Morning sickness is one of the most common symptoms of a healthy pregnancy, but that doesn’t make dealing with it any easier. While a mother-to-be may be overjoyed at the news that she’s expecting, she’s simultaneously dealing with raging hormones that likely contribute to feelings of fatigue and nausea, usually occurring between the 6th and 12th week.
It’s estimated that more than half of all pregnant women experience some form of morning sickness, whether or not it involves vomiting. And while it isn’t harmful to you or the fetus, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the proper nutrition.
To prevent those early weeks of pregnancy from making you miserable, here are some ways to fend off the constant queasy feelings.
1. Never get hungry
Hunger leads to nausea, so try to eat snacks or small meals every 2-3 hours but never to the point of being full, making you feel sick. Unless it’s very unappealing, eat a little something before you get out of bed in the morning, so you have food in your stomach before you start the day.
And nibble a few crackers or pretzels before going to sleep so your blood sugar will stay steady throughout the night.
2. Always pick protein
You may be craving carbs or fats, but you should combine some protein with whatever you’re eating so you’ll stay satisfied for more than fifteen minutes. Easy-to-add proteins include peanut butter, cheese, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, and hummus. Combine these ingredients with any cracker, veggie, or fruit, and you’ll be much more successful in keeping nausea at bay.
3. Drink cold fluids
Most pregnant women find room-temperature liquids to be gag-inducing. So sip ice-cold water throughout the day, but not during meals, which can dilute digestive enzymes. Make sure you wait for 30 minutes or so between drinking fluids and having food.
Staying hydrated is also especially important if you’re throwing up. Keep drinking whatever you can – water or juice, or soda if it’s all you can stomach – even if it keeps coming up. It will eventually stay down!
4. Avoid strong smells
Sniff fresh lemon if you’re feeling woozy but try to avoid other strong smells that can trigger stomach upset. Estrogen is linked to your sense of smell, so you may find yourself less tolerant of anything but the plainest of aromas.
Avoid cooking fragrant meals and put your perfume away for the time being. If you have to make food in the kitchen, make sure you can access fresh air by opening a window or door.
5. Exercise moderately
You probably aren’t in the mood to run your usual neighborhood route or take your favorite cardio class, but staying moderately active will help move food through your system and keep you from feeling ill after every meal.
Take a brisk walk a few times a day and lift some light weights or do gentle yoga. And don’t view morning sickness as an excuse to lie in bed all day. You especially don’t want to lie down after eating; it will cause digestive upset.
6. Get to know ginger
It’s well known that ginger can help quell nausea caused by more than just hormones. Ginger ale is easy to drink throughout the day, but if you’re looking for the variety, you can also try gingersnaps or gingerbread.
A little bit of fresh ginger in your water or tea adds a subtle flavor and is more gentle on the taste buds than crystallized ginger candy, which is still worth trying.
7. Keep it loose
Try not to wear form-fitting clothing. Pressure on your stomach will only exacerbate any feelings of nausea. Your waistband is probably tightening with each passing week, so you should try to keep it loose wherever possible.
If you have to buy a size bigger or invest in some maternity clothes, do so sooner rather than later. As your belly expands, you’ll be glad you have some wearable options.