By Katherine Rowe, LAc
A new large study came out this month in the medical journal Birth showing that pregnant women who received acupuncture for nausea in the first trimester had significant improvements in the their symptoms. Dr. Caroline Smith from Australia who led the research commented that the women functioned much better both physically and emotionally after even as little as one acupuncture session. It is always exciting when modern science can validate what we do as acupuncturists. And while morning sickness isn’t a disease, its temporary impact on a woman’s life can be very difficult to endure so it is nice to have safe and effective options.
Perhaps it’s your first pregnancy and you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed by the unexpected and relentless nausea. Maybe it’s your second or third pregnancy and you have to rise and shine every morning to prepare breakfast, lunch and snacks for your child no matter how nauseated or tired you are. Or maybe you have a job that requires you to be face to face with people all day and you cannot afford to vomit or pass out during those meetings. While the experience of morning sickness is very individual, the one thing every woman has in common is the ability to endure the nausea. Sure it’s one thing to feel queasy after a meal but it’s entirely another to feel queasy or vomit for 8+ weeks without a break. This is why we stay busy treating pregnancy related nausea with acupuncture in our clinic.
Yes there are medications to control nausea but unless you are vomiting daily, the side effects of these drugs (tiredness and constipation) can often make you feel even worse. After many years of treating morning sickness, here are the most effective remedies that I’ve found:
1) Acupuncture. Acupuncture works for nausea – it’s been a reliable cure for morning sickness for 2,500 years. Countless research publications have proven in our modern day that acupuncture is an effective solution for nausea. Most of my patients feel better after the first treatment and continue to come back as the effects wear off. Some come twice a week and some just come once a week for 4-8 weeks depending on the severity of their nausea.
2) Extra Vitamin B6. 50mg twice/day for a total of 100mg/day. If that doesn’t help then try combining the evening dose of B6 with a ½ or whole Unisom tablet.
3) Ginger tea. It must be raw ginger for this to have the necessary effect. Simply slice off 3 or so pieces of raw ginger and boil them in a pot of water for 20 minutes. Drink the tea warm or room temperature.
4) Relax your diet. Most women find that bitter foods like veggies and heavy proteins such as meat are off the menu when the nausea strikes. Don’t worry about simplifying your diet while you’re nauseated but do try to stay away from lots of sugar. A simple broth-based potato soup that you can have small bowls of throughout the day can be wonderful and filling. Baked or mashed potatoes can also save the day.
5) Rest. Last but most important – get extra rest. Most of the women I see for the first treatment are frustrated that they are tired and can’t keep up with their regular routine. Feeling tired is normal and doesn’t need to be treated – you are making an entire human being and another organ with which to feed the new human being for close to a year. The more sleep you get, the better you’ll feel. Napping is encouraged!