late pregnancy as it is during the first trimester. Continue drinking plenty of water each day. Small glasses of barley water or juice can also help combat dehydration.
  • Consult your doctor: If your morning sickness persists, your doctor may recommend B6 supplements, other over-the-counter options, or prescription anti-nausea medications. Speak with your doctor to determine which supplements are safe to take when pregnant.

Dealing With Nausea at Work

While there’s never a convenient time to deal with morning sickness, it can be especially tricky to manage while at work. Luckily, we have some handy tips to keep in mind when you start to feel that queasiness, whether it happens on the way to work or in the office.

How to Handle Morning Sickness on the Way to Work

First, here are some ways to cope with morning sickness during your commute to work:

  • Allow extra time: It may help to leave a few minutes early for work during your morning sickness period. This way, you have some extra time to pull over on the way to work if you feel a wave of nausea coming.
  • Store some bags in your car: In case you experience morning sickness while driving and don’t have time to pull over, it helps to keep some barf bags in your car. These bags should be in an easily accessible spot, like on the passenger seat or in the car door next to you.
  • Bring a travel mug or thermos of ice water: Drinking cold water prevents dehydration and can help settle the stomach. It also comes in handy if you need to rinse out your mouth or wash your face.
  • Roll down the windows: Keep the car windows down to breathe some fresh air. If it’s cold outside, try turning on the seat warmer or cranking up the heat while cracking the windows.

If you consistently feel nauseous and lightheaded to the point where driving becomes difficult or unsafe, you may need to consider alternative options — like carpooling or public transportation — for getting to and from work. However, some people experience less carsickness when driving. Use your best judgment to decide the best method of transportation during your pregnancy.

How to Deal With Morning Sickness During Work

Handling morning sickness at work is never ideal, but the right tips and supplies can make it easier to manage. Here are some suggestions for dealing with morning sickness on the job:

  • Keep water and snacks at your desk: To stay hydrated and help keep nausea at bay, it’s a good idea to have a bottle of water at your desk throughout the day. Additionally, consider stashing some light snacks to nibble on in case you feel queasy or shaky. An empty stomach and low blood sugar can worsen morning sickness, so have some options like granola bars, saltine crackers, fruit, and nuts. Determine which snacks are easiest on your stomach and stock up on these for work.
  • Have barf bags and a wastebasket: If you feel morning sickness approaching during work but don’t have time to get to the bathroom, accessible barf bags and a wastebasket at your desk can come in handy.
  • Avoid the kitchen during mealtimes: You may want to steer clear of the kitchen or breakroom during prime mealtimes. If your co-worker brings a dish like pasta or soup that doesn’t agree with your morning sickness, a small whiff of it alone may trigger your nausea. Try to avoid common eating areas during lunchtime if possible.
  • Walk around: Consider getting up and walking around during your break, especially outdoors. This movement and fresh air may help keep morning sickness at bay.
  • Bring morning sickness aids: Experiment with morning sickness aids like ginger ale, Preggie Pops, mint gum, ginger chews, and Tums. These can help reduce feelings of nausea. You might also bring a cool rag to place on your forehead. A soothing cool compress may help ease nausea.
  • Have a toothbrush handy: Remember to keep a toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash in your desk or bag. These will help you freshen up and get the unpleasant taste out of your mouth in case you do get sick at work.
  • Ask your co-workers for help: Finally, consider asking your co-workers for help if you’re comfortable doing so. If you experience morning sickness at work, they may be willing to cover for you while you step away from your desk or station.

We hope these tips and remedies help you find the best ways to cope with your morning sickness. Whether you’re in the early or late stage of your pregnancy, remember that this will eventually subside. Knowing there’s an end in sight can help you cope with morning sickness and keep a positive attitude.

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