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Tips for coping with morning sickness

Your baby's due date is still months away. But by now, something else is likely already on the scene: morning sickness—an all-too-common pregnancy discomfort a lot of women understandably dread. 

Here, you'll find tips to help you understand what normal pregnancy-related nausea feels like. You'll also find suggestions for lessening the nausea with fairly simple changes in your daily routine. 

Morning sickness defined

Simply put, morning sickness is nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Despite the name, it can happen at any time of the day. The culprit? Doctors think morning sickness may be due to pregnancy-related hormonal changes or low blood sugar.

It's also quite common. Some 70% of moms-to-be experience morning sickness during the first trimester. Thankfully, the nausea usually goes away on its own early in the second trimester. 

Normal (and not-so-normal) nausea

If you have morning sickness, you'll probably have an upset stomach for a little while, perhaps even every day. And you may also throw up a time or two as well. 

If you find yourself throwing up a lot (such as more than three times a day), you should see your provider. It could be a more severe form of morning sickness that your provider needs to treat. While it isn't common, some women develop extreme morning sickness, called hyperemesis gravidarum, which can lead to unhealthy weight loss and dehydration. 

If that were to happen, you might need to go to a hospital for IV treatments to keep you and your baby safe. But again, this isn't common. Still, do play it safe: In addition to seeing your provider if you throw up several times a day, you should contact him or her right away if you:

  • Have morning sickness that lasts beyond the first trimester (13 weeks).
  • Can't keep anything down or vomit blood. 
  • Lose more than 2 pounds.
  • Have an elevated heart rate. 
  • Feel tired, confused or like you have the flu.

It isn't easy being queasy—what helps? 

Remember, morning sickness is usually mild, short-lived and harmless to you and your baby. But it can feel crummy. Until the nausea passes, these ideas may help you feel better: 

  • Try nibbling crackers or dry cereal before getting out of bed. An empty stomach can cause nausea. 
  • Drink plenty of fluids—water is best. Or suck on soothing ice chips.
  • Steer clear of bothersome smells. Every tummy is unique—avoid what troubles yours.
  • Try eating several small daily meals instead of three large ones. Include "bland" meals and snacks, like rice, cereal, applesauce and bananas. They're low-fat, which is easier on your stomach.

If all else fails, consider medicine

If you're really having a hard time with morning sickness, ask your provider about medicines that may help. He or she may first suggest over-the-counter vitamin remedies, like B6 or a drug called doxylamine, taken either alone or together. 

If that doesn't work, another option could be a prescription antiemetic drug. Not all antiemetics are safe for pregnant women, so you'll definitely want to discuss this with your provider.

More pregnancy news

For even more helpful advice, check out how to have a healthy pregnancy.

Sources: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; March of Dimes 

Reviewed 12/19/2023

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