Unsurprisingly, conventional wisdom has proved to be nothing but a big, giant idiot as far as dealing with nausea during pregnancy is concerned. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to me- when they say every body is different they really aren’t lying. You probably should experiment with what works for you, but here’s what worked for me. Full disclosure, I’ve been really lucky with morning sickness so far. No actual vomiting yet, just nausea for a short period every day or so and it has never lasted for more than 4-5 hours. On the off chance that what I’ve been doing is helping I thought I would put it out there.

  1. Mindful eating. Eat verrry slowly, take a few bites of food and WAIT. Put your food away and freaking wait.  And then wait some more.  I figured this out the hard way. The thought of eating something would feel fine. After years of dieting, I have gotten into the bad habit of eating very fast – you know, stuff it all in, before the food gets taken away.  I would pick up my fork and plow into it and before I know it I’ve finished what’s on my plate. Except very often food that seemed like it would fine was most certainly not fine.  I would be nauseous for an hour or two until the food left my belly. I found that I needed to re-establish at every meal what was going to be okay to eat.
  2. Eat often… or not. Some days I need to eat every two hours otherwise I feel sick. Other days I need to stay the hell away from food otherwise I feel sick.  For example, yesterday and the day before I wanted to do nothing but eat, and I did. Last night I ate dinner around 8pm, went to sleep at 10 and woke up this morning at noon. Yeah, you read that right 12 hours – we’ll get to that. Anyway, I just ate at 2:30. Every time I told myself I should eat I couldn’t think of anything that sounded good. This is a little difficult to implement because I never know if I’m in the eat regularly or not-so-regularly days. If I happen to be in the eat regularly day, and go a few hours without food, I’m fucked and vice versa.  I basically do a mental scan of all the things I could eat and if nothing sounds good, I just let it go.  Usually this works, but I have gotten it wrong sometimes.
  3. Sleep. If I don’t get enough sleep my stomach is off. This has always been true, pregnancy or not. It took me a long time to realize that I need more sleep now. I would spend an hour or two nodding off on the couch, then go to bed, only to feel completely refreshed since I had just had a two hour nap on the couch. I’d then stay up for a few hours and only get 4-5 hours of continuous sleep. Bad, very bad for nausea. I started getting up to bed by 9:30 (yes, I know I can’t believe it either). I read, I fall asleep and sleep for a solid 7-8 hours. Voila, no nausea the next day.
  4. Go back home.  No, not literally.  This is probably especially applicable to those of you who are living  in a cultural setting different from one that you grew up in.  I’ve been craving the foods that I remember eating when I was sick as a child – Daal, khichdi, plain chapattis – and they really seem to settle my stomach.  They are even more comforting when I eat a meal the way I remember it from childhood.  In India, we eat with our hands and just the act of sitting down with a plate of khichdi and dahi, and eating it with my hands instead of a fork makes me feel better.   Probably more mental than anything, but given the raging hormones and my mental state, that’s half the battle.
  5. Ignore everything I’ve said.  No, really – you have to forget what people say and experiment to see what works for you.  I have this stupid habit of thinking that if I just try something long enough it will work for me.   So I went through an entire box of saltines before I realized it did not work.  Same with ginger ale.  I have never had anything make me more sick than crackers and ginger ale.  Sure, it stopped the nausea for a bit but would give me raging heartburn.  I snack on string cheese, fruit, nuts, flavored seltzer water.  Keep reminding yourself that you know what works for you better than anyone else.

So, there you have it.  My recipe for dealing with morning sickness.  If there’s a common thread through all this it’s listen to your body.  I found that once I started paying attention and doing the things that I needed instead of trying to make some old wives tales work for me, things got a lot better.

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