Surviving Morning Sickness

Suffering from morning sickness? Midlothian OB/GYN Dr. Elisabeth McGaw walks expectant moms through the options.

How to Survive Morning Sickness

For many women, the joy of pregnancy is soon eclipsed by the misery of morning sickness. They’re constantly nauseous. Nothing tastes good. Aromas of cooking chicken or bacon or even a certain soap, have you running to the bathroom with your hand over your mouth.

The good news is that morning sickness typically gets better after the 12th or 13th week of pregnancy. But if you’re feeling terrible, don’t assume you just have to put up with it! “There’s no reason to suffer,” says Dr. Elisabeth A. McGaw, an OB/GYN in the Midlothian office of Virginia Women’s Center. Morning sickness remedies are available that can offer some relief.

Here’s what you need to know about surviving morning sickness.

How can I reduce the symptoms of morning sickness?

Unfortunately, there is not one simple remedy that works for everyone. The first thing Dr. McGaw recommends is making some changes to your diet:

  • Eat small, frequent meals.
  • Try to eat high-protein foods, if your stomach allows it.
  • Otherwise, eat bland foods like crackers, pretzels, bananas, rice, applesauce or toast — just as if you were recovering from a gastrointestinal virus.
  • Try products containing ginger, such as ginger candies and teas, which can soothe the stomach.
  • To stay hydrated, try drinks that are cold, clear, carbonated or sour, such as ginger ale and lemonade. Whole-fruit popsicles work, too.
  • Are there effective morning sickness medications that are safe for baby?

For first-line treatment of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends a prescription medication called Diclegis. Rated Pregnancy Category A, the highest safety rating possible, it’s a delayed-release medication that functions to prevent nausea. That means Diclegis doesn’t provide instant relief, but can reduce symptoms of nausea and vomiting the next day if taken at bedtime. Check with your insurance carrier to determine the cost of Diclegis.

An over-the-counter alternative is taking vitamin B6 in conjunction with Unisom, an antihistamine sleep aid. (These two medications are the same medications found in Diclegis.) This remedy is often taken at night because it causes drowsiness. Your provider can give you details on dosages.

If morning sickness symptoms don’t get any better, a patient may be prescribed a medication like Zofran (ondansetron), which relieves nausea within 30 minutes. Zofran and similar medications are considered Category B; that means no studies have shown they cause birth defects, Dr. McGaw explains, but the studies evaluating their safety in pregnancy are limited.

If acid reflux is contributing to morning sickness, over-the-counter medications such as Zantac or Tums can be added for further relief.

When should I be concerned about morning sickness symptoms?

The main question to ask yourself, Dr. McGaw says, is “How is this affecting my quality of life?” Can you still go to work and do everything you need to do? Or is the nausea really hampering your ability to function?

Severe morning sickness may be hyperemesis gravidarum, a serious pregnancy condition with symptoms that include excessive, persistent nausea and vomiting; weight loss; dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. You may remember from the media, this condition struck Kate Middleton especially hard during her first pregnancy.

Some women can still feel very sick and still not have hyperemesis. “If they’re ever unsure, they should always come to the office and let the doctor examine them,” Dr. McGaw says. The doctors at Virginia Women’s Center can do lab work to further evaluate them.