OB-GYN Reveals What You Need To Make It Through Your Morning Sickness

Well, that escalated quickly. One minute, you're in absolute shock over that positive pregnancy test, and the next thing you know, within mere weeks, you are worshipping the porcelain bowl. Morning sickness is one of the most common early pregnancy symptoms, affecting seven out of 10 expectant mothers, according to March of Dimes. Whether you're actually throwing up, feeling too queasy to eat, or are constantly chowing down on carbs to help settle your stomach, nausea can make pregnancy exhausting. It's also terribly timed! How are you supposed to "eat for two," carefully curating a diet rich with the vitamins and nutrients your growing baby needs, when you don't want to eat at all?

In an interview with The List, Cynthia Bernal, MD, an ob/gyn with Orlando Health Physician Associates, offered survival tips for getting through this trying period of your pregnancy. "Nausea with or without vomiting is very common in the first trimester of pregnancy and, in some cases, can linger throughout the pregnancy even in the second or third trimester," Bernal said. "Although it's known as 'morning sickness,' we know many pregnant women can report feeling this way at any time during the day and not necessarily only in the morning." Fortunately, there are ways you can manage morning sickness, according to Bernal.

This is what you should eat to avoid nausea while pregnant

While food might feel like the bane of your existence in those early weeks of pregnancy, it's actually your key to getting a handle on morning sickness, Bernal said. "At times, being on an empty stomach can make symptoms worse, so we recommend having small frequent meals and carrying snacks that can help alleviate symptoms during the day," she explained. "We recommend eating meals slowly, and restricting fluid intake at least an hour before and after each meal to prevent a 'full stomach' feeling that could aggravate nausea symptoms." This doesn't mean you should allow yourself to get dehydrated, of course! But timing your drinking is key.

What you eat is almost as important as when you eat, Bernal added, because certain foods may help keep your nausea at bay. "Foods that have been known to help with morning sickness include ginger-containing foods. Also, eating more carbohydrate-based snacks, like soda crackers or dry toast, can help with nausea," she said.

So how long does morning sickness last, anyway?

Exactly how long can you expect to be living on a diet of ginger and soda crackers? It varies, according to Bernal. "Most pregnant women will experience very mild symptoms, usually noted only in the morning that will resolve during the day, but frequency and range in severity of symptoms vary significantly among pregnant patients as well," she said. "Patients who are twin or multiple gestations can also be at risk for experiencing severe symptoms at times."

Blame the elevated hormones in your system for the nausea, Bernal added. "The cause of these episodes of constant nausea, at times accompanied with episodes of vomiting, are suspected to be due to the abrupt change in hormonal levels as an early pregnancy develops," she said. If you're planning on having more than one child, don't assume that morning sickness experienced during your first pregnancy means all future pregnancies will be plagued by nausea. "It is very common that a patient will report each pregnancy with their own unique symptom," Bernal said.

What to do if morning sickness makes it difficult for you to take your prenatal vitamins

The first thing your doctor probably told you to do, when confirming your pregnancy, was to start taking prenatal vitamins, which help prevent birth defects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But how are you supposed to take them when swallowing anything makes you want to throw up? "If you find it difficult to take your regular prenatal vitamin because of morning sickness, trying chewable prenatal vitamins might be better," Bernal advised. Plus, vitamins themselves can help with nausea, she added. "Vitamin supplements that can help with morning sickness can be vitamin B 6 (Pyridoxine) that might be already present in your regular prenatal vitamin," she explained.

If these tips don't help, don't take morning sickness lying down — you absolutely need to be able to take prenatals and eat for your baby to be healthy! "Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and how they are affecting you," Bernal said. "Your doctor might decide you can benefit from other medications, like Doxylamine-pyridoxine, that have been known to also help alleviate symptoms." This is especially the case if your ob/gyn suspects you have hyperemesis gravidarum, "which requires immediate evaluation and treatment by your doctor," Bernal said. In most cases, though, the nausea resolves itself early on in the pregnancy... making room for heartburn, swollen ankles, stretch marks, and all of those other fun pregnancy symptoms!