As a pregnant woman, you might be reading up on certain foods to consume during pregnancy to ensure that you are obtaining all the nutrients that are necessary for the healthy development of your baby. At the same time, you might also be feeling terrible about not accomplishing this goal of nourishing your baby due to the food aversion, loss of appetite, and nausea that occurs during pregnancy.  

These nausea and vomiting are commonly known as “morning sickness” even though it typically happens any time of the day. You are definitely not alone if you are going through this. It is a common pregnancy experience that approximately 70 to 80 percent of women encounter. Most women experience nausea just during their first trimester although in some cases, it could last longer. By the end of the first trimester, about 60 percent of cases are resolved. 

What causes nausea during pregnancy? 

Researchers are still not entirely sure what the exact driving force behind this physiological phenomenon is but there are a few compelling theories. One theory points to hormonal factors, specifically that of the placenta, an temporary organ that forms during pregnancy that sustains the growth of the baby. There has been a positive association between the elevated production of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone produced by the placenta and the severity of nausea and vomiting. This hCG may prompt the ovaries to produce more estrogen, and increased estrogen levels are linked to morning sickness symptoms. Additionally, vitamin B deficiency is another potential contributor. 

Even though there is no such thing as a fool-proof hack or an absolute preventive action, we have compiled five nutritional tips that may help alleviate your nausea during the first trimester (or really anytime of your pregnancy).

Tip #1: Vitamin B6 consumption

As being deficient in Vitamin B is considered to be one of the risk factors, consuming adequate amounts of vitamin B6 is said to be effective against the incidence of pregnancy nausea and vomiting. Data from randomized trials found an association between vitamin B6 and alleviation of morning sickness. One multivitamin trial found that women who took multivitamins containing vitamin B6 were far less likely to experience nausea and vomiting compared to the placebo group. Furthermore, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends taking a combination of vitamin B6 and doxylamine, as this has been linked to a 70 percent decrease in morning sickness. 

Although taking supplements is one way to ensure adequate vitamin B6 intake, there are foods that you can consume that are rich in this nutrient. These include fish (especially tuna and salmon), organ meats like beef liver, chickpeas, potatoes, poultry, bananas and dark leafy greens such as spinach.   

Tip #2: Magnesium consumption

Since symptoms of magnesium deficiency include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and fatigue, sufficient magnesium intake may ease your morning sickness symptoms. Magnesium deficiency is common in the United States as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) of 2013–2016 found that 48 percent of Americans do not consume adequate amounts of magnesium. Magnesium plays an important role in protein synthesis, functioning of muscles and nerves, and the regulation of blood sugar and blood pressure. Other than potentially alleviating nausea, it is a crucial nutrient during pregnancy as it is shown to reduce pregnancy complications like leg cramps, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and hypertension.   

Some magnesium rich foods include pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, green leafy vegetables, cashews, peanuts, and avocados.  

Tip #3: Ginger consumption

There has not been much concrete scientific evidence on the viability or the potential harms of many herbal remedies for pregnancy complications. However, ginger has shown clinical significance in terms of management of nausea and vomiting, without much notable side effects and adverse outcomes for the fetus. In a study(randomized trial) that compared a group that took ginger supplements to the placebo group, the ginger group experienced fewer morning sickness symptoms. 

Ginger could be in the form of capsules (supplements), ginger tea from freshly grated ginger, or crystalized ginger. For best results you should stick to products that have enough actual ginger.      

Tip #4: Probiotics consumption

The “good bacteria” in our body is referred to as probiotics. Pregnancy leads to different types of hormonal changes including the increase in estrogen and progesterone levels. These hormonal changes have an impact on the gut microbiome which can contribute to digestive system-related discomfort like nausea, vomiting, upset-stomach, and constipation. Researchers have found that probiotic supplementation during pregnancy has led to an improved gastrointestinal functioning and significantly reduced nausea and vomiting. 

Common foods that probiotics are found in include yogurt, kimchi, miso, kefir, sauerkraut, natto and tempeh. Taking supplements is another option as well- the supplement that was used in the above research mainly consisted of a strain of a beneficial bacteria called Lactobacillus, and had 10 billion live cultures.  

Tip #5: Small meals throughout the day

Instead of having 2 to 3 big meals in a day, eating small frequent meals or snacks throughout the day is recommended, along with drinking fluids in between these meals.  

Morning sickness can actually get exacerbated when you have an empty stomach, so having some food in your system can ease the symptoms. Thus, neither being too hungry nor being overly full is the key.   

Having a low blood sugar level from not eating, or vomiting may lead to a vicious cycle of nauseousness, so maintaining a stable blood sugar throughout the day by having these small regular meals may mitigate the nausea triggers.  

Make sure that the foods that you are consuming are protein-rich. Protein stabilizes your blood sugar levels and a study has found that eating a protein-dominated meal led to a reduction in nauseousness compared to a meal with a different macronutrient distribution. Going with bland foods and steering away from spicy and fatty foods can make eating easier as well.   

Extra Tip: Don’t be too hard on yourself! 

Stress can make your morning sickness worse. We understand how frustrating it is to feel nauseous when all you want to do is to consume nutrient-dense food for your growing baby. It is okay if you are not able to follow the “perfect” prenatal meal plan during this time. When you are going through this state in pregnancy, if you are able to eat something…anythingーeven if it is just a piece of cracker, or a small bite of toast, you should think of it as a win! Your body is doing miracles right now and you should feel comfortable to trust the process. It is not only a temporary occurrence (91 percent of cases of nausea and vomiting are resolved by 20 weeks of gestation), but also, your baby has the ability to delve deep into your reserves to draw nutrition from you in the meantime. Hang in there!     

If you feel that the nausea and vomiting is too severe, you may have a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. It is a separate entity from the standard nausea and vomiting that gets experienced during pregnancy, and you should speak with your healthcare provider immediately if you believe that you might have this.  

Looking for more support?

Our fertility dietician Anabelle is available for one-on-one consultation and can help you address any of your concerns regarding fertility, pregnancy or hormonal imbalances like PCOS! 

Schedule your appointment today here: 


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5 Tips to Reduce Nausea in First Trimester

5 Tips to Reduce Nausea in First Trimester

5 Tips to Reduce Nausea in First Trimester