Nausea during pregnancy
Nausea during pregnancy is often dismissed as a minor disorder of pregnancy. As
it can be compared to the experience of having persistent food poisoning it is not
something that one would volunteer to endure for 12 to 16 weeks. As nausea is estimated
to affect one third of all pregnancies it is worth considering the alternatives.
In traditional Chinese medicine, although the nausea associated with pregnancy can
arise from a variety of conditions, these all involve the stomach’s energy. If pregnancy
interferes it affects not only the process of digestion but also the stomach’s energetic
nature of aiding the movement of food downward through the digestive tract. Strong
upward rebellious energy or a weakness in this down bearing function results in
the nausea and vomiting.
While acupuncture treatment is aimed at strengthening the energetic function of
the stomach and correcting any underlying disharmonies, dietary advice is directed
at reducing the energetic workload of the digestive system.
To get the most out of treatment, it is essential to be kind to your body. During
the nausea thinking of food may not exactly be a priority but it will help to follow
the following guidelines;
It is essential that you do not become dehydrated. While it may not appear that
drinking relives the nausea, becoming even slightly dehydrated will make the nausea
more intense. Dry lips, feeling thirsty and a reduced urinary output are signs that
your fluid intake is inadequate.
If your urine output decreases to only once a day you need to let your doctor or
Once dehydration affects your electrolyte balance past a certain point the best
option may be intravenous re-hydration in a hospital. If you are finding it difficult
to drink fluids, concentrate on having small amounts frequently. Try soups (potato
soup can be useful as it is very bland) or warm teas. Ginger tea or peppermint tea
are often helpful. If burping makes you feel better a carbonated drink may help
settle the nausea.
Have small regular snacks, this will help keep you blood sugar levels stable.
This means eating a small snack at least every 1 ½ to 2 hours, before that empty,
hungry feeling sets in. The snack can be very small, a few raisins or nuts (almonds
are often useful), ½ of a sandwich, ¼ of a piece of fruit. It’s a delicate balance
as to exactly how much you feel comfortable eating as overeating will also intensify
the nausea. Avoid sugary foods that will quickly elevate your blood sugar levels;
chocolate, cakes, pastries and orange juice, for example and instead consuming the
slower releasing carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes.
You may find it helpful to have a snack that is high in protein (nuts, yoghurt)
before going to bed and a carbohydrate- based snack (toast, crackers) on waking.
Listen to your body.
Certain foods will defiantly make you feel worse. Foods that worked for you friends
or mother in law may have different effects for you. If you experience phlegm in
your throat, or consent saliva build up, try avoiding dairy products, especially
milk and cheese. If you are feeling cold and tired, focus on warm drinks and soups.
Rest will definitely be beneficial, although temping the “superwomen ideal” is not
always based in reality, respect the changes that your body is going through. If
possible arrange some down time for that time of day when you are most prone to
feeling nauseous, perhaps starting work an hour later or arranging some extra childcare
for a few weeks.
If it works for you
This is not an "absolutely recommended" list - rather feedback from women who found
the following helpful.
Apple cider vinegar (1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar- fill cup with boiling water – add
honey to taste), chamomile tea, ginger ale, ginger tea (grate a piece of root ginger
the size of a 50 cent piece, seep in boiling water for 10 minutes – add honey to
taste. Do not exceed 3 cups per day), mineral water with lemon juice, peppermint
tea, potato soup, umeboshi plum tea (half a tsp of paste stirred into a cup of boiling
water- honey to taste).
Almonds, baby rice, crackers, dried fruit (especially apricots and raisins), egg
sandwiches, grapefruit, Marmite, noodles, pasta, peaches, pears, peppermints, potatoes
or kumara (in any form - baked, mashed, as chips), supermarket baby food, Vegemite,
white bread, yoghurt (acidophilus).
It might be helpful to consider the type of food that is suitable for an eight-month-old
baby; baked vegetables, cooked and raw fruits, well-cooked grains, broths and gravies,
as these are easy to digest and gentle on your stomach.
Take advantage of a heightened sense of smell by having an oil burner in your bedroom
or in the kitchen. Try using peppermint or vanilla essence.
Pressure points for nausea during pregnancy
Using pressure points may be helpful. Try all three to find the ones that are the
most suitable for you. Place firm pressure on the point for several minutes. If
useful, continue to apply pressure every two hours, or during the nausea, for approximately
This point is three of the woman’s finger widths above the transverse crease of
the inner wrist. It lies directly between the two tendons felt there. It is possible
to buy wristbands to apply pressure to this point, available through chemists called
This point is situated in the depression on the lower border of the clavicle (collar
bone), two of the woman’s thumb widths from the centre the sternum (breast bone).
This point is situated one of the woman’s thumb widths below the medial malleous
(the protruding bone on the inside of the ankle).
- Original illustrations
- Sourced illustrations
Reproduced with permission from A Manual of Acupuncture, Peter Deadman and Mazin