Nausea can be one of the most debilitating symptoms of pregnancy. For some women who are prone to motion sickness, this problem is compounded when traveling. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to cope with and treat motion sickness while you are pregnant.
First, it is helpful to understand the causes of motion sickness. Physically, motion sickness is caused when there is a conflict between the signals sent from the eyes, inner ear, and the rest of the body. Sometimes the conflict is subtle; for example, when one is inside the cabin of a ship, there may be no visual perception of motion, but the inner ear, which controls balance, detects the rocking of the boat. The symptoms of motion sickness can include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, increased salivation, headache, paleness of the skin, and cold sweats.
Some medications are available for motion sickness. However, most of these can cause drowsiness and can impair judgment in the user. The most common of these is Scopolamine. This is taken prior to travel, and is available as a patch. Other medications that must be taken prior to travel include promethazine, cyclizine, and meclizine. Dimenhydrinate, otherwise known as Dramamine, can be taken after symptoms start, and must be taken every 4 to 8 hours. Unfortunately, these medications are not recommended for pregnant women. If you are considering one of these, check with your health care provider before taking them.
There are some basic, non-medical things that a person can do to help avoid motion sickness. A general reduction in stress and anxiety levels will often help with motion sickness. Maintaining proper airflow will often help with odors that add to nausea. Many people have experienced success with distraction techniques (other than reading; reading can make motion sickness worse) that keep their minds occupied and away from motion sickness. Other people find that the use of a head rest or a neck pillow will minimize the movement of the head, and thereby reduce motion sickness. Having light meals and avoiding greasy foods and alcohol prior to travel may help with motion sickness, as will eating foods high in carbohydrates.
Some people who experience motion sickness have had success with the use of herbs. The most effective of these seems to be ginger, and some clinical trials have even seemed to support its effectiveness. Other herbs used for motion sickness include black horehound (ballotta nigra) and peppermint. The Chinese herbal mixture, Pingandan, is also used. Other people have turned to a variety of other alternative therapies, including acupuncture and massage therapy. Homeopathic remedies have included Borax, Cocculus, Nux Vomica, Petroleum, Sepia, and Tabacum. Not all of these herbs are considered safe for pregnancy; here again, you chould check with your health care provider.
A variety of wrist bands, which use either pressure or electric methods, are also available that may assist people with motion sickness. These items tend to be very popular, as they are not very complex, relatively inexpensive, and do not have the side effects often associated with medications. The wrist bands that use electric methods are often not recommended for pregnant women, but the pressure-based wrist bands, such as the Sea Bands brand, are considered safe.