Morning sickness is a big deal - it can be difficult, even debilitating. It makes one of the most exciting times of your life not so exciting. Women will try anything to get rid of morning sickness - so there are a lot of products to choose from.
There are some things that bring temporary relief, but there are also steps to take to bring a lasting cure. The best news? These products bring better health for you - and your baby!
What Causes Morning Sickness?
Why does morning sickness happen? You may have heard the quote "all disease begins in the gut," attributed to the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. Even over 2000 years ago, he was onto something. Researchers are not completely sure what the cause of morning sickness is, but we do know that it's worse in women with imbalances of the gut flora.
If you've ever heard people talk about "good bacteria" and "bad bacteria," they're talking about gut flora and gut health. "Bad bacteria" are what you might imagine: bacteria that cause disease. "Good bacteria," however, live inside your digestive system and help break down food so you get more nutrients out of it. They enhance and complete the digestive process.
Many modern women have a poor balance of digestive bacteria in their bodies. There are multiple reasons for this. Our society has done a lot to get rid of bad bacteria but in the process we've gotten rid of some of the good guys, too. We eat a lot of processed food and spend a lot of time inside, giving ourselves fewer opportunities to eat food that helps nourish good bacteria - or come in contact with it while out in nature.
Many people go for years without noticing a problem, but stomachaches, constipation, and other gut health issues often catch up with us over the years...
...or morning sickness hits with a a vengeance!
That's why the first line of defense against morning sickness ideally begins before you get pregnant - or at least as soon as you feel the first bit of queasiness.
Pink Stork's morning sickness bundle includes two products that boost gut health quickly:
First, Pink Stork Pro is a probiotic capsule. It contains a blend of several potent strains of good bacteria. The strains Pink Stork uses are very stable, meaning they survive while they're in the capsule waiting for you to take them. These helpful bacteria go to work as soon as they reach the lower part of your digestive tract, re-colonizing your body and helping you digest food and absorb nutrients. They also correct an imbalance of the bad bacteria (h. pylori is one of the biggest culprits in morning sickness).
Pink Stork Pro also includes "prebiotics," which are essentially nutrients that help nourish the probiotic bacteria so they thrive and start doing their job.
The second is Pink Stork Gut Health, a monolaurin supplement. Monolaurin is a coconut-based nutrient that helps stop harmful bacteria like h. pylori from working within the gut. Beneficial bacteria aren't harmed by it. It helps balance stomach ph levels, essential to keeping good bacteria healthy.
These two are a powerful boost to good gut health. Since they're rebuilding gut flora that may have been imbalanced for years (even since your childhood or even your birth), it can take time for lasting change. Usually you'll see - and feel - positive results within about two weeks.
Good gut bacteria levels will drop when you discontinue your probiotic supplement - I recommend you continue taking it throughout pregnancy and in the early postpartum. Ideally, alternate high-quality brands: finish a bottle of one and take another, then a third, then go back to the first (Seeking Health is my top choice and Biokult a close second - these work well to rotate with the Pink Stork).
One of the most important reasons to work on your own good bacteria and gut health during pregnancy is what it does for your baby. First, a healthy balance within your own body protects you from infection during pregnancy, including Group B Strep (beta strep or GBS), which can cause major problems if you're planning a natural, unmedicated birth. Many hospitals require continuous IV antibiotics for women with active GBS in the birth canal (vagina). While there's debate on the necessity of this treatment, there's no doubt that it changes the flow of your birthing time.
It also has a negative impact on your baby's gut flora, which is another reason to build your good bacteria levels. Even if you don't have active GBS in your body, your baby's future health is profoundly impacted by his or her gut health... and that comes directly from you! Your baby's body is colonized by the gut flora (the good and bad bacteria) in your body. Taking quality supplements like Pink Stork's Pro and Gut Health boosts your healthy bacteria so you pass healthy bacteria on to your baby.
Another bonus of good gut health? You're much less likely to suffer from constipation, another common pregnancy complaint!
Addressing gut health is an important first step because when you have plenty of "good bacteria" your body can absorb and use vital nutrients. Many women are deficient in nutrients and this can trigger nausea. I recommend a high-quality prenatal (click here for my best prenatal vitamin recommendation), which gently restores nutrient levels in your body and keeps them at optimal levels throughout your pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Like the probiotic and gut health supplements, taking these while trying to conceive is best - but start as soon as you can while pregnant.
One nutrient in particular brings quick relief from morning sickness - magnesium. Many women are deficient in magnesium. Pink Stork Mist is a magnesium suspension - meaning the magnesium is suspended in a liquid that's easy to spray on your skin. This provides for quick, effective absorption of the magnesium - and fast relief from morning sickness! Your skin is actually your body's largest organ and it's great at absorbing nutrients. Magnesium applied through a suspension on the skin acts faster and more effectively than a pill. While building your gut health can take a few weeks, magnesium usually begins to work more quickly.
Magnesium has other positive benefits - it can help you sleep better and helps relieve muscle aches and pains. Magnesium can also help prevent constipation, especially if applied at night before bed.
What About Quick Relief?
While building up good bacteria can take a few weeks and nutrient balance can take days to weeks depending on the nutrient, you may need morning sickness relief NOW! Or, if you're like me, certain things upset your stomach (I cannot handle seeing stickers left around when I’m pregnant - a dirty sticker on the floor sends me running for the bathroom!). Many women are sensitive to smells, leading to nausea.
Morning sickness lozenges bring quick relief in multiple ways. The pressure of the lozenge in your mouth is enough to ease nausea for some women. Sucking on the lozenge also brings relief to many. Pink Stork’s lozenges are made with Ginger and Vitamin B6, both known to bring nausea relief. The lozenges come in a variety of different flavors, so you can choose the one that tastes best to you.
Keep lozenges with you so you can use one anytime nausea is triggered. Consider keeping a handful by your bed so you can have one as soon as you get up, even before you sit up in bed. This can help head nausea off before it starts.
Vitamin B6 and ginger are also potent, quick morning sickness relievers in a supplement. Pink Stork's Total Nausea Relief combines both with magnesium and Himalayan sea salt so you get fast relief that nourishes your cells and keeps you feeling better, longer. This combination helped me during my pregnancies and I preferred a supplement to lozenges.
If you consistently have trouble with sickness in the morning, also consider having a small snack to stabilize your blood sugar first thing in the morning - even before you get out of bed. You could also have it at night when you get up to go to the bathroom. Keep something balanced on your bedside and enjoy!
What to Look For in Morning Sickness Relief Products
Like with any supplement, look for quality when you’re choosing a supplement to boost your nutrient reserves and good bacteria.
Be especially careful about probiotic supplements: many are shelf-stable but some require refrigeration. Check the label! Also check for “live active cultures” - that’s what guarantees you have good bacteria to colonize and do the helpful work they do within your lower digestive system. It’s ideal if your supplement has multiple strains of bacteria in it - this gives the greatest colonization for your body.
It’s also why I recommend you switch out your probiotic after each bottle (alternate between 2-3 quality brands); each brand has a different variety of good bacteria, so you get a good range. You may find that one brand seems to help with morning sickness or other digestive issues more.
Research shows that when you stop taking a probiotic much of the good bacteria colonization fades away; this is normal and not a flaw in the probiotic brand. But adding probiotic foods into your diet and taking a prebiotic (or adding one to your daily smoothie) can help your body rebuild gut-health in the long-term.
Check the quality and dependability of nutritional supplements, too. B vitamins (like B-6) are water-soluble; you will see some coloration in your urine when you take them. And you need to take them every day because the body doesn’t store them (it only stores fat-soluble vitamins, Like Vitamins A and D). This is true with every brand, but choosing high-quality vitamins is important so the maximum amount of the nutrient is absorbed - and so you know you're getting a form your body can use. For more information on evaluating the quality of vitamins, read my post on choosing the right prenatal vitamin.
Be sure you check quality on mineral supplements, like magnesium as well. A spray like the Pink Stork spray should be high-quality and from a reputable company. A cheap spray is likely to leave you nauseous and itchy! If you choose a supplement rather than a spray (such as the powdered Natural Calm, which is gentle enough I use it for my children), check its quality and purity, too.
There are many teas and lozenges on the market: avoid brands that are primarily sugar (sugar, sucrose, corn syrup, etc.). While these may provide soothing in the immediate moment, they may also spike your blood sugar, leading to a crash and returning nausea later. If the only lozenge that brings relief is one with lots of sugar, try to follow it up with something that has protein in it, such as a handful of nuts or a Greek yogurt.
Getting the Most Morning Sickness Relief
Consistently taking your morning sickness supplements is what will bring the most relief. Use lozenges whenever you need to quell nausea, but the other supplements are better if used regularly so you boost nutrient levels and gut health.
These consistent efforts are what help in the long run - and they also set your baby up for greater health after his or her birth!