Q: I have been experiencing first trimester nausea and fatigue the last few days. I’m not throwing up but I am hungry and nauseous at the same time. No food seems appetizing and nothing seems to satisfy me. My mom is sending me one of those sea sickness bands that sends little electric pulses. Do you know if they are any good? Any other tips? I’m having trouble just getting myself going. Did I mention I’m exhausted too?
A: Congratulations on your pregnancy! We know how uncomfortable nausea can be and we are happy to help you with some pregnancy nausea remedies.
Sea Sickness Bands and Acupuncture for Nausea
The sea sickness bands stimulate an acupuncture point called PC6, which has been shown to reduce nausea in pregnancy (and in patients receiving chemotherapy). Our patients who receive acupuncture on this point (and some other points including Ki27 and Ki6) report a temporary reduction in nausea. I have had mixed reports about the bracelets but it is worth a try. If it doesn’t work, please consider acupuncture.
It is very important for you to eat every 1 1/2- 2 hours to prevent the nausea from getting worse. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but it is important to eat small, high protein meals even if your appetite is low. This includes the bedtime hours as well; It really helps to get in the habit of grabbing a small protein snack if you wake up in the night. Often this alone will prevent morning sickness. In general, it is also very important to stay well hydrated.
Some examples of high protein snacks:
almonds and dried apricots
almond butter and rice cakes
apple with almond butter
avocado and sprout or cucumber on toast
egg drop soup
hummus and crackers
protein bars (our current favorite are KIND bars)
When looking for high protein snacks, it is important not only to look for foods high in grams of protein, but also foods that are relatively low in sugar. Often people think that yogurt is a high protein food but in fact, most yogurt has about 6 grams of protein per serving and 83-97% of the carbohydrates coming from sugar. Recently, we were able to find only one brand of yogurt that belied this statistic and had 16 grams of protein to offset the sugar content!
Other Tips for Reducing Nausea during Pregnancy
To reduce nausea, you can also split your prenatal vitamin in a half and take 1/2 in the morning and 1/2 at night, or take it at night before bed. The iron and the zinc in the vitamins tend to cause nausea. You can also supplement with B-6 but you should talk to your midwife or complementary health care provider about that first. You might be able to find B6 lollipops and lozenges for morning sickness, which delivers small doses over the day.
Other useful home remedies include increasing or including “sour” foods into your daily diet. Because the flavor sour is astringent – it helps alleviate nausea. Many women crave sour foods during the first trimester, perhaps for this very reason.
Some “sour” foods include:
Papaya with lemon/lime juice
1/2 a grapefruit
Apple Cider Vinegar
The last three food items on the list are of special value, as they have further benefits in addition to being sour. Kefir is a cultured dairy product that contains healthy probiotic cultures, protein and is easier to digest than milk or yogurt. Umeboshi plum is a pickled plum related to the apricot that is a specific Japanese remedy for nausea and digestive complaints. Umeboshi plum can be be purchased whole or as a paste and added to foods in place of salt for flavor or soaked and nibbled on. You only need a little bit as they are high in sodium. Umeboshi is traditionally eaten with rice and in the Japanese equivalent to having an apple a day!
One of the best tricks for reducing nausea is to mix a TBS of Apple Cider Vinegar in 8 ounces of warm water and have it before bed. This trick works wonders!
Herbs for First Trimester Nausea and Fatigue
There are multiple Chinese herbal formulas that could help reduce nausea as well. These formulas need to be prescribed by a licensed practitioner. For an easy home remedy you can make Ginger tea with honey. To make ginger tea, boil a small handful of fresh ginger in water for 10 minutes. You can add more water if it is too strong. You can also buy crystallized ginger chews or Ginger peoples – ginger chews in the natural candy section of your grocery store or in the bulk section.
For exhaustion, you can supplement with Floradix iron and herbs (this iron doesn’t make one nauseous, I know this from personal experience). Also, napping is a MUST. I remember being shocked by the fatigue during pregnancy; there is nothing like it. Even though the fetus is tiny, your body is working really hard. Your blood volume needs to increase significantly already and this is exhausting. Other good sources of iron and B-6 are unsulfered blackstrap molasses in a grain beverage such as Inka or Pero. Rooibas tea is also mineral rich and can offer a warm drink alternative.