How to Know Which Morning Sickness Medication You Should Choose

For some women, morning sickness is a bother that will resolve itself early in the second trimester. But, for other women, it sickness is a threatening condition which can only be treated by morning sickness medication.

Only you and your doctor can come to the best conclusion as to whether or not you need some morning sickness medication. Study the drugs the best you can so you can be fully prepared for any reaction that might occur. The best way to know which one you should choose is to know everything possible about each drug.

But, in the end, you have to make the best decision for you and your baby – not the nosy neighbor who thinks that you are a terrible person if you don’t go herbal for everything!

Let’s take a look at the medications that are available to pregnant women:

Over-the-Counter Help

I found several places where Unisom was suggested to help ease morning sickness. Here’s the low-down on it:

Doxylamine Succinate (Unisom) – it is a sedating antihistamine used as a short-term sedative. It is usually taken with B6 when used for morning sickness. A form of this combination was used up until the 80’s under the name Bendectin.

Safety in Pregnancy – generally considered safe in pregnancy but use at your own risk.

Possible Side Effects – dry mouth; if overdosed, can cause insomnia, dilated pupils, hallucinations, seizures

Dosage Form – pill

Bendectin Note: The drug combination was pulled from the market in the 80’s because of threatened legal action due to alleged links to congenital limb defects. These accusations were never proven.

Emetrol – is an anti-nausea, antiemetic drug that is safe for children. Many women turn to this medication first in order to calm their queasy stomach. It contains glucose, fructose and phosphoric acid. One alternative to this medicine is to take 1 tablespoon of caffeine free cola.

Safety in Pregnancy – considered safe during pregnancy

Possible Side Effects – phosphoric acid has been shown to decrease bone density and weaken the teeth. Many people ingest large quantities of phosphoric acid through soda.

Dosage Form – syrup


Your doctor can prescribe medication to help morning sickness go away, but will probably only do so if you are diagnosed with Hyperemesis gravidarum or severe morning sickness. Otherwise, the potential risk of taking the drugs is greater than the morning sickness itself.

Here are some of the options you might be offered:

Metoclopramide (Reglan) – as we discussed in the article regarding causes of morning sickness, the elevated levels of progesterone in your body will cause your digestive muscles to relax, causing your stomach to empty more slowly. Reglan strengthens the muscle of the lower esophageal sphincter (right where your esophagus and stomach meet, in about the middle of your chest). It can also stimulate the stomach muscles which will speed the emptying of the stomach. Reglan also interacts with the centers in your brain that trigger nausea.

Safety in Pregnancy – has not been well established. When used at low doses for a short period of time, it seems to be fine. But, the same source said that nursing mothers should avoid Reglan.

Possible Side Effects – restlessness, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, sedation, neurological side effects that mimic Parkinson’s disease.

Dosage Form – Tablet or syrup

Ondansetron (Zofran) – blocks the action of chemicals in your body that trigger nausea, specifically by reducing the activity of the vagus nerve.

Safety in Pregnancy – is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby. They aren’t sure if it passes to the baby through breast milk, so don’t take this if you are nursing.

Possible Side Effects – blurred vision or vision loss, slow heart rate, trouble breathing, anxiety, agitation, shivering, feeling like you might pass out, urinating less or not at all, can impair your thinking and reaction time so you can’t drive while taking it.

Dosage Form – IV or pill

Prochlorperazine (Compazine) – this is actually considered an antipsychotic drug which is 10 to 20 times more potent than chlorpromazine. It is a neuroleptic which means “nerve-seizing” and it has a semi-paralyzing effect on the brain and the nervous system. The effects of the dose, depending on how it is administered, only last hours from the research I was able to find.

Safety in Pregnancy – this drug does cross the placenta and is still considered safe during pregnancy even though in rat studies it produced increased fetal mortality, minor behavioral changes, cleft palate, among other observations.

Possible Side Effects – uncontrollable body or face movements, seizures or seizure-like symptoms, can cause neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS), is a blood reactant and can cause circulatory damage when used as a push IV in the emergency room.

Dosage Form – liquid, tablet, cream, suppository, injection

Promethazine (Phenergan) – operates as an antihistamine and an antiemetic. It has a strong sedative effect and is prescribed for insomnia.

Safety in Pregnancy – crosses the placenta, not enough human data, seems to cause cardiovascular defects with 1st trimester exposure, can cause respiratory depression and platelet dysfunction in the baby when used in

Possible Side Effects – confusion, drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation, chest discomfort or pressure, restless legs, irritability, seizures, NMS

Dosage Form – IV

Trimethobenzamide (Tigan) – it is unknown exactly how this drug works but it is thought to effect the lower half of the brainstem which receives input from blood-borne drugs and communicates with the vomiting center of the brain.

Safety in Pregnancy – limited human data available but seems to cause congenital anomalies, though this is unproven. May increase the chance of miscarriage.

Possible Side Effects – seizure, body spasms, depression, shakiness, skin rash, sore throat or fever, tiredness, vomiting. lists this as a “do not use” drug because they feel there is not sufficient proof as to its effectiveness.

Dosage Form – capsules, injection, suppositories

As you can see, some of the possibilities are pretty scary when it comes to morning sickness medication. The best thing you can do is to gather all the facts and weigh out the possibilities with your own reality. A very severe case of morning sickness might be more dangerous for your little one than the possible side effects of some of these medications.

I try to take the herbal road whenever possible, but sometimes extreme circumstances call for extreme measures. As I mentioned before, only you and your doctor can really make the final decision on whether one of these drugs can work for you.

We have many more Pregnancy Help Articles Now Available.