Eating concerns in early pregnancy


  • Changing what you eat and drink may help.
  • Eat small meals often. Do not get hungry. 
  • Eat snacks between meals.
  • Low fat bread and cereal are easy to digest. They also give you energy. 
  • Try popsicles, Pedialyte Pops®, or sherbet. 
  • Lemonade, lemon slices, potato chips, and crackers may help.
  • Limit drinks during meals. Get enough liquids between meals.
  • Eat a high-protein snack before bed to stabilize your blood sugar, such as:
    • Cottage cheese
    • Cheese and crackers
    • Half a sandwich
  • Eat right when you wake up, before rising. This will lessen stomach acid and help with nausea. Put a snack next to your bed, such as:
    • Crackers
    • Popcorn
    • Dry cereal
    • Vanilla wafers
  • Avoid eating greasy or spicy foods.
  • Have someone else do the cooking. Cooking odors can make cause nausea.
  • Avoid eating or drinking coffee or citrus. These can lead to more stomach acid.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking also leads to more stomach acid.
  • Take iron supplements only as you are told. Iron can upset the stomach. Taking the vitamin can be delayed for a few weeks if it causes nausea.
  • You may take over the counter Pepcid Complete® as needed for:
    • Heartburn
    • Indigestion
    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Listen to your body. Do what works best for you.


Nausea can lead to vomiting. Call your care team if you vomit many times in  24-hours and you think you are getting dehydrated. You should be seen that day.

People who vomit 1 or 2 times a day, but can keep most food and fluids down, can try managing the nausea at home. Try:

  • Stop the prenatal vitamin (PNV) until you are not having nausea.
    • Start taking folic acid 0.4 mg when you stop your PNV. This helps prevent neural tube defects.
  • Take Vitamin B6 25 mg 3 times each day.
  • Take Unisom® (doxylamine Succinate) 25 mg at bedtime.
    • It is a sleep aid. You do not need a prescription. It helps lessen stomach acids.
    • You can get 25 mg and 50 mg doses. Buy the 25 mg dose.
    • Generic is fine.
    • You may take 12.5 mg (1/2 tab) in the morning and afternoon if you need help with nausea during the day.
    • It will cause drowsiness. Do not drive after taking it.
    • It can be taken with vitamin B6.
  • If you still have problems, try: 
    • Ginger 1000 mg each day or 250 mg 3 times each day
    • Sea Bands® (These work well for some people.)
  • Eat and drink as suggested for nausea.
  • After vomiting:
    1. Start sipping on fluids.
    2. Try drinking 1 or 2 tablespoons every 15 minutes.
    3. Start with clear liquids, such as:
      • 7-Up®
      • Pedialyte®
      • Pedialyte Pops®
      • Popsicles
      • JELL-O®
    4. Slowly start eating bland foods.
    5. Eat snacks every 2 hours.
  • Eat and drink less dairy until nausea and vomiting are better.
  • Call your care team to talk about a prescription if you keep having problems.


  • Do not eat too much at any meal. Eat small meals often instead.
  • Do not lie down for at least 30 minutes after eating.
  • Do not take in the following, they can cause heartburn:
    • Smoking
    • Coffee
    • Foods that are spicy
    • Fried or fatty foods
    • Onions
    • Chocolate
    • Citrus fruits
  • You may take over the counter Pepcid Complete® as needed for:
    • Heartburn
    • Indigestion
    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)


Causes may be:

  • Hormones of pregnancy that slow the movements of the intestine.
  • Not drinking enough fluids to meet the higher demands of pregnancy.
  • Taking iron or the prenatal vitamin.
  • Doing less activity than normal.

This can be helped by:

  • Eating high-fiber foods, such as:
    • Fresh fruits (try prunes or prune juice)
    • Whole grain bread
    • Oatmeal
    • Popcorn
  • Drinking plenty of fluids. Drink at least 8 glasses each day.
  • Eat and drink less caffeine.
  • Allow time for a bowel movement. Go right away when an urge is felt.
  • Exercise 30 minutes most days, such as going for a walk.
  • Eat frequent, small meals. This is easier to digest than large meals.
  • When a laxative is needed, try Metamucil® or Citrucel®.
    • Take 1 to 2 teaspoons each night at bedtime with 8 ounces of water or fruit juice. Then drink at least 8 to 12 ounces of water.
    • Slowly take more as needed. Take up to 2 tablespoons 2 times a day.
    • It can take 2 to 3 weeks to see full effect.
    • It may cause flatulence (gas) at first. This will get better in 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Take Miralax® 1 time each day as needed.
    • Follow the directions on the bottle.
    • This can be taken long term.
  • Take Colace® (docusate sodium) 100 to 150 mg by mouth up to 3 times each day as needed.
    • It works 1 to 3 days after the first dose.
    • Take it with enough water.
  • Take Milk of Magnesia® 1 to 2 tablespoons 2 times each day for severe constipation. They may cause diarrhea.

We do not often suggest enemas or suppositories during pregnancy. A provider may suggest it in some situations.

Last reviewed: 
January 2021

Interested in using our health content?