Morning Sickness: Causes and Coping

Quelling the Queasies

You can't predict whether or not you'll get morning sickness, nor can you cure it. But there are ways to ease your symptoms. Your first line of defense should be to tweak your diet. As a general rule, large, heavy, greasy, or spicy meals may exacerbate your symptoms, so try five to six small, light meals throughout the day, such as a bowl of cereal or yogurt and a banana. Eating mini meals also keeps you from getting too hungry, which makes the nausea worse. Though your instincts may tell you not to eat, nibbling on a few plain crackers can actually soothe nausea.

Staying well hydrated is also key. "Carry a bottle of water with you everywhere, and sip from it constantly," says Jon Matsunaga, MD, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California. Keeping a steady supply of food and water in your stomach will help prevent a buildup of stomach acids, which can also make nausea worse.

As you may have already guessed, figuring out what you can tolerate is the tough part. While every woman's experience will be different, your best bet is to start by eating bland foods like crackers and toast. These and other simple carbohydrates are easiest to digest.

But if adjusting your diet doesn't help, you may want to take a look at your prenatal vitamin or any iron supplements you may be taking. For some women, iron is rough on an already-seasick stomach. Talk to your doctor about skipping supplements until you feel better. "It's more important to eat and drink than it is to take vitamins during pregnancy," says Dr. Matsunaga.

You can also try other remedies with your doctor's approval. "Unisom, the over-the-counter sleep aid, contains an antinausea ingredient and is safe and effective," says Dr. Matsunaga. Some pregnant women also find that ginger -- in the form of lollipops or tea -- works well on nausea. "But it's wise to be wary of taking anything, from herbal teas to pills, without consulting your physician first," says Dr. Ashton.

Even if most remedies fail, don't worry too much if you're unable to eat a completely balanced diet when you're suffering from morning sickness. In fact, says Dr. Ashton, "Taking in less during early pregnancy is just fine, and it won't compromise the growth of the placenta and the fetus. Your baby will get what she needs from the nutrients you take in." In the meantime, do the best you can. Believe it or not, soon morning sickness will be only a memory.

Denise Schipani lives in Queens, New York, and is the new mother of a baby boy.

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.

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