Even if all you can eat is potato chips, go for it. So many women are determined to eat what they’re supposed to eat, but the real key when you’re sick is to eat anything as long as you can keep it down.
— Miriam Erick, M.S., R.D. founder of the Morning Sickness Nutrition Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Most women will try anything safe to stave off their pregnancy sickness—sucking on lemon drops, sipping peppermint tea, even eating crackers in bed. Yet what causes that nauseous feeling remains somewhat of a mystery. Some researchers contend it’s the body’s natural defense system at work, protecting your baby from harmful toxins, though the most popular theory is that it’s due to elevated hormones. But since all pregnant women’s hormones are in flux, why do only a little more than half of expectant moms get sick? Often, more hormones circulating means a greater chance you’ll be feeling pukey.
Environment also plays a role: Scents like strong perfume, the sight of certain foods, and motion can trigger nausea. In addition, stress, fatigue and operating on an empty stomach can make you more prone to gastrointestinal upsets. Consult your doctor if your sickness is severe; otherwise, try these remedies:
Ginger: This rhizome has been used for centuries to fight nausea. Try ginger ale, ginger tea, pickled Chinese ginger, or ginger-based jam on toast.
Lemons: Sniff them, eat them, lick them—the refreshing smell and taste calm many women’s stomachs. Suck on lemon drops if fresh fruit isn’t available.
Acupressure wristbands: Norwegian researchers found that 71 percent of pregnant women who wore acupressure bands reported less-intense sickness and a reduced duration of symptoms, according to a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care. Look for Sea-Bands or ReliefBands in drug and health-food stores.
Your favorite food: Any food will protect your stomach lining and prevent low blood sugar, so consult your food fairy: If you could eat anything, what would it be? You can always work on nutritional virtue in your second and third trimesters, when nausea usually subsides.