Can You Prevent Morning Sickness With Nutrition?

Morning sickness – the inevitable, awful, first sign of pregnancy that movies and TV shows love to highlight. We’ve seen it portrayed a number of times. Is a woman running to the restroom suddenly and unexpectedly? She’s gotta be pregnant! Is a woman holding back nausea when offered any type of strong-smelling food? Obviously pregnant! A woman kneeling, bent over a toilet? Unless she’s been heavily drinking, definitely pregnant. At this point, it’s more a plot device than a reality.

The truth is, not all women have morning sickness. Why not? Let’s debunk some theories about what causes morning sickness.

Intense morning sickness symptoms are a sign of a strong pregnancy.

What exactly does that mean, anyway? What is a strong pregnancy? And, logically, does that make any sense? Plenty of women have had severe morning sickness symptoms only to sadly see their pregnancy end in a miscarriage, while others experienced no such symptoms and birthed a happy, healthy baby. Let’s try another theory.

Morning sickness symptoms are an evolutionary feature to help mom protect baby.

This theory implies mom is vomiting to rid her body of anything she ate which could be harmful to the baby, or she’s experiencing nausea to stop her from eating something potentially harmful. What about the women whose morning sickness symptoms are so severe all they can eat are popsicles and jelly beans? It’s hard to believe mom is being guided by the super intelligence of mother nature to nourish her fast-growing fetus with nothing but popsicles and jelly beans. Moving on…

Morning sickness symptoms are caused by nutritional deficiencies in the modern diet.

Okay, this one sounds way more plausible. Why? In a study by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration Medical College and Vajira Hospital, supplementation with vitamin B6 significantly reduced nausea and vomiting. Basically, the women were vitamin B6 deficient. When they brought their B6 levels back up they experienced milder nausea and fewer bouts of vomiting. There you have it. That’s one good theory.

Nausea is caused by insufficient cholesterol.

This one’s interesting because most people are so terrified of cholesterol these days that this could almost make sense. Basically, cholesterol is required to make the hormones required in pregnancy – progesterone and estrogen. If cholesterol is used up during pregnancy to make these hormones, it can’t make what it usually makes – bile. Bile is required to digest fats. Low bile = nausea. This could also be a good theory and, again, nutrition based.

Lack of morning sickness is often hereditary.

Ah, the magic of our greatest inheritance – our genes. There’s a study showing morning sickness could be genetic, which would explain why women who consume nutrient-dense diets can still experience morning sickness symptoms. If this theory is accurate, getting all your vitamins and minerals may not be enough to stave of morning sickness entirely.

Emily of, an acupuncturist and holistic practitioner who’s worked with hundreds of pregnant women in her practice, has found that a nutrient-dense diet in preparation for pregnancy seems to reduce morning sickness in women who inherited the morning sickness blues from their moms.

 So what are her nutritional guidelines for preventing morning sickness symptoms?

If you’re not yet pregnant, the key to preventing (or at least reducing the intensity of) morning sickness is to ‘pre-load’ your pregnancy for at least 3-6 months with a nutrient-dense diet rich in fat, fat-soluble vitamins, and essential minerals. This can include:

  • 4 cups of whole milk per day (including yogurt, kefir, or ice cream), preferably raw and from pasture-fed cows

  • 4 tbsp. of butter daily, minimum, preferably from pasture-fed cows

  • 2 or more eggs per day, plus additional egg yolks, added to smoothies, salad dressings, scrambled eggs, etc. – preferably from pasture-raised chicken

  • 2 tbsp. of coconut oil daily, used in cooking or in smoothies

  • Liver –  once or twice a week, 3-5 ounce portions

  • Seafood  2-4 times per week, with a focus on fish roe, mollusks, shellfish, salmon, sardines, and anchovies

  • Cod liver oil (non-heat treated) to supply 20,000 IU of vitamin A

  • Fresh beef or lamb, always with the fat

  • A cup or more of bone broth, either to drink or used in soups, stews, or sauces

  • Cultured vegetables, condiments, and beverages, a small amount with each meal

  • Fresh fruit and veggies, preferably organic, seasonal, and local – daily

And if you’re already pregnant? She also has some tips to manage morning sickness:

  • Snack on fat and protein every two hours.

  • Sip bone broth, raw milk, or take a magnesium supplement.

  • Get acupuncture with the approval of your doctor.

Once the morning sickness passes, give the nutritional guidelines here a try to replenish your body and nourish your growing baby.

How early can you have morning sickness? Read our article to find out.

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