Congratulations! You’re pregnant!
There is one thing most women know to expect from pregnancy: morning sickness. In fact, 70-80% of women will experience nausea or vomiting to varying degrees during pregnancy. The most severe form of morning sickness is known as 'hyperemesis gravidarum (HG)' which is less common, affecting between 1-3% of pregnant women.
Despite the misleading name, “morning sickness” doesn’t just happen in the
morning; it can occur at any time of day or night. Coupled with fatigue, it can make
the first trimester a real struggle.
For the majority of women, nausea and vomiting will resolve by the end of the first
trimester (12-14 weeks); however, for the unlucky 20% of women (myself included) it
can continue the entire way through pregnancy.
What causes morning sickness?
The cause of nausea and vomiting symptoms in pregnancy remains unclear, though studies
suggest it is likely due to a combination of factors such as hormone fluctuations,
reduced blood sugar levels, micronutrient deficiencies (particularly Vit B6) and
Knowing that “it will likely pass” may be reassuring, but it doesn’t make it any easier
to ride it out. That’s where some practical strategies will hopefully bring you
What helps nausea in early pregnancy?
Graze throughout the day
When you feel terrible, the last thing you feel like doing is eating, but avoiding food will likely make you feel much worse. This is because when blood glucose levels drop,
nausea can increase, so making sure you nibble on small amounts of food every
hour, or two can keep nausea at bay. Try to have snacks like crackers, bliss balls,
nuts and fruit readily available at your bedside, in your car, handbag and desk. But which foods are the best in elevating morning sickness symptoms?
Foods that help with morning sickness
Go for salty, sour and cold options. Think roasted and salted nuts, cheese on toast, pickles and even a few salt and vinegar potato chips. Cold foods are sometimes better than hot foods as there is less aroma and, therefore, less nausea. Try fresh, cold fruit and smoothies with lots of ice – the colder, the better! While you may not always feel like eating the healthiest choices, a small amount of something when managing morning sickness is much better than eating nothing.
Pregnancy diet while sick
You might find that your morning sickness diet is not all that adventurous and all you can stomach is a ‘beige food’ diet in early pregnancy. And yes, that’s totally normal and okay. If, however, you want to make it more nutritious, pimp your beige food diet! Opt for whole grain options when you can, and try to follow those plain carbs with a small portion of protein or fat-containing food. This is the best way to keep blood sugar levels stable, which will help to reduce nausea.
If high-protein animal foods like eggs, fish and meat are unappetising, try a nutrient-
dense smoothie instead. Blend your favourite fruit and milk of choice with a good
quality whey, pea protein or collagen powder and add healthy fats like avocado
or nut butter. If your prenatal comes in a powder or capsule, you can add it after
blending (for capsules, open and pour in). This may be the only way to
get it down in the first trimester.
Staying hydrated is an essential part of managing nausea, especially if you are
vomiting. Iced cold water, sparkling water, coconut water, electrolyte solutions, broth
or clear soup are all good options. Aim to sip water throughout the day rather than a
large volume at one time and if you struggle to keep it down, try ice cubes or
ice blocks and avoid drinking directly after meals.
Ginger and vitamin B6 for morning sickness
There are very few foods directly linked to reducing feelings of nausea,
but ginger has some evidence to support its use. You can try ginger tea,
ginger lozenges, or even add ginger slices to your water to see if it helps settle
Vitamin B6 deficiency has been linked to pregnancy nausea. Animal foods are good
sources of vitamin B6, but are often not that appealing when you’re nauseated.
Instead, try other B6-rich foods like avocados, bananas, pistachios and sunflower
And if you can’t stomach any of these in food form, you can speak to your doctor or
dietitian about a safe and effective dose of ginger or vitamin B6 as a supplement.
How to help morning sickness when nothing works
For those of you who are really struggling, I’m sorry to say, many of these strategies
above aren’t going to cut it. The good news is that your doctor can do a lot to
Medication and hydration should not be withheld or delayed in hopes that your
symptoms will resolve themselves after the first trimester. Severe nausea and
vomiting in pregnancy or hyperemesis gravidarum can be dangerous if left unchecked for you and your baby.
More than anything, remember this: You’re doing the incredibly demanding job of growing a new human and you WILL get through this.
This article was written by Parents You've Got This Pediatric & Maternal Dietitian Expert Lynsey Bramley from Bellamy's Organic, she teaches all things Pregnancy Nutrition at our Pregnancy Masterclass, book your free spot today.