Morning sickness, which is often one of the first indications you’re pregnant, is incredibly common. According to the American Pregnancy Association, 85 percent of pregnant women will experience some degree of nausea and vomiting during their first trimester. So, if you’re currently living in a queasy hellscape where even a passing whiff of a co-worker’s tuna-fish sandwich can send you running to the bathroom, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone — and that, for most women, that hellscape should subside somewhere around 12 weeks of your pregnancy. In the meantime, there are effective and healthy ways to battle nausea and vomiting, according to the ten experts (including OB/GYNs, dietitians, doulas, and pharmacists) we spoke to, who also shared advice on preempting morning-sickness-related nausea and vomiting, as well as useful tips for making it through situations that trigger queasiness (like a bumpy car ride or crowded subway commute).
The jury’s still out on what exactly causes morning sickness, which can actually strike at any time of day. But our experts told us that the most common explanations for it include rapid hormonal changes during early pregnancy, an enhanced sense of smell, genetic predisposition, and the natural, physiological response of pregnant women protecting their bodies from anything toxic or poisonous. More important than why it happens is what triggers it, which is often unique to each woman and can include certain smells, motion, heat, and spicy foods, among other things. So, as Dr. Michelle Jones Singer puts it, you should “pay attention to what triggers you and if a smell or food makes you nauseous, get away from it.” Beyond that, read on for the stuff she and our other nine experts recommend to treat morning sickness when it strikes.
Best overall way to prevent morning sickness
All ten of our experts recommended a diet of small frequent meals throughout the day to help prevent nausea and even worse bouts of morning sickness. According to Dr. Sherry Ross, an OB/GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period., “the best way to avoid nausea during pregnancy is to eat frequently and often. Don’t wait until you feel hungry to eat.” She recommends the BRAT diet, which “consists of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast,” and says that “saltine crackers are also quite helpful.” Several of our experts agree, suggesting to keep crackers or nuts by your bed so you can get something in your stomach as soon as you wake up each morning. In addition to steering clear of foods that turn your stomach, find ways to add protein to your small meals by eating things like yogurt, smoothies, or peanut butter (on your saltines), and make sure you stay hydrated. When it comes to the latter, all of our experts suggest taking small sips of water rather than big gulps, which they warn could upset already sensitive stomachs.
Best overall way to soothe morning sickness
If you’re following the above dietary and hydration regimen and you still feel nauseous, the best way to soothe that sensation is with some form of ginger, according to all of our experts. Ross says “it’s thought that ginger helps relax gastrointestinal muscles, relieving symptoms associated with morning sickness,” and recommends ginger in many different forms, including “ginger root boiled in water, ginger tea, ginger candies, non-alcoholic ginger beer, gum, or capsules.”
Certified labor doula and childbirth educator Holly Lo, pharmacist Dr. Danielle R. Plummer, certified dietician Sarah Rueven (who specializes in prenatal and postnatal nutrition), and childbirth educators Lauren Ohayon and Lindsay McCoy (the co-founders of pregnancy website One Strong Mama) agree, all suggesting ginger candies such as chews and lozenges, as well as crystallized ginger, for nausea relief. Ohayon and McCoy like the brand The Ginger People, which sells chews and candies that they say lots of people like.
Best ginger tea to soothe morning sickness
Dr. Felice Gersh, an OB/GYN who founded the Integrative Medical Group in Irvine, CA, agrees that ginger in all of its forms provides relief, but specifically praised the power of ginger tea. Registered dietician Rachelle Mallik (a specialist in reproductive nutrition for fertility, pregnancy, and breastfeeding, who told us she had morning sickness during both of her pregnancies) agrees, suggesting to drink it cold rather than hot because it won’t give off as much odor. “I found that many of my clients prefer cold food and cold drinks. You can try carrying around a Yeti or other travel mug filled with iced ginger tea and some lemon. That’s what I would do. It’s easier to stay hydrated and can quell some of that nausea.”
Best non-ginger-flavored ginger chewable
Those who want the potential benefits of ginger but aren’t fans of its strong taste might try these chewable ginger tablets from The Ginger People, which are made with ginger but taste more like a mango, according to Mallik. “I didn’t like ginger chews and I was tired of eating crystallized ginger. So I tried these chewable ginger tablets from Ginger People, and found it helpful to keep them in my bag for times when I was on a bus or in a car.”
Best ginger pill
Taking a ginger-based supplement can also combat nausea, according to both Jones Singer and Bethany Dykman, a doula and mother of five, who prefer ginger supplement pills to candies. “My number one recommendation is to try powdered ginger capsules first thing in the morning and anytime nausea starts to rise,” says Dykman. Dykman recommends taking one pill first thing in the morning with some food and another at the first sign of nausea. But she notes it’s always best to check with your doctor or OB/GYN for more specific dosage recommendations.