Pregnancy nausea and vomiting, more commonly known as morning sickness, can strike at any time of day. Some women experience fairly mild nausea that may be exacerbated by fatigue or an empty stomach, while other women experience more severe symptoms. Morning sickness is most common in the first trimester, although some women may experience nausea throughout their pregnancy. Food and smell aversions are also common in women experiencing nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.
In rare, very severe cases, pregnancy nausea and vomiting may be diagnosed as hyperemesis gravidarum if nausea and vomiting is so severe that a woman becomes dehydrated or loses more than 5% of her pre-pregnancy weight.
Acupuncture is a very effective and safe treatment for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Here are some measures that you can take at home to relieve symptoms:
ACUPRESSURE FOR NAUSEA & VOMITING
“Inner Pass” / Pericardium 6
This point is useful for nausea and vomiting from any cause. As an added bonus, it helps to calm stress and anxiety, so it is a fantastic point to use during the first trimester.
To locate PC6, look at the inside of your wrist and make a fist. You will see two tendons pop up when you do this (the point is called “Inner Pass” because it is located between these tendons). Place the middle three fingers of your other hand as below in the picture, so that your ring finger lines up with the crease of your wrist. PC6 is located directly underneath your pointer finger, between the two tendons.
Press here for 30 seconds, or for more continuous stimulation, use Sea Bands with the white pressure button directly over this point. Sea Bands can be purchased at Yinova, online, or at your local pharmacy.
If acupressure on PC6 does not sufficiently alleviate your nausea and vomiting, you may try the following two points as well:
“Shu Mansion” / Kidney 27
This point is useful specifically for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.
To locate KD27, stand in front of a mirror. Place the middle three fingers of your hand along the bottom of your collarbone as shown below so that your pointer finger is at the hollow of the collarbone at the base of the throat. KD27 is located approximately under your ring finger, feel around to find the most achey or tender spot here, and apply acupressure to this point with your fingers for 30 seconds or with acupressure magnets (available at Yinova) for more continuous stimulation.
“Shining Sea” / Kidney 6
This point is used with KD27 for more severe symptoms associated with morning sickness
To locate KD6, look on the inside of your ankle. The point is located in the small depression directly under the ankle bone. Apply acupressure to this point with your fingers for 30 seconds or with acupressure magnets (available at Yinova) for more continuous stimulation.
Here are a couple of simple herbal teas that you can try for morning sickness. If your nausea and vomiting is severe and does not respond to these basic remedies, please contact your practitioner to discuss an herbal formula to address your symptoms.
- Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang): steep 3-4 thin slices of peeled fresh ginger root in boiling water for 10-15 minutes. You may allow to cool to room temperature before drinking if hot beverages aggravate your nausea.
- Shiso Leaf (Zi Su Ye): steep a teaspoon of perilla leaves in 8oz of boiling water for 3-5 minutes.
- Prenatal Vitamin: some women find that their prenatal vitamin aggravates their morning sickness. If this is the case, try playing around with timing: for some people, it is easier to tolerate taking their prenatal directly before bed so that they sleep through the worst nausea, and others find they it is less aggravating to take it in the morning.
- Vitamin B6: can help with pregnancy nausea. A typical dose is 10-25mg 3x per day. Be sure not to exceed 100mg per day (see how much is already in your prenatal). If nausea is severe, you can discuss taking a combination of B6 and Unisom (doxylamine) with your OB, as this combination may be useful for more severe symptoms.
- Topical Magnesium: magnesium supplements tend to be quite large and difficult to swallow for women who have morning sickness. At the same time, magnesium deficiency may play a role in morning sickness, including hyperemesis gravidarum. Topical magnesium oil spray is a great way to supplement your magnesium without needing to take a pill. Follow the dosing instructions on the bottle, usually 2-3 sprays 3 times per day. You can also soak in a warm (not hot) bath with epsom salts a few times a week.
- Salty, sweet, sour, or bland flavors: Just as every pregnancy is different, everyone’s morning sickness is different. Some women find that bland flavors settle their stomach, while others find that salty, sweet, or sour flavors are more useful. If you find that sour or sweet flavors settle your stomach, Preggie Pop drops can be useful to have on hand.
- Lemon essential oil: Lemon essential oil has been shown to be useful in relieving nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Place a few drops on a cotton ball, store it in a plastic ziplock bag, and carry it around with you. Open the bag and take a few deep breaths when feeling nauseated.
(1) F. Teksen, F. Dökmeci, G. Kavas, P. Ar. (2001). Copper, zinc and magnesium status in hyperemesis gravidarum. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 21(1), 46–48. doi: 10.1080/01443610020022113
(2) Kia, P. Y., Safajou, F., Shahnazi, M., & Nazemiyeh, H. (2014). The Effect of Lemon Inhalation Aromatherapy on Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy: A Double-Blinded, Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, 16(3). doi: 10.5812/ircmj.14360