14 Best Ways to Counteract Morning Sickness

For many moms-to-be, morning sickness should really be called “morning-noon-and-night sickness.” Some women experience symptoms worse in the morning but find that they ease up as the day goes on. For others, symptoms last all day long, even into the evening. Not only can certain smells or tastes make them gag, but nausea and vomiting leave them exhausted and miserable. As we tell our pregnant patients at Westchester Health Pediatrics, having a baby is wonderful but morning sickness can be pretty awful!

Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP

Here’s how to prevent, or at least minimize, the symptoms of morning sickness

To help make your pregnancy more pleasant and less nauseating, we offer these tried-and-true tips and suggestions:

  1. Eat small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day so your stomach is never empty.

    An empty stomach can make nausea worse so eat several small meals through the day instead of three large meals. High-protein foods and complex carbohydrates might be especially helpful.

  2. Eat slowly.

This helps digestion and cuts down on gas buildup.

  1. Keep simple snacks, such as crackers, by your bed.

    When you first wake up, snack on a few crackers and then rest for 20-30 minutes before getting up. When you do get up, do it slowly. Eating crackers may also help you feel better if you wake up nauseated in the middle of the night.

  2. Avoid lying down after eating (especially on your left side).

    This can slow digestion. Stay upright for 1 hour after meals.

  3. Stay hydrated.

    Drink a lot of fluids, such as a sports hydration drink, as well as water, broth, juice or ginger ale.

  4. Eat more protein and cut out fatty foods.

    Avoid barbecue ribs, fried chicken, cheesy pizza and burgers with fries which makes your morning sickness worse (and your baby doesn’t need the grease).

  5. Avoid smells and foods that make you feel nauseated.

    Pay attention to the smells and foods that trigger your morning sickness and avoid them. Typically, acidic liquids such as orange and grapefruit juice, milk, coffee and caffeinated tea make nausea worse, as well as greasy or heavily-sauced dishes.

  6. Get lots of rest.

    Stress and fatigue can make morning sickness worse so try to get as much rest as you can, even it’s just a short nap or taking a few minutes to put your feet up.

  7. Get fresh air regularly.

    Taking a walk or even just opening a window might ease your nausea.

  8. Try aromatherapy.

    Some women find scents such as lavender, lemon, mint or orange useful in combatting morning sickness. Put a drop or two of an essential oil on a handkerchief or Kleenex to sniff when you start to feel queasy.

  9. Raise your upper body in bed by putting a pillow under the mattress.

For many women, this helps digestion and cuts down on gas and nausea.

  1. Avoid late night meals.

Food sitting in your stomach all night will make things worse in the morning.

  1. Give up alcohol and smoking.

As well as being harmful to you, cigarettes and alcohol put the health of your developing baby at risk.

  1. Consider anti-nausea medication.

    If you’ve been unable to find relief from your nausea no matter what you’ve tried, talk with your doctor about prescription medication that could help. There’s no need to suffer, and waiting too long to take appropriate medication may make your condition more difficult to treat.

What causes morning sickness

Morning sickness (mainly nausea) plagues up to 85% of pregnant women. Mainly occurring during the early stages of pregnancy, it usually begins around the 4th week and continues until around 12 weeks when the queasiness eases up.

As its name implies, morning sickness often strikes first thing in the morning but it’s not unusual for sufferers to experience it at any time of the day or night. Although it’s not really known what causes this type of nausea during pregnancy, it’s most likely a combination of:

  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that rises rapidly during the early stages of pregnancy
  • Estrogen, a female hormone which also rises rapidly in early pregnancy
  • An enhanced sense of smell and sensitivity to odors (possibly resulting from higher levels of estrogen)
  • A sensitive stomach
  • Stress, worry

Important warning

NOTE: If you have severe, persistent nausea and vomiting and are unable to take in fluids (which puts you at risk of dehydration), see your doctor right away, as this may be a condition called “hyperemesis gravidarum” (H.G.). H.G. is characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss and an imbalance of electrolytes. Mild cases are treated with dietary changes, rest and antacids, but more severe cases often require an inpatient stay in the hospital so that you can receive intravenous (IV) fluids and nutrition.

Expecting a baby? Relax, we got you. Here’s what you need to know:

At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we’ve helped lots and lots of expecting couples have safe pregnancies and deliver healthy babies, and we’re ready to help you with yours. For helpful tips and advice on everything from exercise guidelines to proper nutrition, please refer to the Expecting a Baby page on our website.

Some articles that you might find of interest:

Having a hard time with morning sickness? Come see us.

If you’re experiencing morning sickness and want some relief, please come in and see one of our Westchester Health Pediatrics pediatricians or a Westchester Health OB/GYN. The sooner we can evaluate and start treating your symptoms, the sooner you can start feeling better and enjoying your pregnancy. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

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By Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, Lead Pediatric Physician with Westchester Health Pediatrics, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners