Many women, between 70-80% in fact, experience some level of nausea during pregnancy, most often during the first trimester. Science doesn’t know exactly why that happens but there are some hypotheses. According to a paper in the National Library of Medicine, the most studied hypothesis is that nausea is linked to the surge of hormones occurring during that first trimester, more specifically the ovarian hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone are thought to contribute to pregnancy nausea by slowing the movement within the GI tract. This slow movement may alter gastric emptying and lead to increased nausea and vomiting. While the cause of pregnancy nausea continues to be studied, we have some natural ways to potentially reduce that nausea.
Ginger is an ancient herb used widely in history for its many natural medicinal properties and particularly as an antiemetic. The best available evidence demonstrates that ginger is an effective and inexpensive treatment for nausea and vomiting and is safe. The National Institute of Health shared that a recent analysis of ginger demonstrated that dried ginger powder products contained the highest quantity of gingerol-related compounds (the active ingredient in ginger that has the potential to help with nausea) followed by fresh ginger and powdered ginger tea products. Ginger powder is great to add to baked goods and grated fresh ginger into hot water is a wonderful way to make fresh ginger tea. Another option is consuming ginger candies. Ginger candies or chews are pretty easy to find these days and can be helpful to have on hand throughout the day.
One study on the treatment of nausea during pregnancy showed that reducing the size of meals consumed throughout the day and increasing the frequency of the meals may help relieve symptoms. Having smaller amounts of food and fluids more often can help prevent mild cases of nausea and vomiting from worsening. Protein-rich meals and those that are lower in fat also help decrease symptoms. Having lighter snacks, including nuts and dry fruits and dairy products like yogurt are often encouraged. Drinks that contain electrolytes and other supplements are also recommended. A great electrolyte drink to make at home without the added sugars you may find in a store bought electrolyte beverage is having some coconut water with a pinch or two of salt. Coconut water is naturally hydrating and contains five electrolytes that your body needs: potassium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorous, and calcium making it a great addition to any diet.
Complimentary Medicine and IV Therapy
Complimentary medicine such as acupuncture has shown to be beneficial for managing nausea, specifically working with an area on the wrist called PC6. During acupuncture, thin needles are inserted into specific points on the body to stimulate nerve fibers, which transmit signals to the brain and spinal cord. These signals are thought to have the ability to decrease nausea.
While acupuncture may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there are wrist bands created to emulate the effects of acupuncture specific to nausea. Many people use them if they are going on a boat and are prone to being sea sick.
If accessible getting IV therapy is another option to manage nausea, especially during that first trimester when getting key nutrients is so imperative but yet so challenging. Receiving key vitamins and minerals through IV therapy increases the bodies ability to absorb those nutrients and helps increase hydration, among other benefits.
Some Other Options and Tips
- Taking a B6 supplement
- Aroma therapy: keeping a small bottle of peppermint essential oil on hand and taking in the scent when nausea is creeping in. Peppermint tea is also a great option to help emulate the same effects.
- Drinking plenty of water: seems impossible when feeling nauseous so a great way to get water down is putting a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, cucumber slices, orange slices, or mint to add a little extra appealing flavor. Think spa water!
- Slow movement such as walks and calming yoga
- Deep breaths
- Natural light and air first thing in the morning
- Nausea popsicles: making homemade popsicles with a mix of blended yogurt and fruit. Yogurt is a great source of calcium and it can help to neutralize stomach acids. Another popsicle option is blending fruit and greens (perfect opportunity to add some ginger in there for some added benefits!)
Nausea can happen in many situations and is never a fun state to be in. The natural tips above can help reduce nausea without using medications. If nausea continues to persist after trying some of these natural ways of managing one should seek the help of their provider.