Morning Sickness

Anyone who suffers from motion sickness will have an idea of what morning sickness is like. 

In the first trimester of pregnancy, more than 80 percent of all women who are expectant mothers will be stricken with some type and level of morning sickness.  Although its name is a bit deceptive, morning sickness does not just happen in the morning:  it can occur anytime of the day or night. 

Causes of Morning Sickness

This condition is thought to be caused by the chemical by-products of the increased hormonal activity taking place in the pregnant woman's body, which creates toxins. 


Some of the symptoms of morning sickness can include:

  • Vomiting (which can occur without any warning)

  • Cramps

  • Heartburn

  • Food cravings

  • Intense hunger

  • Metallic taste in the mouth

  • Feeling weak or tired

While vomiting can temporarily make the nausea lighten a little, it can also leave the woman feeling exhausted and headachy.  Vomiting while pregnant can also lead to nosebleeds.

One side note of optimism here:  A study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the U.S. showed that women who vomit during their pregnancies were more likely to carry to term and deliver healthy babies.

Morning Sickness and Weight Gain

Many women worry that their morning sickness is preventing them from gaining weight and properly nourishing the fetus.  In the vast majority of women with this condition, the body still manages to meet the baby's needs.  Symptoms of morning sickness will typically disappear in the early part of the second trimester when the placenta is fully formed.  This allows for plenty of time for weight gain. 

However, any women who lose more than five percent of their pre-pregnancy weight should consult their physician.

Diet for Morning Sickness

Fear of morning sickness makes many women much more thoughtful of the food she will consume during pregnancy.  This is a time when some women find the incentive to begin a diet change that has healthy, nutritional choices. 

Generally speaking, staying away from spicy or fried foods, avoiding caffeine and keeping food choices simple will help prevent nausea.  Don't brush the teeth right after eating (this can cause nausea as well).  When possible avoid cooking and stay away from "bad" smells that produce feelings of nausea.

Hot or cold foods can irritate the stomach.  If taking prenatal supplements is a problem because of nausea, try taking them during the time of day when queasiness is at its lowest point.  Taking these supplements with food will help. 

Cravings during Pregnancy

Many health care professionals feel it is important to listen to the body's cravings during pregnancy.  Some women decide to avoid certain foods and beverages because of their smells.  Others have powerful cravings for a specific food.

However, sometimes a craving can be a sign of a nutritional deficiency and is telling the pregnant woman what her body needs.  Cravings for ice cream, for instance, can indicate a need for protein, fat or calcium. 

Whatever food is craved, aim for a healthy version of the craving.  If sweets are craved, add more protein to the diet to balance the blood sugar.  If this does not stop the cravings for sweets, choose an option such as raisins.

Fighting the Nausea

Here are a few tips to try:

  • Eat little and often - Keeping the blood sugar levels balanced can help fight nausea.

  • Eat snacks that combine complex carbohydrates with protein.

  • Don't go more than three hours without eating.

  • Good snack choices include wholemeal toast, rye crackers, organic hummus and scrambled egg on toast.

  • First thing in the morning, try eating a dry cracker.

  • Apple cider vinegar in a cup of warm water early in the morning may help neutralize stomach acid.

  • Eat almonds for protein and calcium, both of which settle the stomach.

  • Drink water throughout the day to replace the fluids lost through vomiting.

Natural Treatments

Some natural remedies for morning sickness include:

  • Ginger - This herb is a well-known treatment for morning sickness.  Making ginger tea is one of the easiest ways to consume ginger, but supplements are also available.

  • Nux vomica- This substance can help if the woman needs to vomit to feel better.

  • Lemon juice - Lemon helps to relieve nausea.  Add lemon juice to hot or cold water and drink, or just smell the fragrance of a freshly cut lemon.

  • Peppermint - The menthol in peppermint has a cooling, anesthetic effect on the stomach.

  • Black horehound - This herb is known to help with motion sickness and can also be used for vomiting due to pregnancy.

  • Cabbage - Raw or cooked cabbage can be beneficial, but sauerkraut seems to be especially helpful for nausea.

  • Peach - Teas made from peach leaves or bark can relieve morning sickness. 

  • Raspberry - Tea made from raspberry leaves is also known for curbing the nausea associated with morning sickness.  It is also believed to help with menstrual cramps and labor pains.


  1. Canas, M. et al. (2006). Women's health. Barcelona, Spain : Rebo
  2. Glenville, M. (2010).The natural health bible for women : the complete guide for women of all ages.London : Duncan Baird Publishers
  3. Jarvis, S.(2009).Women's health for life : medical advice you can trust : symptoms, treatment, prevention. London : Dorling Kindersley
  4. Northrup,C.(2009). Women's bodies, women's wisdom : the complete guide to women's health and wellbeing. London : Piatkus
  5. Timyan, J. et al. (1993).The Health of women : a global perspective. Boulder : Westview Press

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