With as many as 75 to 80 percent of women experiencing some form of morning sickness with nausea and vomiting, it’s a symptom of pregnancy that obstetricians treat all the time.
Additionally, 1 percent of pregnant women experience the severe form of nausea, vomiting and associated weight loss called hyperemesis gravidarum — the extreme morning sickness Kate Middleton had during her pregnancies.
For several decades, many doctors prescribe Diclegis for their patients — the only FDA-approved prescription medication for morning sickness, according to its website. The drug is so popular that it was endorsed and promoted by Kim Kardashian in 2015.
But a newly published paper calls into question whether the drug is actually effective, causing doctors to suggest other forms of treatment.
G. Thomas Ruiz, M.D., obstetrician/gynecologist with MemorialCare Medical Group in Fountain Valley, California, said that rather than prescribing Diclegis as a first-line drug, they prefer that the obstetrical patients in the practice try nonmedical alternatives to prescription drugs first, depending upon the severity of the symptoms.
More: 5 morning sickness cures
Here are some suggestions Ruiz gives his patients for dealing with morning sickness:
1. Dry toast & crackers
For those with mild symptoms, he suggests dry toast and crackers to absorb the acid in the stomach, as well as over-the-counter syrups heavy in sugar that can have a calming effect.
2. Start grazing
Have small, frequent meals throughout the day and stay away from foods that are spicy or high in fat content.
3. Drink those fluids
To keep hydrated, instead of straight water, try flat carbonated soda (Coca-Cola and 7-Up or Sprite are popular), Gatorade, Powerade and flavored Pedialyte at room temperature. These drinks combine important fluids and electrolytes and are best taken when feeling less nauseated — ideally as soon as you wake up since the nausea seems to get worse when you’re up and moving.
4. Reach for the ginger
Many find that some form of ginger — whether in the form of tea, candy or ginger ale — helps settle the stomach.
5. Air circulation is key
Reducing exposure to heavy odors, perfume, smoking and stuffy rooms, and opening windows and turning on fans can also help minimize nausea.
6. Over-the-counter nausea treatments
For those with increasing forms of nausea, vomiting and weight loss, your obstetrician may suggest something over-the-counter like an antihistamine, wristbands for nausea and motion sickness or a measured amount of B6.
7. An IV for nutrition and medication
If those do not work, and nausea is severe through the second trimester and the health of the mother and baby appear to be at risk, women may receive nutrients intravenously (through an IV) called parenteral nutrition, as well as anti-nausea medications like Zofran or Reglan, but that is very rare.
8. Get psychological and social support
With hyperemesis, there can also be a social component. Some patients presenting with psychological issues or vulnerabilities require strong family and/or psychological support.
“Research has also shown that if you have a viable pregnancy and hyperemesis is present — provided we can make you comfortable — nonmedical treatments can be highly effective with no resulting issues or complications for the mother or baby,” Ruiz said.
Instead, hyperemesis is often a response to increased hormones in your body during the first trimester of pregnancy.
“Generally speaking, if we can help the patient get through the first three to four months of pregnancy, the nausea and related symptoms will typically subside with increasing fluid intake and improved nutrition,” he explained.