5 Best Morning Sickness Remedies, According To Experts

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​​Dr. Ghazal is a double board certified fertility specialist, a Southern California native and an award-winning top doctor.
Sanaz Ghazal, M.D., F.A.C.O.G. Fertility / Reproductive Health / Obstetrics and Gynecology
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Morning sickness can knock the joy of pregnancy down a notch or two. It generally begins during the first six weeks of pregnancy and passes in the second trimester. The waves of nausea, often accompanied by vomiting, can be so unpleasant that some people will try any remedy to make it go away.

Luckily, there are safe remedies that really can help ease the symptoms of morning sickness, and doctors usually suggest trying the non-drug solutions first. Start by making some dietary changes like eating frequent, small meals every couple of hours and avoiding triggers like spicy or fatty foods. If that doesn’t help, consider one of the following strategies.

The Best Remedies for Morning Sickness

There are a number of remedies OB-GYNs typically recommend as being safe and effective for morning sickness. Talk to your doctor, though, before taking any medications, herbal remedies and vitamin supplements.

Ginger

Ginger is an effective non-drug treatment for morning sickness and can be consumed in a number of forms, including capsules. It’s also found in ginger ale, lollipops, tea and lozenges (look for products made with real ginger instead of artificial ginger flavoring). Experts recommend taking one 250 milligram capsule every six hours, four times a day.

“The FDA [Food & Drug Administration] cites ginger on its substances generally recognized as safe [GRAS] list,” says Rachel Adams, M.D., a Baltimore-based OB-GYN and 2021 Forbes Health Advisory Board member. “When compared with placebo, ginger decreases frequency of nausea, but not vomiting.”

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Crackers

Crackers are low-cost, taste good and are recommended to help ease morning sickness by the March of Dimes, an organization dedicated to the health of mothers and babies. Bland varieties in particular are typically tolerated best.

Try eating some in the morning before you get out of bed, suggests the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). It might also help to snack on crackers throughout the day, as well as nuts or fruit.

However, crackers can be high in salt, so keep an eye on your sodium intake. The daily recommended amount of sodium is 2,300 milligrams for healthy women. One Nabisco saltine cracker contains about 135 milligrams of sodium.

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Acupressure Wrist Bands

You don’t have to swallow or drink this remedy—you simply wear it around your wrist. Touted for relieving sea-sickness, these wristbands have been shown to reduce nausea and vomiting among pregnant people. They work by gently stimulating an acupressure point on the inside of the wrist, which may ease nausea.

“Studies looked at [wearing an acupressure wristband] 10 minutes a day, four times daily,” says Dr. Adams. “Other times can be for two to three minutes, several times a day. Sea-Band is the brand commonly used in the studies.”

There’s no harm in trying an acupressure wristband. “Evidence [that wristbands alleviate morning sickness] is mixed,” says Keren Lerner, M.D., an OB-GYN at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. But they cause no adverse effects.

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Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a treatment based on ancient Chinese medicine that works to unblock energy pathways in the body called meridians. An acupuncturist inserts tiny thin needles into your skin at specific points to treat and prevent certain conditions.

An Australian study of women in early pregnancy found those who received acupuncture treatments for four weeks experienced less nausea and dry retching than women who didn’t receive acupuncture treatments[1]. And acupuncture is safe, says Dr. Lerner.

“Many patients report improvement in symptoms, but that the improvement may be temporary until [the] next session,” she says.

Ask your healthcare provider to help you find an acupuncturist who is trained in working with pregnant people. Additionally, look for an acupuncturist with credentials—most states require a license, certification or registration to practice acupuncture, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Education, training standards and requirements for obtaining these depend on the state, but a license indicates the practitioner meets standards of knowledge and use of acupuncture.

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Vitamin B6 and Doxylamine

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is safe and easy to find in pharmacies or grocery stores, and can help ease nausea and vomiting, according to ACOG.

“Prevention is key,” says Dr. Adams. “Starting B6 prior to onset of symptoms, and especially one month prior to pregnancy—in a prenatal vitamin—has been shown to decrease the incidence and severity of [nausea and vomiting] of pregnancy.”

Doxylamine, a medication found in over-the-counter sleep aids, can be added if vitamin B6 alone doesn’t help symptoms. It’s an antihistamine, meaning it blocks certain chemicals in the body that cause nausea.

Whether you take either by itself or both together, these two drugs are safe to take during pregnancy and have no harmful effects on the fetus, states ACOG. Your doctor can prescribe a drug that combines vitamin B6 and doxylamine.

If you’re taking B6 alone, take 10 to 25 milligrams every six to eight hours, says Dr. Adams, who adds that the maximum dose of vitamin B6 in pregnancy is 200 milligrams a day. “In combination with doxylamine is Diclegis [a prescription medication], which is 10 milligrams of B6 and 10 milligrams of doxylamine.” You can take this nightly, and may increase to up to four times daily, she says. Another form is Bonjesta, which contains 20 milligrams of B6 and 20 milligrams of doxylamine. You can take up to two tablets daily, she says.

Foods That Fight Nausea During Pregnancy

If you’re experiencing nausea and struggling to keep food down, ACOG advises trying bland foods, specifically the BRATT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast and tea). Ultimately, they suggest finding any food that sounds appealing to you and that you are able to keep down.

Experts also recommend consuming smaller amounts of carbohydrates every half hour such as crackers, pasta, rice, bagels, dry toast or breakfast cereal. This is because carbohydrates have a lower risk of upsetting the stomach than some other foods.

Ginger is the only non-drug remedy recommended by ACOG to alleviate nausea. Foods and drinks containing ginger may provide relief for some people, but check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking a ginger supplement.

Avoid any foods or smells that make you feel ill and of course, be sure to always drink plenty of water.

Morning Sickness Medicine

If your pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting are not improving with dietary or lifestyle changes, there are a few medications that may help.

Over-the-Counter Morning Sickness Medicines

ACOG recommends vitamin B6 as the over-the-counter medication to try first. If that isn’t enough, they suggest adding doxylamine, an antihistamine that is found in over-the-counter sleep aids aimed at treating short-term insomnia.

Prescription Medicines for Morning Sickness

There is a prescription drug that combines vitamin B6 and doxylamine sold under the brand names Bonjesta and Diclegis. According to ACOG, both of these ingredients are safe for use during pregnancy and are not harmful to the developing fetus.

What Causes Morning Sickness?

Nausea and vomiting due to pregnancy (morning sickness) is a normal and common pregnancy symptom—although researchers still aren’t completely sure what causes it.

Morning sickness usually begins before nine weeks of pregnancy, often by six weeks along, and is not typically harmful to the fetus. For most people, it stops around 14 weeks, but for a select few , it can last for the entire pregnancy. Hormonal changes are the likely culprit of morning sickness in most pregnant people, but there are some risk factors that make you more likely to experience it. They include:

  • A pregnancy of multiples, twins or higher order
  • You’ve experienced morning sickness in prior pregnancies
  • You are prone to motion sickness
  • A history of migraines
  • Genetics––morning sickness can run in the family
  • A BMI of 30 or higher
  • Being pregnant for the first time

How Long Does Morning Sickness Last?

For most people, morning sickness begins before the nine-week mark and is gone by about 14 weeks. For some, it can last several weeks or months and for a small number of people, it can last the entire pregnancy.

When to See a Doctor

When it comes to food, everyone is different. “In general, I tell patients who are struggling with nausea in pregnancy to eat and drink whatever sounds good and that they are able to keep down,” says Kelly Culwell, M.D., a 2021 Forbes Health Advisory Board member and OB-GYN. “But if [a patient] is extremely limited in what she can eat for the long term, I might talk to her about ways we can ensure she is getting adequate nutrition, like supplement shakes.”

If a person’s vomiting becomes constant and severe—a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum—they should contact their doctor right away to avoid developing other health problems.

“Some women can experience ‘morning sickness,’ which can also be ‘all day sickness’ for some unlucky women throughout their pregnancy,” says Dr. Culwell. “As long as you are able to keep liquids and food down for most of the day, there is usually nothing to worry about.”

“Definitely talk to your doctor about your symptoms at your routine visits because there are treatments available,” she adds. If your nausea and vomiting are so severe that you are not able to keep down liquids, you should contact your doctor right away because you may need more intensive treatment so you do not become dehydrated.

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Frequently Asked Questions

When does morning sickness start?

Morning sickness usually starts before nine weeks of pregnancy and often, by six weeks.

When does morning sickness peak?

Morning sickness typically peaks in severity at around nine weeks. 

What's the difference between nausea and morning sickness?

Morning sickness is nausea caused by pregnancy.

Sources

Footnotes

References

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