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New Thoughts on Nausea

It isn't easy being green, especially for the nearly three-quarters of all newly pregnant women who experience nausea during pregnancy. And despite its name, "morning sickness" can strike at any time.

Pregnancy nausea usually begins between four and eight weeks of pregnancy. There's no one explanation for what causes it, says Jennifer Niebyl, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City. Researchers currently suspect a variety of factors including levels of pregnancy hormones such as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), certain gastrointestinal bacteria like H. pylori, and vitamin deficiency (particularly vitamin B6). "The hormone hCG plays a fundamental role in morning sickness," says Dr. Niebyl. "If you're carrying multiples, you'll experience more nausea because of increased hCG levels."

Other factors include family history, predisposition to nausea (if you get car sick), and age (the younger you are, the greater the chances you'll be sick). The good news is that morning sickness is associated with having a healthy baby. While good news alone won't get rid of your nausea, the following remedies might help:

? Avoid triggers, such as offensive odors and fatty, spicy foods. Increasing your protein intake may also help curb queasiness.

? Eat frequent small, bland meals and drink plenty of water and fluids between them. Avoid an empty stomach -- and keep those crackers by your bedside.

? Talk to your practitioner about increasing your intake of vitamin B6, which may lessen nausea, or ask about a new prenatal vitamin called PremesisRx that has a greater amount of vitamin B6 combined with folic acid and calcium carbonate. (It doesn't include iron, which can upset the stomach.)

? Ask your doctor about medication such as vitamin B6 taken with the antihistamine Unisom Sleep Aid Tablets. This combination, formally sold as Bendectin, has been shown to be safe during pregnancy and is very effective at reducing morning sickness symptoms, says Dr. Niebyl.

? Try alternative techniques. Relief Bands (which emit a gentle electrical current) or elastic motion-sickness bands worn on wrist acupressure points may provide some relief. And a new study has found that acupuncture may help reduce nausea.

? Add ginger to your diet, as it's been shown to stave off nausea. Grate some into your tea, sip ginger ale made with real ginger, or snack on ginger cookies or candied ginger. Some other options are hard candies such as Gin-Gins or Preggie Pop lollipops and drops. And hang in there: Most women start to feel better in the second trimester.

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