Anyone who has ever experienced morning sickness would probably agree that “morning sickness” is a really, really stupid term for one simple reason: it doesn’t just take place in the morning. It happens all day long. And while some people only experience those unpleasant bouts of nausea (and in some cases, vomiting) throughout the first trimester, others deal with it during the entire pregnancy.
“Morning sickness” affects more than 50% of pregnant women, according to the American Pregnancy Association, and it's caused by increased hormone levels and low blood sugar. Unfortunately, there’s no universal cure to nausea associated with pregnancy — although there are many tips that the APA recommends, including drinking fluids throughout the day, get plenty of rest, and to avoid spicy foods.
Personally speaking, I felt nauseous basically 24/7 throughout the first three months of my pregnancy. I never threw up, although I constantly felt like I was on the brink of vomiting, which somehow almost felt worse. I tried every “trick” to get rid of my nausea — ginger, peppermint, even eating something sour (ick). But for me, the only thing that helped was carbs. And not just any carbs, but a particular breakfast staple: bagels and cream cheese.
Where science is concerned, this isn’t too surprising. Complex carbohydrates — like the ones found in breads, cereal, and pasta — are often touted as a solid remedy for nausea. Part of the rationale is that these foods are easy for your body to digest, and they can also simultaneously give you a burst of energy. Medical professionals also recommend eating carbs first thing in the morning, because an empty stomach is a recipe for even more nausea.
With that in mind, I figured my experience couldn’t be that unique. And it turns out that I was right; a quick scroll through any pregnancy message board will yield dozens and dozens of posts from women about how carbs are the only thing making their morning sickness feel remotely manageable. And when I talked to a few pregnant women IRL, they told me the exact same thing.
My friend Elle, who is 15 weeks pregnant, told me that the only thing that helps curb her nausea is grilled cheese. “Or mashed potatoes,” she adds, noting that they need to be plain mashed potatoes — not with any gravy. My friend Jen, who is heading into her third trimester, remembers only wanting toast during the first three months. “With butter or margarine,” she clarifies. And Hanna, who is just 8 weeks, says the only thing that makes her feel remotely normal is croissants — or plain, white bread.
The bottom line? If you’re experiencing morning sickness, it’s a good idea to try a multitude of strategies to find what works for you. While some women swear by ginger or salty chips, others find that those products make their nausea worse. And while carbs were the answer for myself and several others, that might not work for everyone either. Take some time to chat with your doctor, explore all the options, and find your own magic potion. It might not make your nausea go away altogether — but if it helps make you feel even a little better, it’s definitely worth it.