What is Morning Sickness?
It is estimated that between 50 to 80 percent of women have nausea, sometimes with vomiting, during pregnancy. Although the nausea may be most noticeable in the morning, it lasts throughout the day for many women.
Even if there is no nausea, women may develop aversions to certain foods. Morning sickness generally improves by the 13th or 14th week of pregnancy, but some women continue to notice nausea into their second trimester.
A Canadian study surveyed pregnant women and found:
- Almost two thirds (61.2 percent) of women used natural remedies to alleviate morning sickness
- The three most common types of natural remedies used were ginger tea, acupressure wristbands (called "sea bands"), and vitamin B6
- Among the women who used natural remedies, 20.7 percent reported mild adverse reactions. Most common were an inability to tolerate the strong flavor of ginger and wrist irritation among women who used acupressure wrist bands.
Natural Remedies for Morning Sickness
Here are five natural remedies that are used for morning sickness.
The following diet suggestions may help relieve morning sickness:
- Eat frequent smaller meals, so that you are never too hungry or too full at one time
- Avoid fatty or fried foods
- Keep crackers, bread or toast, cereal, or other bland foods handy. Try eating a few crackers before getting out of bed in the morning.
- Identify any triggers and avoid them
- Make sure you are drinking enough fluids, especially if you have been vomiting. Try drinking in between meals rather than with meals, which some women find helpful.
One study looked at 88 pregnant women with hyperemesis, a severe form of morning sickness. Women received either an anti-nausea drug called metoclopramide or twice weekly acupuncture sessions for two weeks, plus acupressure. Both treatments were found to reduce nausea and vomiting intensity. Acupuncture was more effective than the drug in improving psychosocial functioning.
More about acupuncture.
3) Acupressure Wrist Bands
Acupressure wrist bands, often marketed as "sea bands", stimulate an acupuncture point called "pericardium 6" (p6), which is known in traditional Chinese medicine to relieve nausea. It is a wrist band with a plastic button that puts pressure on the p6 point inside of the wrist. They usually cost less than $10 for a pair and can be found online or in some health food stores. It usually begins to work immediately.
More about acupressure.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a common remedy for morning sickness. It has been used for centuries in cooking and medicinally. The Food and Drug Administration classifies ginger as "generally recognized as safe".
It's quite common for medical doctors, midwives, naturopaths, and other health practitioners to recommend ginger for morning sickness. Four double-blind, randomized clinical trials support this recommendation. The dose used in the studies was a total of one gram of ginger per day, taken in divided doses, for four days to three weeks. This is equivalent to half a teaspoon of ginger taken four times a day. It can be steeped with hot water for five minutes to make a hot ginger tea.
Some sources say there is not enough information about the safety of ginger in pregnant woment to recommend it for morning sickness, saying that ginger inhibits an enzyme called thromboxane synthetase and may possibly influence sex steroid differentiation in the fetal brain. Studies have not confirmed this.
Another concern is that ginger interferes with blood clotting and may prolong bleeding time. A study that followed 187 women who had taken ginger during the first trimester found no statistically significant difference in the number of malformations, spontaneous abortions, and stillbirths.
Read my article, Ginger for Nausea Relief.
5) Peppermint Essential Oil
The aroma of peppermint can help a queasy stomach. Fill a large bowl with hot water. Place two drops of peppermint essential oil in the bowl and place it on a table near your bed. Make sure it is in a safe area so there is no risk of it being knocked over. Or use an aromatherapy diffuser, which can be purchased at some health food stores.
- What is Aromatherapy?
- Tips on Using Essential Oils Safely
- Tips on Buying Essential Oils
- Peppermint Essential Oil
Bryer E. A literature review of the effectiveness of ginger in alleviating mild-to-moderate nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2005 Jan-Feb;50(1):e1-3.
Habek D, Barbir A, Habek JC, Janculiak D, Bobic-Vukovic M. Success of acupuncture and acupressure of the Pc 6 acupoint in the treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2004 Feb;11(1):20-3.
Hollyer T, Boon H, Georgousis A, Smith M, Einarson A. The use of CAM by women suffering from nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2002 May 17;2:5.
Knight B, Mudge C, Openshaw S, White A, Hart A. Effect of acupuncture on nausea of pregnancy: a randomized, controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Feb;97(2):184-8.
Neri I, Allais G, Schiapparelli P, Blasi I, Benedetto C, Facchinetti F. Acupuncture versus pharmacological approach to reduce Hyperemesis gravidarum discomfort. Minerva Ginecol. 2005 Aug;57(4):471-5.
Peirce, A. Practical Guide to Natural Medicines. William Morrow, New York, 1999.
Werntoft E, Dykes AK. Effect of acupressure on nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. A randomized, placebo-controlled, pilot study. J Reprod Med. 2001 Sep;46(9):835-9.