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Aches and Pains: The Morning Sickness Survival Guide

If your nausea is of the more common variety, there are simple things you can do to feel better. Health and fitness instructor Denise Austin suggests using ginger to soothe nausea in her book, Denise Austin's Ultimate Pregnancy Book: How to Stay Fit and Healthy Through the Nine Months -- and Shape Up After Baby (Fireside). "I discovered ginger actually helped, and ate ginger snaps and put ginger root into my fruit smoothies. Ginger tea is also soothing to the stomach." Sipping ginger ale may also help settle your stomach. Denise offers up another healthy tip: To calm a queasy tummy, try a simple fruit dish of chopped crystallized ginger mixed with a teaspoon each of honey and lime juice, mixed with watermelon balls. Denise says that it's very refreshing, and recommends storing the mixture in an airtight container and snacking on it during the day.

If you find you can't stomach ginger, try these physician-recommended and mom-tested tips to soothe your nausea.

1. Ease into the morning gently. Nibble on a soda cracker or dry toast before you get out of bed. Take your time getting up. Avoid sudden movements.

2. Don't drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. Drinking and smoking can aggravate your condition. If you smoke or drink, now is the time to stop.

3. Don't fill up, but don't go hungry. Having your stomach completely empty or too full will aggravate nausea. Eat small meals frequently. Eat plain, dry, and starchy food. Carry small packs of crackers or other "safe snacks" so you're not caught unprepared if you start to feel hungry, and so you don't indulge in something you might later regret.

4. Stay hydrated. Fluids can make you feel full, but it's important to stay hydrated during this time. Don't drink fluids with meals, as that will make you feel fuller. Instead, drink moderate quantities of light beverages such as water, sparkling water, diluted juice, or herbal tea between meals.

5. Take your prenatal vitamin. You'll need to ensure that you're replacing the nutrients you may be losing from vomiting. If the vitamin makes you feel sick, try eating a cracker when you take it.

6. Avoid strong sensory stimulation. Heavy smells, spicy food, and lots of movement can make you feel worse or bring on feelings of nausea. Keep your windows open if possible when cooking, or use an exhaust fan to minimize odors. Enlist the help of a family member for tasks like chopping onions or handling meat if it makes you queasy. Lay off fried foods. Grease and the smell of frying food can also trigger nausea.

7. Get enough rest. Fatigue can actually make your nausea worse. Try to get a little extra sleep each day.

8. Keep a food diary. Track the foods that make you queasy and those that seem to agree with you. You can check your notes and plan menus accordingly.

9. Don't run for the antacid. You may be immediately tempted to reach for an antacid, but don't do it without consulting your doctor. Some antacids can cause fluid to build up in your system. Ask your doctor if she recommends you take over-the-counter antacids, or if she has another treatment to offer you.

10. Try mint. Peppermint refreshes and has a soothing effect on the stomach. Try chewing peppermint gum or drinking peppermint tea.

11. Sniff lemon or lime. Citrus scents can also help you cope with nausea.

12. Experiment with acupressure. Some people who suffer from motion sickness wear acupressure or motion sickness bands to combat nausea. Some pregnant women who've tried them have had some success. These bracelets exert a steady pressure on the inside of the wrist that seems to relieve feelings of nausea. Research done on one brand of motion sickness bands called Sea-Bands indicates that as many as 70 percent of women experience some degree of nausea relief.

13. Try to reduce your stress levels. Stress can trigger or exacerbate nausea. If you're stressed, take deep breaths and try to relax. Talk to a friend or take a walk. Take some time to plan your schedule and say no to things you can't realistically fit in. Remember to keep things in perspective. Don't sweat the small stuff. If you do have serious stressors in your life, seek professional help. Don't try to keep it all inside or deal with it alone.

14. Call your doctor, if needed. If morning sickness becomes so bad that you can't eat or take in fluids at all, contact your physician. If necessary, your doctor can prescribe Zofran or Reglan as a last resort to help control severe nausea.

Sources: Mayo Clinic HealthOasis; American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology; March of Dimes: 888-MODIMES, www.modimes.org, www.nacersano.org

Reviewed 12/00 by Jane Forester, MD

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.