When I first found out I was pregnant, I was excited and a little nervous (OK, a lot nervous) at the same time. My sister had severe bouts of morning sickness during her pregnancy and I wondered if I would go through the same thing. I got my answer 7 weeks in, when I was overcome with nausea, headaches, and a general feeling of miserableness night and day (whoever came up with the term “morning” sickness has clearly never had it).
If you’re one of the 75% of pregnant women who are dealing with morning sickness during pregnancy, you probably have the same questions I did: Will this ever end? Is there anything that will make me feel better? Will I ever actually enjoy being pregnant?
Yes, yes, and yes. Morning sickness comes and goes, is typically at its worst during the first trimester, and will hopefully only be a tiny part of your pregnancy. But at the time you’re going through it, it can be difficult to rationalize that it’s only temporary! The good news is, there are plenty of ways to get relief – and the better news is, they won’t cost you a fortune. Just remember, different solutions work for different women (for me, grazing on crackers all day helped immensely), so make sure you try a few things until you find something that works.
First, let’s look at what exactly causes morning sickness and then we’ll discuss ways to help.
What Is Morning Sickness?
A more accurate name for morning sickness is Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy (NVP) since morning sickness is not just isolated to the morning for approximately 80% of the women that have it. It typically occurs between the 6th and 12th weeks of pregnancy. However, it’s not uncommon for it to continue until the 16th week of pregnancy (and even longer for some unlucky women). The cause of morning sickness is unknown, but there are several theories, which include:
- Increased levels of estrogen
- Low blood sugar
- Increased human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)
- Increased progesterone levels
- Heightened sensitivity to smell which causes a gag-reflex
Although for most women, morning sickness does not cause harm to the mother or child, 1% of women develop what is known as hyperemesis gravidarum, a extreme form of morning sickness that causes dehydration and weight loss usually resulting in hospitalization. If you think this might be you, stop reading and call your health care provider immediately. (Interesting Fact: Women who suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum are more likely to have a girl than a boy.)
I know, when you’re pregnant, you’re less concerned with what’s causing morning sickness and more concerned with how to fix it. For that reason, I’ve compiled a list of more than 25 ways to relieve your symptoms and start feeling human again.
25 Cost-Effective Ways To Get Relief from Morning Sickness
Lemons are super inexpensive and have many great uses, like combining with baking soda to create a cheap cleaning solution. But lemons also have a natural calming effect that can reduce nausea, and can leave you feeling clean and refreshed. Since they’re natural, there’s no need to worry about harm being done to your body or your baby. If you are not keen on cutting open a fresh lemon and taking a bite, here are some other budget-friendly ways to reap the benefits.
1. Lemon Candy. This was my absolute favorite way to get relief from my morning sickness. I had candy hidden everywhere: in my bag, in my desk at work, and even in the car. When a friend of mine gets morning sickness, the first thing I recommend is lemon-flavored candy.
2. Lemon Candles. If candy isn’t your thing, try a lemon-scented candle. Since most of my pregnancy was spent in my office at work where I was not allowed to light candles, I used a candle warmer to melt the candle. It was very relaxing to breathe in that refreshing aroma.
3. Lemon Essential Oil. If you do not want the world to know that you are expecting (at least not yet), you may not want to surround yourself with lemon candies and candles without getting questions. To hide your reliance on lemons, put some lemon essential oil into a handkerchief and stick it in your pocket or purse. When you feel a bout of nausea coming on, take out the handkerchief and wipe your nose to breathe in the essential oil. Hopefully no one will ask to borrow your handkerchief!
4. Water with Lemon. If you have to go out to a restaurant, which you probably won’t want to do, order a water with lemon. Or squeeze a fresh lemon into your water every morning to start the day off (hopefully) nausea-free.
In the many pregnancy books out there, there’s a list of all the nutritional requirements that a pregnant woman needs each day. Two servings of this, 4 servings of that, which is a challenge when the only thing that sounds remotely appetizing is a bag of salt n’ vinegar chips with a side of Reeses Pieces (or was that just me?). In this case, forget the lists and try these tricks to keep morning sickness at bay, while still meeting most of your nutritional needs – and of course, saving money.
5. Eat Frequently. Even though you may not have an appetite for anything, make sure to always have something in your stomach. I found that when my stomach was empty, I would feel overwhelmingly sick, so I would make sure to eat a little something every 2 hours or so to avoid being famished. If you pack healthy snacks to take to work or while you’re on the go, you won’t be tempted by fast food drive-thrus, which aren’t great nutritionally, and they can put a dent in your wallet.
6. Keep Snacks Near Your Bed. If you feel sick or hungry in the middle of the night, the last thing you want to have to do is go downstairs to the kitchen to find something to eat. Keep a variety of snacks (granola bars were a favorite for me) near your bed in case you get the midnight munchies.
7. Eat Bland. Ever heard of the BRAT diet? Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These foods are bland and low in fiber and thus gentle on your digestive track. They’re also really inexpensive. You can also add tea and yogurt to the list to go on the BRATTY diet. I recommend saltine crackers as well. I used to eat those by the sleeve during my bouts with morning sickness.
8. Avoid Fatty Foods. Fatty foods take longer to digest and may be a little rough on your digestive track. You may also want to avoid anything fried, overly seasoned, or acidic.
9. Eat Something Before Getting Out of Bed. When you’re pregnant, it’s important to take care of yourself because you’re also being a good steward by caring for another human being. You can do this by putting yourself first. That means instead of taking the dogs out first thing in the morning or whatever you normally do, eat first. Enjoy a few weeks of breakfast in bed!
10. Don’t Cook. Yep, you are off kitchen duty for the next 6 weeks, as the smells can be an instantaneous nausea trigger. But even if you’re not cooking, you need to make sure that whoever is cooking turns on the exhaust fan or opens the windows. I remember a time when my husband made spaghetti for dinner, and it made me nauseous way on the other side of the house.
11. Peppermint. Like lemons, peppermint has a calming effect. I personally did not experience the same relief from peppermint as I did from lemons, but I know some women who did.
12. Listen to Your Cravings. If you have a craving, your body may be telling you something. If you are craving dairy, perhaps you need calcium. If you are craving peanut butter, perhaps you need protein or more calories.
13. Stay Hydrated. This is important all of the time, but it’s especially important while your body is busy developing a baby. If you are vomiting, make sure you’re drinking enough fluids to make up for the fluids that you are losing. Also, look for signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth and skin, lightheadedness, and muscle cramps.
14. Don’t Drink During Meals. I personally never tried this, but I had some coworkers who swore by it. Don’t drink anything 30 minutes prior to a meal and then wait another 30 minutes after your meal to drink again.
15. Ginger. Ginger tea or ginger ale (with real ginger) may soothe your nausea and calm your body. Ginger has been used to relieve nausea for centuries. Like lemons, this is a good, natural remedy.
Medications and Supplements
It wasn’t until my second trimester when my morning sickness was finally over that someone told me that there was actually medication that your doctor could prescribe for your morning sickness. Not only that, but it turns out vitamins can also play a huge part in how your digestive track reacts. While at first glance these strategies may not seem cost-effective, prescriptions drugs and medication and vitamins can be affordable if you have insurance, you can find inexpensive over-the-counter medications, or buy vitamins in bulk or on sale.
16. Prescription Medication. If you are in dire need of relief and are unable to function, talk to your doctor about a prescription for your nausea, especially if you have insurance to cover the majority of the costs. However, it may be best to try out non-drug remedies first so that the baby is not exposed to anything unnecessarily. Also, some medications, such as Zofran, may not be covered by insurance and can be costly, so consider the expenses before going the prescription medication route without insurance.
17. Over-the-Counter Medications. Luckily, there are some over-the-counter medications that may also help you with nausea. Emetrol is an over-the-counter nausea medication that is considered safe to take while pregnant, although it’s not specifically for morning sickness. You can also try Zantac, which may help nausea that is caused by acid reflux. Just make sure to check with your doctor first before taking any over-the-counter medication and consider the expenses.
18. Vitamin B6. Although the reasons are unknown, research has shown that vitamin B6 does help ease morning sickness in pregnant women. Although you do get some vitamin B6 from the foods you eat and your prenatal vitamin, check with your health care provider to determine if you should take a supplement.
19. Take Your Vitamins at the Right Time. Sometimes it’s not good to take vitamins on an empty stomach when you wake up in the morning. Start taking your vitamins in the evening with your dinner to see if that helps. Do not stop taking your vitamins though; they are important for you and your baby’s health. You can also speak to your doctor about switching to a different brand. He or she may also have advice on how to buy vitamins for cheap!
Other Morning Sickness Tips & Advice
20. Sleep. You may feel as though you have a lot to get done before your baby arrives, but don’t worry. You still have plenty of time. The most important thing you can do right now is rest. Sleep while you can because in the months to come, sleeping will become more difficult, both before and after the baby makes his or her grand appearance.
21. Get Out of Bed Slowly. Make sure to start setting your alarm a little earlier to ensure that you have ample time to get ready in the morning. You do not need to be rushing around, as it could make you lightheaded. During the first trimester that I was pregnant with my son, I would take my showers sitting down so that I would not feel faint.
22. Hypnosis. Our minds are very powerful. Imagine yourself without morning sickness. Try some self-suggestion if you do not want to actually go through hypnotherapy.
23. Acupressure Bands. Have you ever seen people wearing these on a cruise ship to help ease their motion sickness? The same ancient healing art of acupressure works for morning sickness. By applying pressure to a spot on your wrist, your nausea and vomiting can be controlled.
24. Avoid Smoking. This really goes without saying, but among all the other hazardous side effects of smoking, your appetite decreases. If your appetite decreases, then you may not be eating as often as you should which can lead to morning sickness. There are many financial benefits of quitting smoking as well.
25. Avoid Triggers. If there’s something in particular that makes you feel ill, such as the smell of coffee, make sure you do not go into the breakroom at work. If you get car sick, have someone help you out with your errands so that you don’t have to get in the car. Also try to avoid hot stuffy rooms as that seems to be a trigger for many women.
Remember, this too shall pass. When you find yourself overcome with morning sickness, don’t forget that it’s a very temporary condition. Try any and all of the above to relieve it, and focus on what’s important – meeting your bouncy, healthy bundle of joy in less than nine months.
How have you dealt with morning sickness? Please share any additional tips in the comments below!
(photo credit: Shutterstock)