The Real Truth about Morning Sickness

by Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway

morning sicknessIn my quest to help "moms-to-be," a recurring question emerges: "How do I get rid of morning sickness?" Although the Internet is rampant with well intended but "incorrect" replies, the correct answers have finally arrived.

So, you're retching, gagging, vomiting and plain miserable. Sound familiar? Well, you're not alone. Approximately 50 to 90 percent of pregnant women have experienced these symptoms at least once during their pregnancy but believe it or not, it eventually stops. Listed below are some strategies for giving you some relief.

Step one:

  • Avoid triggers such as spicy foods, fried food, and offensive odors.
  • Eat frequent light meals high in carbohydrates and low in fats. Also, try to avoid having a completely empty stomach. The stomach produces acid and when empty aggravates the problem.
  • Eat dry toast or crackers before getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Try the BRATT Diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast and tea)
  • Cold fluids are tolerated better than hot.

No relief? Try Step Two:

  • Medical studies show that ginger is quite effective. Ginger tea, candy and lollipops might alleviate the problem. Some of my patients have used ginger with good results.
  • Vitamin B6 25 mg three times a day has been helpful for nausea but not as effective for vomiting.
  • Take prenatal vitamins at night before going to bed.

Still miserable? Proceed to Step Three. Ask your OB practitioner for drugs (the legal ones of course). Here are the ones most commonly prescribed:

  • Phenergan® or Promethazine is usually the first line of defense. It may be given orally although most physicians prescribe the rectal suppositories if the patient cannot tolerate oral food or medication.
  • Reglan® or Metoclopramide helps empty the stomach quickly and is taken every eight hours, but only as needed
  • Zofran ODT® or Ondansetron is a rising star. It is usually given to patients receiving chemotherapy but in the past five years has become very popular in treatment of morning sickness. It provides the greatest relief for most of my patients but it's not cheap. However, if you shop around, you can usually find bargains with the generic brand.

Remember that most symptoms usually subside by the middle of your second trimester so try to hang in there.

"This too shall pass."

Linda Burke-Galloway, M.D., descended from two 19th-century midwives, is a board-certified ob-gyn and author of The Smart Mother's Guide to a Better Pregnancy: How to Minimize Risks, Avoid Complications, and Have a Healthy Baby. Dr. Burke-Galloway graduated from Boston University School of Medicine in 1987. She did her ob-gyn residency training at Harlem Hospital, a Columbia University teaching hospital.

Dr. Burke-Galloway's passion for babies inspired her to provide quality healthcare to medically underserved women, many of whom had high-risk problems. She is an expert in recognizing and managing obstetrical risks before they spin out of control and has prevented potential disasters for both mothers and their unborn babies. Dr. Burke-Galloway is also a medical malpractice consultant for the federal government.

Read more from Dr. Burke-Galloway at her blog.