1. Avoid nausea triggers. The most common offenders include body odors, stale or leftover food in the fridge, coffee, gasoline, solvent fumes, garbage, scented cosmetics and toiletries, and pungent aromas of cooking foods.
2. Make “designer” days. Compare your good and bad days. As much as humanly possible, design your day to avoid the known triggers. If wet dog smells or litter box stench gets to you, let someone else get them out of your way. Warning! During pregnancy, avoid cat feces because they may contain toxoplasmosis bacteria, which can cause serious damage to the baby.
3. Eat before your feet hit the floor. If you start the morning off sick, you are likely to stay sick all day. Set a tray of easy-to-digest favorites at your bedside. When you awaken to trek to the bathroom in the middle of the night, treat your stomach to a nibble or two. Continue to munch all morning, carrying your nibble tray around with you, if necessary—yes, even in the car and by your desk at work.
4. Ease into your day. If you don’t have to awaken at a set time, don’t. Ask your mate to get up quietly without disturbing you, and slowly awaken in your own time.
5. Graze to your stomach’s content. Low blood sugar can trigger nausea, and it may occur upon awakening or anytime you go hours without food. Grazing on nutritious mini-meals throughout the day keeps your stomach satisfied and your blood sugar steady.
6. Nibble, nibble and nibble on stomach-friendly foods. Because high- fat, spicy, and some high-fiber foods are harder to digest, consume easily digestible foods, such as liquids, smoothies, yogurts, and low-fat, high-carb foods. Avoid hard-to-digest fatty foods and fried foods, such as premium ice cream, french fries, and fried chicken.
7. Eat nutrient-dense foods. Include California avocados, kidney beans, cheese, fish, nut butter, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, tofu, and turkey. If peanut butter is too strong, try almond or cashew butter, and spread it thinly on crackers, bread, apple slices or celery sticks; a large glob of it may bounce back due to its high fat content.
8. Avoid dehydration by eating foods that stimulate thirst. Remember the three Ps: pickles, potato chips, and pretzels. Avoid letting your saliva hit an empty stomach. An empty stomach is hypersensitive to saliva, and nausea will soon follow. Line your stomach with milk, yogurt or ice cream before eating a saliva-stimulating food (such as salty foods, or dry foods such as crackers). Try peppermint candies or gum to help nausea but not on an empty stomach, and chew gum, containing sugar to avoid chemical sweeteners. Eat foods with a high water content to ease dehydration that aggravates nausea. Include melons, grapes, frozen fruit bars, lettuce, apples, pears, celery, and rhubarb.
9. Take prenatal vitamins with your biggest meal to prevent nausea. Vitamins can be a big trigger of nausea—unless they are taken with a large meal.
10. Eat high-energy foods. Complex carbohydrates (grandmothers called them starches) act as time-release energy capsules, slowly releasing energy into your bloodstream and helping to keep your appetite satisfied. The main food group represented here is grains (rice, corn, wheat, oats, millet, barley), found in breads, cereals, pastas, and crackers.
11. Stick to feel-better favorites. Make a list of foods that help you feel better or less nauseated. While this list may change, it can help you avoid food triggers that make you ill.
12. Make yourself eat. No matter whether you feel like it or not—eat something. If you don’t eat, you will get an acid-filled stomach and low blood sugar.
13. Get out and see the world. Visit friends, go to a movie, rest in a hammock, take a walk at lunchtime, or go to a park with friends. Any change of scenery may provide a stomach-settling distraction.
14. Drive, don’t ride. Some women find that by doing the driving instead of riding, they have less of a nausea problem. This explains why the helmsman on a boat is the least likely to get seasick.
15. Delegate, delegate, delegate. Delegate tasks to Mr. Mom or to older kids. Post a list of “these things bother mom…these things make me feel better.” Let your spouse mop the floor. Cook easier meals. If the entire family eats cheese and crackers and carrots for a few meals, they will survive.
16. Plan ahead. If you know what makes you miserable, arrange for detours around the things that trigger nausea. Follow this checklist:
- If cooking odors bother you, consider pre-cooking and freezing foods on days you feel well.
- Buy more convenience foods.
- If you are invited to another home for dinner, offer to bring a dish you know you’ll be able to eat.
- Carry your reliable edibles with you; when a hunger surge hits, the nausea is sure to follow if you don’t have a tried-and-true tidbit handy.
17. Reduce stress. Prenatal researchers feel it’s better for a baby in utero to be spared a steady barrage of stress hormones—and stress can increase your nausea cycle. Learning to reduce stress now is good practice for maintaining serenity as a new mother. Remind yourself that what your baby needs most is a happy, rested mother, both before and after birth.
18. Try acupressure. Both Eastern and Western medical practitioners describe a pressure point about two inches above the crease on the inner aspect of the wrist which, if stimulated, may relieve nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy and other conditions (such as seasickness). Sea Bands®, available without prescription at pharmacies and marine stores, are worn around one or both wrists. Each band contains a button that presses on the vomiting-sensitive pressure point. These bands have been shown to work in research studies.
19. Dress comfortably. Wear loose clothing. Many mothers find that anything pressing on their abdomen, waist, or neck is irritating and nausea triggering.
20. Position yourself for comfort. Heartburn is another common part of the nausea-pregnancy package. This burning feeling, which is caused by reflux of stomach acids into the lower esophagus, occurs more frequently during pregnancy (hormones, again, which relax the stomach walls). For heartburn, keep upright or lie on your right side after eating. Lying on your back is more likely to aggravate heartburn.
21. Sleep it off. It’s fortunate that the extreme need for sleep coincides with the morning sickness phase. So precious is this rest that you will want to ensure that sleep goes on as long as possible.
22. Have one last meal before retiring, preferably of fruit and long- acting complex carbohydrates (grains and bland pasta). These foods slowly release energy into your bloodstream throughout the night yet are unlikely to keep you awake. Add to these natural antacid foods—milk, ice cream, and yogurt— to neutralize upsetting stomach acids as you drift off to sleep. Take chewable calcium tablets, which act as antacids, before retiring or upon awakening.
23. Eat anyway! While it’s not uncommon for women to feel that nothing tastes good, not eating can actually aggravate the cycle of nausea.
24. Be positive. Lastly, choose who you share your misery with. Mothers who have been there and felt morning sickness will understand; others won’t. When you’re having a day you can’t keep anything down, keep your eyes on the prize—the precious baby-to-be!