We hate to call it morning sickness because we know that term is almost offensive if you’re experiencing the all day every day type of symptoms that many women feel during pregnancy. Nausea and vomiting can hit at any time of day, and are one of the most common and most dreaded pregnancy symptoms, affecting around 80% of pregnant women.
While morning sickness typically only lasts through the first few months of pregnancy, it can be hard to hold out hope that better days are ahead. After all, it comes at a time when anxiety around pregnancy loss is high and you have little support to lean on since you are likely not sharing the news with many outside of a few close family or friends. We hear from lots of mamas that they’re just counting down the days until the end of the First Trimester, and we get it.
So since our aim is always to inform and empower, we’re covering the following:
- What causes nausea and vomiting in pregnancy?
- What are some remedies to help manage nausea and vomiting?
- What nutrients in a prenatal can help manage nausea and vomiting?
- How best to take your prenatal if you’re hit with queasiness.
What Causes Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy?
There are several theories as to what causes nausea and vomiting in pregnancy:
- Hormones - several hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and human gonadotropin hormone (HCG) rise dramatically in pregnancy. During the first trimester, the body is responsible for the production of these hormones as the placenta is being formed. Near the end of the first trimester, the placenta takes over production of hormones, and for many women, nausea and vomiting starts to subside. It is believed that the burden on the body of the rapidly increasing hormone load is to blame for nausea and vomiting.
- Vitamin deficiencies - while hormones almost certainly play a role in morning sickness, the intensity of the nausea and vomiting you experience may be influenced by your nutrient status before and during pregnancy. Nutrient deficiencies have been linked to more intense nausea and vomiting. While many vitamins can contribute, the most common deficiencies are Vitamin B6, B12, Magnesium, Zinc, and Vitamin D. This is part of the reason we recommend starting a high quality prenatal at least a few months before trying to conceive. We also recommend talking to your doctor or midwife about preconception blood work to understand your nutrient status and where you might need to fill specific gaps before becoming pregnant.
- Genetics - there seems to be a genetic component to morning sickness. If your mother or sister had bad nausea or vomiting in pregnancy, you stand a greater chance of also experiencing it. This started as an anecdotal observation which was then further studied, with findings suggesting that there are certain genes that are associated with nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Two contenders, genes known as GDF15 and IGFBP7, are produced in large quantities by the placenta in early pregnancy and have a receptor in an area of the brainstem linked to vomiting and reduced food intake. This could be passed down from mother to baby, supporting the genetic theory.
- Evolutionary protection - some believe that nausea and food aversions are nature’s way of preventing you from eating food that easily spoils or can harbor pathogens (things like meat and fresh produce) as a way to protect a fetus from a dangerous foodborne illness.
- Gut health - we know that gut health influences overall health in many ways, but a certain detrimental gut bacteria called H.pylori has been found in 90% of women diagnosed with the severe form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). We know gut health is so critical for mamas and babies in general which is why we developed our Pre/Probiotic. It supports a healthy microbiome and helps prevent dysbiosis like that seen with H. Pylori.
Tips for Managing Morning Sickness
While there are many remedies for pregnancy nausea, finding one that works for you can be a bit of an iterative process - testing and trying different things to find what works at different times. Think of these remedies as tools in your toolbox, and if one isn’t working, try another.
And before we get into it, we want to take a minute to address the severe form of morning sickness we mentioned earlier. It occurs in up to 3% of mamas and is known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). HG causes vomiting multiple times throughout the day. It can make holding even water down impossible, and it can make reading remedies like these maddening as they provide very little relief. HG can be dangerous for both you and baby if left unchecked. If this is you, we recommend you reach out to your provider for medication and/or fluids.
Now, onto the remedies:
- Hydration - Hydration is key to minimizing nausea, and it is also helpful to rehydrate if you do vomit. However, plain water doesn’t fully hydrate, and sometimes it’s impossible to get down when you’re feeling awful. This is why our Hydration Support is so helpful, and why we included it as part of the Nausea Support Plan. Aim to sip water throughout the day instead of consuming a large volume at one time.
- Blood sugar balance - keeping your blood sugar stable can help manage nausea. Try to eat several small meals throughout the day, and include a protein and/or fat at each one to keep blood sugar stable. Protein consumption is key to blood sugar balance and another tool to manage nausea. This is why we included Collagen Protein in our Nausea Support Plan. Our Collagen Protein is a great way to add protein to your meals and snacks - it’s flavorless and easily mixes with any liquid and many soft foods.
- Vitamin B6 - as we mentioned, Vitamin B6 deficiency has been linked to pregnancy nausea and supplementing with up to 100mg of Vitamin B6 is considered safe and effective in fighting pregnancy nausea. Our Prenatal Multi includes a very supportive 40mg of the well absorbed pyridoxal-5-phosphate for nausea support, but you can safely take up to 60mg more if you are still experiencing symptoms.
- Magnesium - Magnesium is another common deficiency and topical sprays and lotions or Epsom salt bath soaks can help nausea as Magnesium is well absorbed through the skin. We love Ancient Minerals spray and 8 Sheep Organics lotion. Our Prenatal Multi contains 200mg of gentle but effective Magnesium Bisglycinate. It can safely be taken alongside additional supplementation through the skin. Our Hydration Support has an additional 150mg of Magnesium.
- Acupressure - applying pressure to the P6 or Nei Guan point on the wrist is commonly used to help relieve nausea. Companies like Sea Band and Reliefband make bands that you can wear on your wrist to target these points.
- Acupuncture - like acupressure, acupuncture can be useful in fighting nausea. We recommend finding a licensed practitioner who has significant experience in working with pregnant women.
- Ginger - ginger has long been known as a cure for nausea of all causes. Try sucking on ginger lozenges or sipping on ginger tea. We love Tummydrops lozenges and Earth Mama Morning Wellness tea.
Know that these remedies may not work all the time or for everybody, so keep them all in mind and cycle through them as you need to find some relief. You might even keep a little kit in your purse or readily available at home - a bag or basket full of some ginger lozenges, water, Vitamin B6, topical Magnesium spray, acupressure bands, and some snacks like salted cashews, bland crackers, and bananas.
How Our Prenatal Can Help
We designed our prenatal with optimal health for mamas at the core of its purpose. This means we considered how to optimally nourish mamas to replenish and maintain optimal nutrient levels so that mamas start out pregnancy well-nourished and without unwanted deficiencies.
Of course we always recommend nutrient testing if it is available to you, but in general, the longer in advance you start your prenatal, the better chance you have at avoiding severe morning sickness due to vitamin deficiencies.
We included optimal but safe doses of key nutrients known to support nausea, like 40mg of Vitamin B6 (as well absorbed pyridoxal-5-phosphate) and 200mg of Magnesium (as gentle but effective Magnesium Bisglycinate) in our Prenatal Multi Powder and Capsules.
Prenatals have a reputation for being difficult to swallow (literally) when mamas are feeling sick and queasy. This is part of the reason we formulated ours into 3 different options -
Hang in there!
We know you’re longing to share your exciting news and to feel like yourself again so that you can enjoy the fun parts of pregnancy. So hang in there mama. Know that you’re doing your best to stay nourished by taking our Prenatal Multi. Give yourself grace and accept that you can’t do it all right now. It will get easier and it will be worth it!