You go to your OB, desperately hoping she’ll provide you with something – anything – to help you get back on your feet (and away from the toilet). She pats you on the back, writes you a prescription, and sends you on your way.
Before you pop those pills, however, ask yourself: is that drug, scribbled in your doctor’s barely decipherable script, safe for you and your baby?
That’s the million dollar question of moms who are in misery during the first trimester. I certainly weighed the risks and benefits during both of my pregnancies, as I laid on the bathroom floor, weak and wan from throwing up.
I recently decided to do a bit of good old fashioned detective investigating to see what information I could unearth on the topic.
I began by contacting the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the Government agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that is responsible for regulating and supervising the safety of food, drugs, vaccines, cosmetics, and more.
They responded to my query with this statement, “There are no currently marketed, FDA-approved drugs that have a labeled indication for the treatment of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Bendectin (DOXYLAMINE SUCCINATE; PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE) was approved for this indication, but the company discontinued marketing of the drug in the early 1980s.”
Despite that fact, many doctors still regularly prescribe and recommend medications to pregnant women. The most common ones that I came across in my research are:
- Doxylamine (over-the-counter)
- Emetrol (over-the-counter)
- Promethazine/Phenergan (prescription)
- Zofran (prescription)
Here’s a little table that I put together after consulting drugs.com and other online resources:
To gain more information about morning sickness medications and remedies, I turned to Eileen Beard, a Certified Nurse-Midwife and Family Nurse Practitioner that is currently serving on-staff with the American College of Nurse-Midwifes. Eileen has over 30 years of experience in the field and she also has the very best experience…she has 10 children of her own!
When asked about medications, Eileen reminded me that it is important to reassure women that 70-80% of women experience nausea as a normal accompaniment of pregnancy. “It’s certainly not a bad sign,” she wisely stated, “In fact, it can actually be a sign that your hormone levels are where they should be. And, remember – it will pass.”
It is well-documented that the majority of women will be free of nausea by about the 12th week of pregnancy (as they enter the second trimester).
She also stated that, “it’s good to try other things first [before turning to medication].”
She went on to offer these natural remedies, noting that “different things work well for different people.”
- Avoid potential “triggers” (certain smells that bother you, etc.).
- Eat small meals more often.
- Don’t let your stomach get empty.
- Drink Ginger Tea or non-alcoholic Ginger Beer.
- Drink Chamomile Tea.
- Drink freshly squeezed lemonade.
- Take 10mg of Vitamin B6.
- Suck on hard candies.
- Suck on freshly cut lemons.
- Brush teeth + gargle often.
- Eat crackers.
- If cooking bothers you, go out to eat instead.
- Eat whatever appeals to you.
I asked her when a woman would know that she needs to go to the hospital or get other medications. She said, “Every woman has a different tolerance level and every woman needs to be an active participant in her own care. If you are dehydrated and unable to keep liquids down, that’s when something needs to be done. It’s okay if you can’t eat for short periods of time as long as you are drinking.”
She stated that in extreme cases, some women may choose to take Phenergan (“It’s been around a long time – I used to recommend 1/2 a suppository.”) or Zofran (“very expensive and generally not covered by insurance“).
As is the case any time I am taking medication of any kind (which is almost never, by the way), I try to weigh the risks of taking the drug versus the risks of just staying “as is.” With both of my pregnancies, I chose to just wait it out and be sick (read my past post – I was really, REALLY sick – My Not-So-Glamorous 1st Trimester). I figured that I’d rather throw up all day, every day than take an unknown medication that may or may not be “harmful to an unborn baby.” I have no regrets about that choice and I will likely do the same thing with any future pregnancies (although I’m really, really hoping I don’t get as sick next time…P.S. It was all totally worth it…100% worth it.).
- Did you experience morning sickness?
- If so, were you prescribed medication (and did you take it)?
- If not, what “natural remedies” did you try and did they work?
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