Preventing Pregnancy Nausea


Morning sickness.

 

If you talk to enough moms, you will learn that “morning sickness” can happen at any time of the day (or night!)  Often dreaded, usually endured, rarely life-threatening (except in the case of  Hyperemesis Gravidarum.)

Statistics vary, stating that 50 to 90% of pregnant women suffer from nausea at some time during pregnancy.

And it is non-existent for many women!

During the last four years, I have researched this topic exhaustively for my clients and it seems about time to compile all my info in one place.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could enjoy a nausea-free pregnancy?

 

So what causes nausea in pregnancy?

 

The most common hypothesis is that it is caused by pregnancy hormones; another hypothesis is that there is an evolutionary advantage to avoiding toxins in food.

However, when a significant number of women experience NO nausea during pregnancy, it makes me wonder what is really going on…

From an evolutionary survival perspective, it isn’t logical that women would be debilitated by nausea during pregnancy.  Food aversions make sense, in terms of avoiding potential toxins, but nausea & (ahem) vomiting?  Not so much.

 

From what I’ve seen in my clients, the most common causes of nausea/vomiting are:

Nutritional deficiencies

Blood sugar issues

An overloaded liver

Emotional issues (mostly unconscious)

Ideally, moms-to-be would address these issues before conception.   Most of the suggestions below work best if applied before pregnancy, so please share this with your family/friends who are planning on having a baby in the near future!

 
Disclaimer: These suggestions may not work for everyone, so please don’t hesitate to seek medical advice if necessary.

How can we avoid Nausea in Pregnancy?

 

Address nutritional deficiencies.

Several studies have shown that prenatal vitamins taken before conception can prevent pregnancy nausea completely in some women.

Vitamin B6 especially, has been shown to alleviate pregnancy nausea.  Best to start taking 100 mg/day for 2-3 months prior to conception, or start as soon as you know you are pregnant if it is not already in your prenatal vitamin.  Make sure not to exceed 100 mg/day from supplements.

Even better, a whole-foods diet that includes organ meats (such as 3-4 oz of liver 2x a week) can provide all of the necessary B vitamins.  Chicken liver paté is delicious and also provides iron, Vitamin A and folate (folic acid.)  Here’s a great recipe for you (scroll down the linked page!)

Avoiding grains, legumes and excessive nuts can be helpful.  All of these foods contain phytates, which inhibit mineral absorption.  Many mamas who eat a low-carb Primal diet (no vegetable oils, low sugar, no grains or legumes) report no morning sickness or food cravings.

And of course, make sure you are sufficient in Vitamin D3 & Magnesium to ensure proper hormonal balance.

Update: Epsom salt baths before bed or Magnesium Oil rubbed into your skin every eve before bed may help with nausea, too.   I am in the process of researching this, but it is certainly worth trying & definitely won’t hurt (test the Magnesium Oil on a small patch of skin first–I can’t use it because it makes me itch!)  And Magnesium will help your sleep–you are going to need it!

 

Keep your blood sugar stable.

Small meals eaten more often are helpful in keeping your blood sugar stable.  Also, eating low-carb (50-100 gm/day)  can make a big difference for some women.  Try eating protein & fat at every meal to slow down blood sugar rises.

 

Support your Liver.

The rise in estrogen during pregnancy can create nausea for some women if your liver isn’t adequately processing the excess.  (Everyone’s hormonal balance is different, which is why I believe some women can eat a crappy diet & still have no pregnancy nausea.)

Sufficient protein can make a huge difference, since protein helps the liver to work properly.  I suggest .7 to 1 gram of protein per day per pound of body weight as a general recommendation.

Milk Thistle is a herb that helps the liver detoxify.  Best to start taking it 1-2 months before conception.  An extract is easiest.  Look for 70% silymarin.  240-280 mg/day.

Pregnancy safety: Milk Thistle has been commonly used as a food, and a couple of small studies have shown no side effects when used in pregnancy, but most medical providers will not recommend it until larger studies are done.

 

Clear emotional issues.

For a few women, the distress of an unplanned pregnancy can trigger nausea.  Or sometimes it is a belief that you need to feel nauseous in order to know you are pregnant or to have a healthy pregnancy (untrue, by the way!)   Other beliefs can influence whether or not you have nausea.

EFT is really helpful in quickly clearing these issues and beliefs.  If you have tried all the nutritional suggestions and you are still nauseous, it may be helpful to delve a bit deeper.

There are many home-remedies to reduce nausea, too.   Ginger, acupressure bands, lemons, peppermint tea, etc.  Easy enough to find on a Google search!  But all of these may be totally unnecessary, if you can get your nutrition dialed in before conception and clear any emotional issues/beliefs that may contribute.

~~~

What has been your experience with pregnancy nausea? 

What has helped?

 

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002468/ 

 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2047064

 

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25 Responses to “Preventing Pregnancy Nausea”

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  1. katie says:

    I find this information very helpful and valuable…My first pregnancy was rough with ‘all day’ sickness continual till 6 1/2 Months. I ate lots of breads (the only thing I could imagine keeping down) which only later did I learn that it just made the problem so much worse! Plus I gained so much weight so quickly! My second pregnancy was lower carb, higher protein, (altho still I consumed some grains, sugars, and processed junk!) and I definitely noticed the difference! Heavy nausea only lasted 3 1/2 *weeks*….much easier to tolerate than the first time. yet I still had other challenging ‘symptoms’ and occasional nausea. Now that I switched to a strict primal diet a few months ago, I am looking forward to conceiving another baby! I am interested to see and feel the difference with the clean diet, and implementing this wisdom..
    Thanks you for sharing this info!

    • Sondra Rose says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Katie! Do check in & let us know how your next pregnancy goes.

    • PrimalJPoucher says:

      I am 5 wks pregnant and I have been taking milk thistle for years before I got pregnant daily. I am starting to experience some very tame morning sickness. I am still taking milk thistle but I am not sure if it is enough or too much and just want to make sure. It is
      spring valley concentrated milk thistle
      and it says 1g (silybum marianum)(seed)*(from 250mg of 4:1 extract)
      I am currently taking 4 a day of the one I said I am taking because that is how many I took prepregancy.

      If you are unsure can you just please just link me or tell me the brand and strength that would meet the “70% silymarin 240-280mg/day” ???????

      • Sondra Rose says:

        Hi PP~

        Congrats on your pregnancy! The extract you are taking is not standardized for silmarylin content, so there is no way to tell how much silmarylin you are getting. If you feel good, then no need to change!

        NOW has concentrated supplement that would allow you to take 1 capsule a day and get just a tiny bit more than the range I recommended. Here’s the link: http://www.iherb.com/Now-Foods-Silymarin-Milk-Thistle-Extract-2X-300-mg-200-Vcaps/13870

        If you want a lower dose supplement, they are certainly out there. Just look for ones that have a standardized silmarylin content.

  2. Lauren says:

    I picked up the link from PH but thought I’d comment here too that magnesium supplementation has helped me. I use pure Mg citrate, about a teaspoonful in my herbal tea at night, and it seems to prevent the all-day-ickies the next day. It’s sour, so works best in a citrus-flavoured base. I hear that Mg oil or Epsom salt baths work as well, but do not have access to those so can’t vouch for them personally.

    • Sondra Rose says:

      Thanks for sharing that, Lauren!

      I often suggest Magnesium Citrate for constipation, but I hadn’t heard of it for pregnancy nausea. If you have any links about it, please post again. I’m off to do more research!

  3. Danielle says:

    I have just finished my first trimester and couldn’t be more happy. This article had great information, thank you. I have found that the whole blood sugar stable thing to be my problem. If I didn’t have something in my stomach I would feel nauseous. I had to eat crackers constantly.

  4. UKPaleo says:

    Alas, these recommendations weren’t true for me at all! I was strict paleo up until about 7wks pregnant at which point I suddenly can’t stomach anything I used to eat. I tried to soldier on with my usual diet for a couple of days, but it just made my symptoms far worse and food was going straight through me. Unfortunately, all I can keep down at the moment is plain, carb-heavy stuff like toast, crackers and potatoes. I’m managing to get some healthy proteins in there (scrambled eggs, plain chicken, tuna) and luckily I don’t want sweet things. But, the thought of anything rich, fatty or spicy makes me gag! I’m so disappointed as I believe my paleo diet is the best way to feed me and the growing baby :(

    • Sondra Rose says:

      Bella~ Paleo doesn’t mean low carb. Even though lower carb may work for some pregnant women, it won’t work for all; I think it is great that you are listening to your body! In fact, many hunter-gatherers ate a LOT of starchy tubers. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, even white rice (fewer phytates than brown rice) are fine.

      Also, quite a few women are zinc deficient & some may have trouble digesting fat: http://www.westonaprice.org/metabolic-disorders/copper-zinc-imbalance.

      Keep eating the foods that work for you & don’t sweat some grains. If you can do gluten-free, that’s great, but the main thing is to eat mostly whole foods, get your Vitamin D level to sufficiency and relax!

    • Thuranira says:

      I’ll be 15 weeks wednesday and I never rlaley had any significant MS in the beginning either. Like you, I had some bouts of nausea here and there. Then, at like 12 weeks, I started to have more severe nausea, and more frequently. It was never actually bad enough to vomit though. It’s died down some, but it’s still there at least once a day. If it makes you feel any better, I read somewhere that you’re more likely to have MS if your mom did with her pregnancy. I know it’s hard when you hear stuff relating lack of MS to miscarriage, but I know plenty of people that had no MS and had healthy pregnancies. :)

  5. Danielle O. says:

    Glad to have stumbled across this article. Just about 5 weeks into my pregnancy and the nausea has just started. I have been paleo for about 1.5 years but the past couple of weeks have been terrible – aversion to meat and veggies, and craving carbs galore.

    I will definitely be trying some of your suggestions.

    Thanks, Sondra.

    • Sondra Rose says:

      Congrats on your pregnancy, Danielle!

      Let me know how it goes and don’t worry if you need to eat a LOT more carbs for the first trimester–seems pretty normal in the Paleo world–though certainly not true for everyone. Your baby will be fine with the nutrient reserves you’ve built up.

      I am especially curious if you decide to try the transdermal Magnesium.

    • Cristian says:

      I didn’t have any at all. No nausea, and I didn’t puke once the etirne pregnancy. I did lose my appetite in the beginning, and had raging heartburn and indigestion from mid-second-tri on. And trust me, you’d have those “Is everything ok?” feelings whether or not you had m/s. I would spazz about everything. Don’t even get me started about the time I absentmindedly ate cold deli sandwiches 3 days in a row during the first tri. I almost stressed myself to death!

  6. Katie says:

    Thank you for this post! I love your approach to embracing what you feel your body needs and going with it.
    This is my second pregnancy and it has been the absolute opposite to my first so far. The first time around I had no symptoms, this time I have them all and have been very sick.
    With a lot of food intolerances, the Paleo diet was ideal for me pre-pregnancy. Now potato chips are my only saviour from nausea but my bowels are having an awful time, it’s a catch 22! Vegetables are a no-go for me right now, just the thought of them gives me shivers and although I am craving bread my allergy to wheat and soy is reaping havok.
    I would love to know if anyone has any other starchy alternatives that dont involve grains, soy or vegetable oils?
    Sweet things are also out for me this pregnancy so my beloved sweet potato isn’t cutting it either.
    Thank you!

    • Sondra Rose says:

      Hi Katie~

      If rice and potatoes work for you, then by all means use them! White rice has fewer phytates than brown rice & is essentially starch–so pretty benign for most folk, if tolerated. Rice crackers can work if you can find some soy-free.

      Tapioca can be a good starch source, again, if tolerated.

      Make hashbrowns or home-made potato chips with coconut oil.

      You may want to search out some gluten-free breads. Here’s a Paleo company that produces a couple of different ones: http://www.paleobread.com

      Good luck!

  7. Cece says:

    I am currently 8 weeks pregnant. I have been paleo/primal for almost a year. However, severe morning sickness hit almost 2 weeks ago now and has been relentless. The constant nausea was something I wasn’t prepared for. I thought my paleo lifestyle and crossfit consistency would be the answer to having any pregnancy sickness. I was wrong. This will be our first child and I want so much to do the right things for our little one. I have been wanting many foods from my childhood…maybe because they seem comforting to me at this point. I can barely stand to look at any meat and most vegetables are a no go. I have been loving watermelon and that is about the only thing I can say I actually enjoy eating at this point. I try not to feel guilty over the non-paleo choices I am making, but that is difficult as I feel paleo is way to eat and I want to give my baby the best start possible. I find I am hungry most of the time and should probably be eating more than I am, but I just struggle with making non-paleo allowances. I am hoping this passes with my first trimester. Thank you for writing about this issue and I am glad to hear I am not alone in my paleo struggle during pregnancy.

    • Sondra Rose says:

      Hi Cece~ Congrats on your pregnancy!

      I hope you find a suggestion here that works for you. Ongoing stress is actually more of an issue for your baby than whether or not you eat some non-Paleo foods for awhile. Try the Magnesium & see if it helps–it’s really great for relaxation!

  8. Terran says:

    This is my first Primal pregnancy. I was sick the entire time with my previous two and extremely lactose intolerant. The only time I have been sick this time around is when I upped my carb intake at the advice of a “nutritionist.” I have T2 diabetes that I have been controlling with Metformin. I am now 12 weeks and the OB wants me to switch to insulin. The nutritionist acknowledges that my numbers are going to go out of control and that I’ll just need to increase my meds. Needless to say, I’m still fuming! I will continue to eat low carb (<50 g in any 24 hour period) and just smile and nod. I wholeheartedly believe that diet affects how we feel in pregnancy.

  9. Kitmao says:

    I’m in my second pregnancy, and with my first I was not at all paleo and had morning/afternoon sickness. It was manageable and just annoying, really. This time, I’ve been paleo (as in totally paleo/not some percentage) all year and I’m having incredible sickness going on. I get no relief. I’m sick 24/7 with no breaks and I’m going on two months of this.

    I held fast with eating paleo until two weeks ago, when I finally broke and started eating bread. This does give some relief – sometimes – but I’m miserable in other ways, of course. Before I decided to try this awful route, I was only able to keep down lean meat, applesauce and white potato. That was it. No fats would stay down – if I could even bring myself to eat it. I came from a high fat/low carb diet, too.

    I did have some major stress hit my life right at the beginning of pregnancy, so that absolutely could have played a role, but that is resolved now.

    My question for you is, if I flip this around now in it’s tracks and get on board with all of your recommendations, in your experience has doing something like that helped women? I’ve tried all the home remedies – even acupuncture – and nothing is giving me relief like bread is. But, the price I pay for the relief is a little high as I have a mild reaction to wheat. Any thoughts you have on this would be so appreciated.

    • Sondra Rose says:

      Hi Casey~
      I’m sorry you’ve had such a difficult experience! Everyone is so different–and as you are experiencing–every pregnancy is different, too. Your hormonal profile is going to shift as you enter your second trimester & the MS may resolve on its own.

      Some of my clients have been able to get relief from eating more protein and more frequently at this stage. With one of my clients, we needed to address an emotional issue underlying her 24/7 nausea. We did some EFT on her specific issue and it really helped.

      Given that you’ve been eating so well for so long, I wouldn’t worry about eating some bread. But since you have a reaction to wheat, I’d suggest a gluten-free bread like Udi’s. I tolerate Udi’s with no problem, and though it’s not Paleo, it certainly has a texture that satisfies my occasional urge for something bready.

      Do let me know if you need further support.

  10. Mary says:

    Hi, I’m almost 12 weeks pregnant now, and have had extreme nausea since about 5 weeks in. I’ve thrown up so much that I’ve lost almost 14 pounds. (I’m 5’1 and weighed 136 pre-pregnancy, so for me that’s a lot!) We were completely surprised by this pregnancy as we were on the pill when got pregnant. For me, I know the cause of my nausea – nutritional deficiencies. I’m a food neophobic, which means I’m terrified of new foods the way some people are scared of spiders, heights, or tight spaces. To many people it sounds stupid and like I’m just a picky eater, but I assure you it is so much more than that. I can’t bring myself to eat many foods, and my diet is limited because of this. I know my nutrition has suffered, but I always planned on getting it under control before I decided to have kids, and now I’m too late. Please give me any advice you can, I’m desperate for it. I’m so scared that I’m going to cause damage to my baby.

    • Sondra Rose says:

      Hi Mary~
      Fortunately, your body is programmed to make sure that your baby gets as much nutrition as possible from your nutrient stores/body fat, so s/he is likely to be just fine. That is part of the HCG hormone’s function.

      It’s not unusual for some mamas to lose that much weight due to nausea in the first trimester. Definitely important to eat as well as you can from this point forward.

      Read my other blog posts on nutrition for more suggestions. Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D3, Omega 3 and minerals via supplements, if necessary.

      If you would like some help with the neophobia, EFT is very effective and fast at clearing phobias & I would be happy to help you if you would like to book a session. Please feel free to contact me if I can assist you further!

  11. Roxana says:

    I’ve actually steadily used a magnesium supplement almost a year before I got pregnant, and well not sure if my morning sickness would have been worse if I didn’t have any at all, but it was pretty bad. Like a lot of ladies mentioned, the only thing I could eat without gagging was potatoes – white and rice. I did manage to get some butter in via mashed potatoes and putting it on rice waffels.
    The thing that did help me feel less bad about my eating habits between week 7-12 when my morning sickness hit the worse was indeed making a habit of putting something in my mouth as soon as I opened my eyes and constantly throughout the day. Even though I was eating less than half of the least amount of food I’d ever eaten in my adult life, at least I was getting some nutrition + it made it easier to accept a bite or two of food rather than a whole plate + it helped with the blood sugars too.
    Good luck to all the pregnant ladies out there! And thanks for the great article and website!

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