Whether you're in your first trimester or last, nausea during pregnancy can be one of the most unpleasant parts of your experience. Here's the scoop on why pregnancy nausea happens, how to manage it and when you might need to call in an expert.
When does pregnancy nausea start?
Pregnancy nausea will start at different times for different women. It may be as early as five weeks, or you may start to feel it closer to the 8-week mark. Many women find that it starts to fade by the end of their first trimester, though it can linger longer, especially if you have hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of nausea and vomiting.
Psst: Check out our guide on hyperemesis gravidarum.
What causes nausea in pregnancy?
Nausea during pregnancy is actually a good thing. Accordingly to Mayo Clinic, nausea and vomiting during the first trimester is associated with a reduced risk of early pregnancy loss—particularly for women age 30 and older. The presence of nausea is correlated with the production of HCG, a pregnancy hormone that indicates the pregnancy is moving in the right direction.
It's also been speculated that nausea could reduce fetal exposure to potentially harmful food borne bacteria associated with your diet. It encourages a more carbohydrate rich intake (essentially to help soak up the stomach acid) which can help your tiny baby's rain development. And last but not least, nausea during pregnancy encouraging you to slow down and take it easy (or easier at least!).
But just because it exists for a reason, doesn't mean it's easier to deal with. Here are five ways that you can quash that first-trimester queasiness.
What helps with pregnancy nausea?
1. Pregnancy lollipops and candy
Many women I work with have had relief from sucking on candies and mints. I particularly love the Queasy Pops from Three Lollies are formulated with essential oils and aromatherapy. They come in a variety of flavors and have been noted to alleviate dry mouth.
2. Eat small, frequent meals
Gone are the days where you could wait until late to eat, then eat a ton, and not pay for it. During the first trimester, the best way to try and keep food down is by eating small snacks or meals—slowly. Snacks with a carbohydrate and protein combination are a good choice. Saltines with nut butter are a great place to start.
3. Ginger and more ginger
Ginger in a variety of forms has been associated with alleviating nausea symptoms. You could try chewing on ginger, drinking ginger ale, drinking ginger tea or even consuming ginger root in a capsule form.
4. Low intensity exercise
The benefits of exercising during pregnancy are well understood—and it's possible that it can help with your nausea too! Taking a walk or going for a swim are both effective ways to help manage your symptoms.
5. Talk to your doctor or midwife
If you're experiencing severe nausea and vomiting, which is known as hyperemesis gravidarum, then you need to get medical help right away. Because you're unable to obtain nutrients for yourself and your fetus, it's important to seek medical attention.
Seek medical care right away if you are losing weight, or if you've gone 24 hours without holding down any fluids.
While pregnancy nausea is generally manageable and often come and go, try to think of the bigger picture: a little one on the way.