12 Practical Tips for Combating Pregnancy Nausea

12 Practical Tips for Combating Pregnancy Nausea

Pregnancy nausea, is there anything worse?

With my first pregnancy, I was nauseous all day, every day, for the first 24 weeks. The first 16 weeks were the worst because I dealt with severe food aversions on top of nausea. I have been nauseous 24/7 with my second pregnancy, and I am currently 34 weeks. The mental and physical toll of pregnancy nausea is massive and debilitating. Adding to the challenge is that most women experience the worst symptoms in the first trimester, at a time when most people don’t know you are pregnant. This adds extra stress to appear ‘normal’ and keep up with your daily work, responsibilities etc even when you feel like you have the never-ending flu!

An estimated 70 percent of women experience nausea during pregnancy, especially during early pregnancy. The term morning sickness is frustratingly inaccurate as many women experience all-day nausea or their worst nausea in the evenings. Nausea can be triggered by a wide variety of factors, including smells, noise, heat, motion, stress, lack of sleep, certain food or for no reason at all! If your pregnancy nausea impacts your quality of life or ability to consume appropriate nutrition (especially hydration), don’t hesitate to speak to your family physician about it. There are several prescription medications available that may help safely combat pregnancy nausea. There are also over-the-counter options such as Gravol available, be sure to check with your doctor before starting one of these! Over my two pregnancies, I tried countless strategies to combat the pregnancy nausea, some more effective than others. These are the tips that I found most helpful and helped to make nausea more survivable!

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Snack Often

This was the single most effective way to combat my pregnancy nausea, especially during the first trimester. If your nausea is particularly bad first thing in the morning, try eating a few soda crackers or a dry piece of toast before you get out of bed; maybe even before you sit up! Having a light bedtime snack can help to stabilize blood sugar throughout the night. Focus on grazing throughout the day rather than eating three larger meals. This will prevent you from getting too full or having an empty stomach, both of which can worsen nausea.

Choose Bland Foods

Bland foods, such as bananas, rice, applesauce and toast, may be easier to digest. Salty, carb-rich foods are generally well tolerated by pregnant women, so try snacking on crackers, dry cereal and pretzels.

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Try Wearing Motion Sickness Bands

Anti-nausea wrist bands, typically used to prevent motion sickness, can help to relieve nausea. Acupuncture may also help to manage pregnancy symptoms.

Sniff a Fresh Scent

Estrogen levels are elevated during pregnancy, and estrogen is the hormone responsible for the sense of smell, which is why many pregnant women report an increased sense of smell. Unpleasant odours like spoiled food, garbage and too-strong perfume can trigger nausea. Sniffing a fresh scent, like lemon extract or rosemary, can help to manage symptoms.

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Go For Something Sour

Sucking on sour candies, eating tart green apples, or sipping on lemon water can help manage nausea.

Distract Yourself

Another one of the tips I found most effective. Even though it can be incredibly tempting when you are feeling terrible to curl up on the couch in misery, getting moving and distracting yourself can be very helpful. Going for a walk or making plans with friends can take your mind off how awful you feel. Exercise can even help some pregnant women to relieve their nausea, but it’s okay if you aren’t feeling up to being active.

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Avoid Acidic, Spicy and Fatty/Greasy Foods

Fatty and spicy foods can worsen nausea and upset iffy stomachs. However, if you find that higher-fat foods like chips or fries work well for you, go ahead and eat them!

Eat More Cold Foods

Hot foods are more likely to have an aroma and trigger nausea. Cold foods are generally better tolerated. Cold fruit like watermelon and popsicles were my go-tos!

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Be Mindful of When You Take Your Prenatal

Although prenatal vitamins are essential, they can worsen nausea, especially if taken on an empty stomach. If you feel queasy after taking your prenatal, make sure you take it with food or right before bed.

Pay Attention to Nausea Triggers

Avoid foods or smells that make your nausea worse. It got to the point where even watching certain tv shows would make me feel nauseous because I had developed an association.

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Try Ginger Products

Ginger candies, ginger teas, or flat ginger ale can help to combat nausea and settle your stomach. Try adding a thin slice of ginger to hot water or a knob of ginger to your morning smoothie.

Get Enough Protein

This can be very challenging, as pregnant women often struggle with food aversions in the first trimester, especially meat products. However, there is some evidence to suggest that women who consume a high protein diet experience reduced levels of pregnancy-related nausea. Eating enough protein can also help to stabilize blood sugars, and a drop in blood sugar (especially in the morning) can worsen nausea. Furthermore, protein requirements are elevated during pregnancy.

Most importantly, remember to give yourself some grace. Pregnancy can be tough, and struggling with pregnancy nausea is awful. Don’t put extra stress on yourself by worrying if your diet is less-than-ideal as a result. It can be challenging enough just to maintain basic nutrition and hydration; try not to worry if you find yourself unable to tolerate healthy foods. And remember, it is only temporary, and rest assured, the baby will still be able to take what it needs from you!

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Kelsey Russell-MurrayI have been working as a Registered Dietitian for 8 years now, the majority of which has been spent working as a clinical inpatient RD in a hospital. I specialize primarily in critical care and stroke nutrition. In 2020 I opened my virtual private practice, Gut Healthy Dietitian, where I specialize primarily in gut and digestive-health related diseases and conditions. I have an Honours Bachelor of Science in Nutrition as well as a Graduate Diploma of Integrated Dietetic Internship.
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