Female symbol with fruits and vegetables

Nutrition and wellness for women before, during and after pregnancy.


10 Tips for Fighting Nausea in the First Trimester

Pregnant woman experiencing nausea



Sorry, I just thought about how I felt brushing my teeth while pregnant. 


If you have ever experienced nausea & vomiting during your first trimester of pregnancy, you likely know what I am talking about. It’s estimated that up to 70% of women experience nausea & vomiting during pregnancy (1), commonly referred to as morning sickness. 


On a side note, I’m not sure who we need to petition, but can we please change the term “morning sickness” to “all day sickness” instead? Way more accurate! 


What causes morning sickness? 

Yes, we’ve put a man on the moon but aren’t quite sure what causes morning sickness. However, the likely culprits are changes in blood sugar and hormonal surges in the first trimester. 


What increases your chances of having it?

Most of this is out of your control, however, certain factors do increase your odds of having morning sickness during pregnancy:

  • Being pregnant with multiples 
  • Previous pregnancy with nausea & vomiting 
  • Genetics (your biological female relatives experienced it)
  • Being pregnant with a girl


Whether it’s brushing your teeth, the smell of meat, or sitting in a car, here are 10 tips (based on research) for fighting nausea in the first trimester:

1. Eat small, frequent meals & snacks

    • Instead of the traditional 3 big meals/day, try eating every 2-3 hours but in smaller amounts. 
    • This can be tricky at potlucks or parties because you will hear “you need to eat more, you’re eating for 2!” (insert eye roll)
    • Avoid beverages with meals– drink fluids 30-60 minutes before or after eating if possible.  Hydration is still very important during pregnancy, so aim for 8-12 cups of non-caffeinated fluids per day. 

2.  Keep blood sugar balanced, but don’t obsess or carb count

    • Keep protein and fat in every meal and snack. This does not mean you can’t eat carbs! Just make sure you aren’t eating only carbs (especially those high in sugar and low in fiber) at meal/snack times. 
    • By adding protein and fat to carbs at each meal/snack, you will avoid a crash after a high blood sugar spike, which can contribute to the feeling of nausea. 
    • If you are a person with diabetes, your healthcare provider or certified diabetes educator will likely give you more individualized instructions about carbohydrate intake during pregnancy.


3. Cold food

    • Cold foods can be easier to tolerate than cooked foods (and their smell especially). Here are some good cold food options that contain carbs, fat, and protein:
      • Greek yogurt 
      • Cottage Cheese & crackers 
      • Sandwiches: PB & J, Hummus & Cucumber,  Egg or Tuna Salad


4. Salty food

    • Salty food often helps as well, and during pregnancy, your electrolyte needs go up (sodium=electrolyte). If you are craving salt, your body likely needs more sodium. Here are some nutrient-dense options:
      • Olives 
      • Corn Tortilla Chips
      • Salted nuts/seeds


5. Sour food

    • The acidity in sour foods can help quell nausea also. Some good sour food choices include:
      • Pickles & pickled foods 
      • Lemon juice (add to water, squeeze onto cooked dishes)
      • Tart dried cherries


6. Keep snacks on your nightstand

    • Eat before you step out of bed, even if nausea pops up later in the day.
    • This also helps if you wake up in the middle of the night starving.


7. Ginger/Magnesium/Vitamin B6

  • Ginger has long been known to improve nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (2). There are many ways to add ginger to your diet, including: 
      • Ginger tea
      • Gingersnap cookies (paired with a protein/fat source)
      • Ginger candies


  • Magnesium is lacking in most diets, due to stress and environmental factors. Here are some ways to up your game with magnesium:  
    • Pumpkin seeds
    • Dry roasted almonds & cashews
    • Dark Chocolate
    • Epsom salt baths 
    • Supplement (Magnesium Glycinate)


  • Vitamin B6 has also been studied for its effectiveness in relieving nausea during pregnancy.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has stated that taking Vitamin B6 is a safe treatment method for nausea & vomiting. Ask your healthcare provider about the dosage recommended before you start taking any new supplements. 


8. Prioritize rest

    • It’s possible that being overtired can make nausea even worse for pregnant women. Rest is important even if you aren’t experiencing nausea, since you are GROWING A HUMAN BEING. 
    • You don’t need a picture-perfect scenario (hammock on the beach anyone?) to take a nap. Sneak them in wherever you can!
    • If you aren’t getting at least 7 hours of sleep regularly, try going to bed 2 hours earlier for 1-2 weeks, and see if it improves your nausea.


9. Don’t compare yourself to others (or your previous pregnancy)

  • You don’t have to “tough it out” or follow any other advice you may have heard from others about how difficult it can be to deal with nausea. 
    • Every woman experiences each pregnancy differently. 
    • Nobody understands the degree of nausea you are experiencing but you.
    • Most women find nausea decreases (but doesn’t always disappear) around 14 weeks (3). 


10. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for medication

    • Trying the above recommendations is a good place to start- but with anything, if you aren’t finding success after a few weeks, nausea medication (antiemetics) may be necessary.
    • As with any medication, ask questions in advance, such as: 
      • What are the side effects (for both you and baby)?
      • What is the lowest dosage you can start with? 
      • How long should you expect to need the medication? 
    • By getting these answers, you can weigh the benefits vs. risks for you in combating nausea. 


What if you have severe nausea and vomiting? 

You could have a very serious condition called hyperemesis gravidarum if you are experiencing any of the following while pregnant: 

  • Vomiting more than 3 times/day
  • Losing weight (over 5 pounds)
  • Show signs of dehydration, such as:
    • Dark yellow urine and very little urine output
    • Dizzy or faint while standing
    • Racing heartbeat


If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider right away. 


Alternative therapies for nausea in pregnancy include acupuncture, aromatherapy with peppermint essential oils, and chamomile (to name a few). At this time, more research is needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of these treatments. 


Don’t let nausea deprive you of that special pregnancy joy. By trying some of the tips provided above, hopefully, you will find some relief and start feeling better soon!


Check out my sample 2-day meal plan for nausea during pregnancy!


Share this post:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Related Posts

Allison Stock photo

Allison Stock, RD/N

creator of the FRUITFUL FEMALE

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for women in preconception, pregnancy and postpartum.

Popular Posts
Stay in the Know
FREE 2 Day Sample Meal Plan for Nausea During Pregnancy