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How do I cope with morning sickness?
Q: I’m nine weeks pregnant, and I feel sick to my stomach and exhausted every day. I’m assuming I have morning sickness. Do you have any suggestions to help me cope?

A: The queasiness and fatigue you describe are all too common in the first trimester of pregnancy, and do sound like morning sickness. The hormones essential to support your developing pregnancy are the same ones that contribute to nausea, sleepiness after meals and low blood sugar. Up to 80 percent of pregnant women have nausea during the first trimester, and many learn that this symptom may not be restricted to mornings. While there are several suggestions for minimizing morning sickness, each woman (and each pregnancy) is unique.

Hopefully, some of these recommendations will be helpful for you:
  • Eat multiple small meals throughout the day rather than three big ones. This helps you avoid low blood sugar.
  • Avoid fried, greasy and highly spiced foods.
  • Choose foods that are “nutrient dense,” meaning packed with nutrition. Easily digested foods include yogurt, smoothies and complex carbohydrate foods such as whole grain breads, cereals, pastas and crackers.
  • Avoid situations that trigger your nausea such as excessive motion, strong scents (including perfume or aftershave) and loud noises.
  • Try acupressure. There is an acupressure point close to your wrist that can decrease nausea.
  • Wristbands designed to prevent seasickness put pressure on this nausea-sensitive pressure point, and can be purchased in a pharmacy or marine store. For prolonged nausea, you may find acupuncture helpful.
  • Ginger capsules (250 milligrams every six hours) may alleviate your symptoms. Alternatively, try ginger tea (boil ginger slices in water), pickled ginger or ginger snaps.
  • Vitamin B6 (25 milligrams twice a day) can sometimes help.
  • Eat something before you go to bed or before you get out of bed in the morning. A late-night snack may help you avoid waking up hungry and may lessen your chances for morning sickness.
  • Alternatively, sucking on a hard candy or a bit of honey before your arise may help.
  • Some women are helped by hypnosis.

The good news about morning sickness is that it’s usually time limited, and most women feel noticeably better by 12 weeks. It’s also comforting that morning sickness is not thought to be harmful to your baby. In fact, some studies suggest that women with morning sickness are more likely to have a healthy pregnancy!

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe form of morning sickness, affecting less than 1 percent of all pregnancies. With this condition, it becomes hard to hold down any food or drink throughout the day, leading to dehydration, weight loss and chemical imbalances. If you’re having severe problems with nausea and vomiting, consult your health care provider. Medical attention may be necessary. You may require intravenous rehydration, prescription medications, and you may have to be hospitalized.
Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist