Eating For Two
What Foods Fight Nausea During Pregnancy?
You don’t have to just suck on ginger candies all day.
If you’re trying to find what foods fight nausea during pregnancy, you’re probably in the thick of one of the least pleasant parts of being pregnant: basically feeling like you’re going to throw up for a majority of the day, whether you do or not. While it can be fun to talk about weird pregnancy cravings — everyone loves stories about how you only wanted to eat pickles or carrot cake — it’s less fun to talk about the foods that you ate because you needed to keep yourself from barfing.
Some of your favorite foods may also trigger your pregnancy nausea, so it’s a fine line to walk. Pregnancy heightens your sense of smell, and sometimes even scents that used to delight you, like the smell of your morning coffee brewing, might send you running for the toilet. If you’re dealing with nausea, you’re certainly not alone: one study estimated that 70 to 80% of pregnant people experience nausea or vomiting during pregnancy. And while it tapers off after the first trimester for many, there’s an unlucky cohort that experiences nausea all the way through the second and third trimester as well. If you’re experiencing nausea while also parenting a toddler or while dealing with other big challenges at work or at home, it can feel impossible. But while there’s no perfect cure-all, there can be a few things to eat and things to try from pregnant people who’ve been through this unpleasant journey before.
Foods that fight nausea during pregnancy
There’s both some old standby foods that you might hear recommended a lot, and some picks that you might not think of, but that have worked for at least a few pregnant people and might work for you. I asked a private Facebook group of parents who are expecting a new arrival what worked for them, and they had some suggestions:
- Ginger. This is a classic for a reason — it’s been used for centuries to help alleviate nausea. You can try ginger tea, ginger chews, or ginger candy to see if any of that helps.
- Dry crackers. When you’re having a nauseous day, you sometimes won’t believe how appetizing a few saltines can look. Keep a sleeve on your bedside table to grab as soon as you wake up if you experience morning sickness, but this is also an easy food that fights nausea during pregnancy to keep in your car or bag.
- Potato chips. “On really bad days, I found that classic Lay's potato chips would sometimes help. I found saltine crackers way too dry when I was dehydrated, but if I could stomach a few chips, it seemed to make it possible to also drink some water and then maybe eat something else,” says Lauren, who is expecting her first child in the spring. Now that she is hopefully through the worst of the nausea, she says, “I never want to eat a potato chip again.”
- Ice-cold drinks. When you’re really in the throes of nausea, even simple tap water can turn your stomach. Adding lots of ice or sipping on some ginger ale can help. You can even make yourself some popsicles out of whatever drink sounds good — ginger ale, sprite, or lemonade — to help yourself stay hydrated in a more appetizing way.
- Sour candy. You might not think that sour foods would sound good, but they can be weirdly appealing. Sheyenne, who is expecting her first child in July, says sucking on lemonheads and peppermint candy were helpful for her; other parents swear by sour patch kids or “preggo pops” — slightly sour hard candy.
- Apples and peanut butter. “Apples with peanut butter helped when I was feeling gross and knew I needed to eat something,” says Natalie, who is due in the summer.
- Nothing. For some people, there just isn’t any food that sounds good. Laura, who is due with her first child in April, says that the answer for what food fought nausea during pregnancy was “nothing,” but that the most palatable thing to eat was fruit.
Other ways to fight nausea during pregnancy
While food can be helpful, sometimes putting anything in your stomach sounds terrible. A few other things to try:
- Sleep. Sure, it can be tough to fit naps into a busy schedule, but feeling exhausted often exacerbates your nausea. Aim to get a good night’s sleep and to prioritize naps whenever possible when you’re feeling crummy.
- Fresh air and light exercise. Fresh air, particularly when it’s a little chilly out, can help you shake off the blah feeling. But don’t push yourself to do a hard-core workout, and if you feel worse, stop.
- Sea bands. Sea bands, so called because they’re supposed to help with seasickness, can help by applying light pressure to a point on the wrist that can alleviate some nausea. Some people swear by them — for others, they’re not any more helpful than a bracelet.
- Prescription medication. If your nausea or vomiting is debilitating and interfering with your life, talk to your doctor. Prescription medication like Zofran can help provide relief. Just because some degree of nausea is “normal” doesn’t mean that you have to live with agony.
We can hope that one day medical science will find a perfect cure for nausea during pregnancy, but in the meantime, it might take some trial and error to find out what helps get you through this difficult season.