Nausea and vomiting are a reality for up to 90 percent of all pregnant women. For most women morning sickness is limited to the first trimester but for one in 10 women symptoms can last a lot longer. One in 200 women experience hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) a severe form of morning sickness that can negatively affect the health of both mother and child.
Morning sickness can usually be managed by avoiding certain foods, eating small meals, snacking on crackers or dry toast and drinking ginger tea or ginger ale. Some women find relief by taking a specific over-the-counter antihistamine and/or vitamin B6.
All antihistamines are not equally effective when it comes to morning sickness relief. While research suggests that most antihistamines are safe to use during pregnancy, it’s a good idea to discuss the use and dosage of any over-the-counter medication with your doctor before taking it. The antihistamine generally recommended to ease morning sickness is doxylamine, which was originally marketed for nighttime allergy relief. Multiple studies found it to be a safe treatment for morning sickness.
Doctors also occasionally suggest adding pyridoxine or vitamin B6. Multiple studies have found that taking vitamin B6 for morning sickness safely improves symptoms. A typical dose is 10mg to 25mg three times a day.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) “taking Vitamin B6 or Vitamin B6 plus doxylamine is safe and effective and should be considered a first-line treatment.” Their findings were reviewed and confirmed by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Because both remedies safely relieve morning sickness, the Food and Drug Administration approved a drug under the brand name of Diclegis, which combined 10 mg of pyridoxine and 10 mg of doxylamine in each tablet. It is currently the only FDA-approved drug to treat pregnancy nausea on the market.
While morning sickness is usually a self-limited condition and one that can be managed with lifestyle changes, there are some symptoms that you should report to your doctor.
Your nausea or vomiting is severe.
- Morning sickness lasts beyond the first trimester.
- You can’t keep down liquids.
- You vomit blood.
- You feel dizzy or faint.
- Your heart races.
- Your urine is scant and dark.
Once you’ve discussed morning sickness relief with your doctor, you can buy vitamin B6 and doxylamine over the counter or ask your doctor for a prescription for the drug that combines both. Note that antihistamines can make you drowsy, so avoid taking them in situations where you have to be alert.