Congratulations on your pregnancy! I’m really happy for you. What? You’d be happy for you too if you weren’t so Damn Nauseated?
It’s really important to take that morning sickness seriously. It’s not just a nuisance but a health problem that interferes with your daily activities and your ability to nourish yourself and your baby. If you are unable to tolerate any food or drink, if you’ve lost weight, or if you are not peeing clear at least once a day, you should see your doc immediately. If you are just miserable but managing to get food down your gullet, this post is for you.
Luckily, there are a lot of non-medicinal strategies to help you cope with your morning, evening, all-day sickness. They range from things you can eat, to things you can take, to devices you can wear and they don’t require a prescription.
It is a paradox of morning sickness that if you are constantly eating, you feel better. Hence the saltines. A good alternative is anything you like that is small, dry, salty, and not greasy such as rice crackers, chex mix, pretzels, and so on.
Ginger is a natural stomach-soother and ginger-flavored things can be very helpful. Flat ginger ale, on ice is good. Or iced ginger tea. Ginger snaps, ginger Altoids and Reeds Ginger candy are also effective. You can even grate fresh ginger into some hot water to make a mild tea or sprinkle ginger on your cinnamon toast.
Mmmm…cinnamon toast….Fine. Go have some. I’ll wait. You’re pregnant after all and that’s probably the first thing that’s sounded good to you in a long time. Cinnamon is another natural nausea reliever. Like ginger, cinnamon can be found in cookies, mints, gum and tea. Some recovery rooms actually serve cinnamon toast to patients recovering from anesthesia for its soothing effects and the fact that it’s unlikely to upset the stomach. Not to mention that it makes that part of the hospital smell wonderful and that’s not something you can say about most parts of the hospital.
Good sharp smells can mitigate sudden nausea as well. Some ladies in the family way keep a lemon slice in a ziploc bag on their person. If they are exposed to a bad smell (and let’s face it, at this stage they’re all bad smells and you can smell all of them) a quick sniff of the lemon can counteract it.
Peppermint tea is one of the few herbal teas that are totally safe in pregnancy. You can’t say the same for chamomile, or red raspberry leaf. Even ginger tea should be drunk only sparingly because it can thin the blood. Peppermint tea, on the other hand, is a lovely way to end the day, settle the stomach after dinner, and set you up for a good night’s sleep. I liked it so much that even now I continue to drink a cup before bed nearly every night.
Another tried and true over the counter remedy is vitamin B6. It comes in 25 mg doses in the drug store and you can take up to 4 pills a day. If your nausea is mostly at night, you can add an over-the-counter sleeping aid called Unisom. The combination can be almost magical, it’s so effective. This drug combo was used for years under the name Bendectin until a flawed study in the 80’s caused it to be taken off the market. More than 30 good studies before and after this fiasco have shown absolutely no increased risk of birth defects of any sort. Just don’t take it while driving.
For all day, every day relief, Seabands are cheap and easy to wear. They look like little grey 70’s tennis wrist bands and have a button on them that presses onto an acupressure spot inside the wrist. This works for long-lasting low-grade nausea that’s just annoying. You can buy them in the travel section of most drug stores.
For more severe nausea that’s limited to less than 4-6 hours a day, Relief Band (www.reletex.com) is a device that works on the same principle as the Seabands. It looks like a plastic wrist watch that you wear on the inside of your wrist. It fires electronic impulses into that acupressure point and quells your queasiness. A version for pregnant women is now being marketed called PrimaBella band (primabellarx.com). Your insurance may even cover the cost.
And if none of these work, your doctor still has some meds you can try.