Morning sickness doesn't have to be something you simply grin and bear—plenty of treatment options are available that can help you feel better. "Just because it's a common part of pregnancy, doesn't mean women have to suffer with it," says Marra Francis, M.D., an ob-gyn in Woodlands, Texas, and a contributing author to the Mommy MD Guides. "People do get relief, either by using natural remedies or traditional medications." (But tell your doc right away if you can't keep down any food or fluids for 24 hours, are steadily losing weight, or become dehydrated—thes could be signs of severe morning sickness.)
Many women find that a combo of methods—certain foods, natural remedies, or medication—can help them feel mostly nausea-free throughout the first trimester. Try these remedies and keep a “nausea kit” in your bag for emergency moments when queasiness strikes filled with plastic bags, wet wipes, napkins, water for rinsing your mouth, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and breath mints. And remember: This will all be over soon.
Ginger. This root is popular in Chinese medicine and noted for its tummy-taming properties. You can drink it in soda or tea, or try ginger-laced lollipops whenever you're feeling queasy.
Something Sour. If your stomach is already feeling sour, should you really add in additional sourness? Strangely, it works. "Using something sour can help," says Michele Hakakha, M.D., FACOG, an ob-gyn in Beverly Hills and author of Expecting 411. "Try sucking on sour candy, sipping lemon water, or even just sniffing something sour. I had one patient who carried around a lemon and scratched the peel and smelled it to make her feel better."
Mint. Eating or sniffing something containing this fresh flavor can help you feel less nauseated. (Bonus: Mint can help with a not-so-fresh mouth after a round of morning sickness.)
Saltines or Toast. Simple starches like crackers can help settle a queasy stomach.
Smoothies. In lieu of eating solid food when your stomach is flip-flopping, sip a smoothie. Doing so will neutralize your stomach acids and blood sugar, giving you a calm feeling.
Trail Mix. A mix of fruits, nuts, and a hint of semi-sweet chocolate chips will satisfy your hunger without weighing you down.
Liquids. If you're vomiting often, increase your fluid intake to ten 8-ounce cups a day; that's two more than the recommended eight cups a day. Alternate watermelon ice cubes and freezer pops with glasses of water and ice chips if you're having trouble drinking enough water. Italian ice or lemon slush will also help you hydrate. Try to drink fluids only between meals; if you must drink during meals, limit the amount to keep your stomach from feeling overly full. You can also use a sports drink to replace lost electrolytes.
Acupressure or acupuncture. These techniques, which use gentle pressure or tiny needles to hit certain nerve centers in the body, can be extremely effective in treating nausea. You can wear sea bands, stretchy bracelets that put pressure on a nerve in the center of your wrist, or see an Eastern medicine specialist to receive acupuncture treatments. Test out this easy acupressure technique too: Press three fingertips gently but firmly on the base of your palm, just above where you'd take your pulse on your wrist. Breathe deeply and press that area with your fingertips for a minute or more, gradually increasing the pressure until you feel slight discomfort. The sensation should be the same as the feel of a mini-massage.
Exercise. You probably don't exactly feel like running a half-marathon with your tummy so queasy. But a gentle walk could do wonders for your body. "Even walking 20 minutes a day can help release endorphins to counteract the fatigue and nausea," Dr. Hakakha says.
Changed eating patterns. Sometimes it's a matter of simply keeping your stomach from hitting empty. "Eat small, frequent meals, and eat as soon as you wake up," Dr. Hakakha recommends. Stick to healthy eating as much as possible, and to blander fare such as saltine crackers to avoid setting off your nausea.
Peppermint or Lemon Hand Lotion. The soothing scents may help keep you calm and relaxed. A bonus: sniffing them may help disguise other unpleasant food odors that trigger tummy pain.
Facial Wipes. A quick swipe provides an instant feel-better boost.
Medications are a doctor's second line of defense against more severe cases of morning sickness. But with so many things, such as wine and many common meds, declared off-limits during pregnancy, many moms-to-be worry that morning sickness meds may harm your baby. But the doctors say to rest easy. "I always remind my patients that we would never give anything that isn't safe, and that doesn't have a long safety record," Dr. Hakakha says. Just be sure to ask questions and consult your doc before taking any of these.
OTC medications. Benadryl and Unisom are more commonly used to treat allergies or insomnia, but they can actually help with nausea, especially if your morning sickness starts the moment you wake up in the morning.
Acid reflux meds. Frequent vomiting can damage your esophagus and throat with potent stomach acids, leading to heartburn and a continuous sour stomach. Using acid reflux medications can lower the acidity of your stomach, reducing the damage caused when you do vomit, and helping to prevent that sour stomach in the first place.
Motion sickness patches. Medications that can help with motion sickness, such as scopolamine, can actually help with nausea related to morning sickness.
Prescription medications. If you're having pretty severe morning sickness—nonstop nausea and difficulty keeping down food and liquids—your doctor can prescribe some more serious medications, such as Zofran or Vistaril, which can be taken as a pill or dissolved on your tongue, to help you stave off some of the nausea and get the nutrients you and your baby need for a healthy pregnancy.