You’re pregnant. Congratulations!
However, nausea and other early pregnancy symptoms might start to put a dampener on your excitement in the first trimester.
Nausea after eating is a common complaint in early pregnancy.
Read on to find out what causes it and how to cope with this annoying pregnancy symptom.
Having nausea after eating in early pregnancy
During pregnancy, rising hormone levels cause changes to your digestive system and body. This means the food you eat spends longer in your small intestine.
This could contribute to nausea after eating food, in a number of ways:
- Increased estrogen levels. This can cause short-term nausea, bloating and vomiting, or a combination of all three.
- Increased human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) levels. This hormone, which the body begins to produce the following conception, to maintain the uterine lining, is thought to cause morning sickness
- Increased progesterone levels. This can cause the sphincters in the lower esophagus to relax, causing nausea and heartburn.
These hormones can be the indirect causes of any changes such as nausea after eating in early pregnancy. A lack of vitamin B6 in the diet is thought to be another possible cause.
How soon did you feel sick when pregnant?
Some women don’t experience any nausea when pregnant. Nausea after eating food most commonly begins around week 6 of pregnancy, when hormone levels really start to ramp up.
Other women, though can feel nausea as early as 4 weeks pregnant (which is only 2 weeks after conception).
Some women throw up frequently, some only have pregnancy nausea, and in others, nausea is only triggered by certain odors or foods. Everyone experiences pregnancy nausea differently and your overall health might play a part in this.
Whether nausea is triggered by eating one particular food, or you just feel nauseous all the time, a home pregnancy test can confirm whether you’re pregnant or something else is going on – such as the dreaded stomach flu.
What helps ease nausea after eating in pregnancy?
To help with nausea after eating you might like to try any or all of the following tips:
- Ginger root has been shown to ease nausea and settle the stomach. Drink it steeped in hot water or add it to your food and cooking. Ginger ale used to be suggested for nausea conditions but it’s been found to be less effective than ginger root
- Lemon is another natural remedy for nausea. A few slices in hot water can soothe your upset stomach, especially between meals
- Sniff peppermint oil to help reduce the feeling of nausea. It might be helpful to keep some oil next to your bed, so you can sniff before getting up in the morning, to avoid upsetting your stomach
- Take your prenatal vitamins when your stomach has settled and after some food if possible
- Drink plenty of fluid every day, get some fresh air, and rinse your mouth after eating food to help with that queasiness. This can improve your mood and your physical health as well
- You could also try chewing some gum. As strange as it sounds, chewing gum is a way to alleviate nausea for some women.
Anything that can help you feel better is worth a try.
Uncomfortably full after eating
As well as nausea after eating during the first trimester, it’s also really common to feel bloated and full.
This is due to progesterone, which relaxes the smooth muscle in your digestive system. This means food moves through the digestive tract much more slowly.
This slowing down of the digestive tract allows more time for all the nutrients in foods to be absorbed in the intestine and reach your growing baby.
However, this can also make you feel bloated and nauseous. All the food you eat will travel more slowly through your body; adding more or larger meals causes food buildup in your intestine.
As the baby gets bigger, your organs and digestive tract get squashed, causing discomfort due to indigestion and heartburn. If you choose to eat less food, it can lead to malnutrition, which will affect your health and potentially your baby’s health and development.
One tip is to eat small meals, more often. This may help with your appetite. A light meal can be beneficial for your digestive tract, preventing the food buildup in your intestine that causes bloating and nausea after eating.
Nausea after eating in early pregnancy – boy or girl?
Levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG, which triggers morning sickness, tend to be higher in mothers who are pregnant with female babies.
But a pregnant woman can certainly have nausea after eating, and even bad morning sickness, when she’s carrying a boy.
Some old wives’ tales suggest the foods that trigger nausea are a clue to whether you’re having a boy or a girl. But there’s little evidence to support this.
Please read this wonderful article on Boy or Girl – What Am I Having? 16 Old Wives Tales for more information.
What if nausea doesn’t stop in pregnancy?
A condition called hyperemesis gravidarum occurs in up to 2% of pregnancies.
It involves symptoms of severe and persistent vomiting and is a condition that compromises your health and that of your baby.
If you can’t keep foods or fluid down and have persistent nausea after eating, fatigue, and weight loss, these are signs you may have hyperemesis.
If you have any of these signs or symptoms, contact your health care provider or doctor for further advice. You might need hospitalization to treat dehydration.
Read When Is Morning Sickness Classed As Hyperemesis Gravidarum? for more information.
Is feeling nauseous after eating a sign of pregnancy?
Nausea after eating a meal is a common early sign of pregnancy. But nausea isn’t always the first (or only) symptom women experience in the first trimester.
Some women feel bloated after eating food, and have feelings of fatigue, queasiness, and moodiness; others might just notice tenderness in their breasts.
These are, of course, due to hormones. You might experience one, some, or even all of these when pregnant.
You’ll find information about other signs of pregnancy in Pregnancy Symptoms | 16 Signs Of Pregnancy.
Medication for nausea in pregnancy
When symptoms of nausea after eating persist, despite making changes to your diet or trying natural remedies, your doctor might recommend medication.
Here is a list of medications used to treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy:
Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) is considered first-line therapy for nausea and can be taken in conjunction with other medications called antiemetics (anti-vomiting and nausea medications).
Doxylamine with pyridoxine
A sustained-release tablet, combining doxylamine (10 mg) and pyridoxine (10 mg) has been available for many years in Canada to treat nausea in pregnancy.
A similar product, Debendox, was voluntarily withdrawn in Australia in 1983, after claims it caused birth defects.
Subsequent research has shown that this assertion was unfounded. Even so, for 30 years Australian women have been denied this safe and effective treatment.
The two medicines can be purchased separately, over the counter, in Australia.
Metoclopramide is classified as a pregnancy category A medication and is the most commonly prescribed antiemetic in pregnancy.
This classification might appear reassuring, in terms of safety, but it doesn’t give any indication of the drug’s efficacy.
Many pregnant women report metoclopramide didn’t ease their nausea but didn’t make it worse.
Although there is limited safety data for ondansetron in pregnancy, it’s often prescribed for women with hyperemesis gravidarum.
It’s not recommended as first-line therapy, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Ondansetron commonly causes constipation and bloating, which might already be a problem in pregnancy. To reduce this side effect, it’s recommended to use laxatives and limit the use of ondansetron
Mirtazapine is an antidepressant and an alternative when other antiemetics fail to treat hyperemesis. It should only be used under your doctor’s supervision.
Corticosteroid use should be limited to pregnant women with nausea and vomiting that are difficult to control.
Women should have a regular medical follow-up to ensure steroids aren’t taken for lengthy periods.
Corticosteroids are best avoided in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy due to a possible association with cleft lip and palate.
Acid reflux, heartburn, and bloating can all make nausea worse when you’re pregnant.
You can use calcium-based antacids safely. Other treatments include proton-pump inhibitors and H2 blockers, both of which reduce the amount of acid produced in the stomach.
Women who suffer from prolonged vomiting could be at risk of thiamine or vitamin B1 deficiency. Thiamine supplementation may be recommended by your care provider.
Speak with your doctor or midwife for advice and information on what is right for you.
Alternative therapies for nausea in pregnancy
Alternative therapies are those that aren’t part of the standard medical treatments usually prescribed by medical doctors.
Some women turn to complementary therapies during pregnancy to help reduce symptoms such as nausea and bloating. These treatments usually include acupuncture or acupressure.
Acupuncture is an ancient therapy that involves inserting thin needles into certain points of the body to ease certain conditions and their symptoms. For nausea, treating acupuncture point PC6 on the inner forearm safely and effectively reduces nausea in pregnancy.
Always check your acupuncture therapist is qualified and experienced in the treatment of pregnant women.
Acupressure, or reflexology, works on the same principles to relieve symptoms, except instead of inserting needles, you apply pressure to points. You or your partner can do this at home.
Always check with your doctor before commencing any new therapies.
How long does morning sickness in pregnancy last?
Morning sickness typically starts about week 6 and finishes around the end of the first trimester, with a peak between weeks 8 and 10.
Although those weeks can seem brutally long, there is a strange comfort in knowing your hormones are doing their work and your baby is growing.
Unfortunately for some women, nausea, discomfort and even vomiting happen on and off throughout the entire pregnancy.
A queasy, crampy stomach is no fun at the best of times.
Some great remedies can be found in Morning Sickness – 10 Best Morning Sickness Remedies.
Why do smells cause nausea in pregnancy?
It’s a scientific fact that high levels of estrogen increase your sensitivity to smell.
When you’re pregnant, you produce much higher levels of estrogen. This sensitivity can affect your stomach, meaning every smell in the world is going to bother you for nine months.
Let’s face it! Some odors are worse than others, so avoid those that trigger your nausea during pregnancy.