I think all women who have ever experienced morning sickness would agree when I say that whoever named the nausea of the first trimester “morning sickness” clearly never had it. Although, if it were labeled “all day sickness” some of us might have been scared away from ever being pregnant in the first place. I suppose confining it to a nice, little, manageable part of the day makes it a bit less intimidating. I really struggle through the first trimester, and if I hadn’t been so determined to give our oldest daughter siblings, we would have one kid right now, and the amount of time I spent hovering over the toilet those first four months would be to blame. However, I did suffer power through, and over the course of five pregnancies I picked up enough tips that by the fifth, my toilet hovering was minimal. Here are a few of my absolute must-do’s during the first trimester that have helped ease my nausea. Let me know if any of these have helped you as well, or any additions you might add to this list!

Epsom salt bath

I’m going to start with this one because it’s never on lists of things to do to help with morning sickness, but this is something my midwife recommended to me my third pregnancy. I wasn’t sure if it was a placebo she was tossing my way to keep me distracted or not, but I decided if there was even the smallest chance that it could help, I was willing to try it. The reasoning behind it has to do with a magnesium deficiency, and I actually think it does help. I keep an embarrassingly detailed journal of all my pregnancies, and on the weeks I regularly took baths in epsom salt, I’ve noticed I was less sick. Every single time for 3 pregnancies. Coincidence? Maybe, but there’s absolutely nothing to lose soaking in a tub. I normally follow the directions on the bag for the amount of salts to use and then dump in a little extra and then stay in at least 20-30 minutes.

NEVER let yourself get hungry

This should be extremely obvious, but it was apparently really hard for me to comprehend. The very earliest feeling that hits before the nausea of no return is hunger. For me it’s hunger so fast and so bad I don’t even realize it’s hunger, instead I assume it’s a need to throw up. When I realized this feeling began with hunger (around pregnancy number 3) I realized I could avoid the worst of the sickness by eating sooner rather than later; normally about every hour and a half. HOWEVER…

Protein is Important!

…this did not include a few crackers and ginger ale. I would eat roll after roll of ritz crackers to fend off the sickness only to hate ritz crackers and still feel empty and sick. By pregnancy number 4, I realized protein was a pretty important key, partly because protein helps you feel full longer and partially due to other nutrients our bodies need that are in protein rich foods. I ate all forms of non meat protein with my 4th, and it really seemed to help, but what I really discovered the fifth was that there is a HUGE difference between meat protein and non meat protein. Cheese, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, vegan protein shakes, milk, and eggs all helped me not feel horribly sick, but steak, hamburger, and sometimes chicken could actually make me feel “normal” and stable. It was a huge revelation, and I’ve happily eaten way more cheeseburgers without the bun the past 6 months than I have in the past 6 years.

Lemon and Peppermint Everything

During one of my very first appointments of my first pregnancy I asked the doctor what I could do about my incredibly oversensitive gag reflex; how was I supposed to brush my teeth if my toothbrush was always gagging me? Her advice was to laugh and tell me to just not brush my teeth, obviously. I ended up finding a new doctor (not just because of the bad oral hygiene advice.) It’s a difficult problem when just seeing a hair on the table can make you actively gag in the middle of a meal. The nausea can at least be felt and planned around, but there’s not much you can do about an unpredictable gag reflex. Then I discovered the magic of lemon and peppermint. Unfortunately, I think part of the gag reflex is mental and tends (for me) to be egged on by smells. And stray hairs *ughggg*. Sucking on a lemon drop or peppermint altoid (STRONG mint flavor with real peppermint in the ingredients) and using lemon or peppermint essential oil (*in this necklace I was gifted a few Christmas’ ago) to smell in lieu of any unpleasant odors helped avoid many moments of being sick. I diffuse peppermint throughout the house and add lemon to my drinking water: everything is peppermint or lemon during those first few months.

Carbonated Water

Burping always helps–an unfortunate reality. When my go to fizzy drink was soda pop, though, I felt like I was limited because of the caffeine and sugar. Then I discovered carbonated water; any brand, any flavor does the trick. You get the satisfaction of the bubbles going down, bubbles coming up, and you can drink it all day and all evening without the consequences of too much caffeine or sugar.

Cut Sugar

Somehow milkshakes always sound good when I’m in the first trimester, but for some reason the sugar never settles well. I’ve actually discovered I feel much better when I avoid sugar as much as possible. About half an hour after eating protein I always feel good, but half an hour after sugar I would feel worse. It’s really a win-win because keeping your blood sugar levels within a safe range is also important during pregnancy, and less sugar can help slow weight gain.


The last tip that really doesn’t even sound like a tip is to get plenty of sleep. I’ve had pregnancies with young toddlers (less than 2 years old) who don’t sleep through the night, which means I don’t sleep through the night. It’s a world of difference when I’m sleeping a full 8-10 hours a night + a nap whenever possible! I know this isn’t always possible, but it helps so much it’s worth giving up anything else to get even one extra hour of sleep.

I remember spending so much time googling “ways to help nausea…” and “is it normal to….” throughout my first couple pregnancies; I felt like there had to be more help related to morning sickness. But, until there’s a magic pill to take away the constant nausea (other than the sleep inducing nausea suppositories I took during my first pregnancy) the best we can do is share tips and tricks with each other, and remember it will all be worth it in just a few short months!

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