Pregnant? Research says probiotics could reduce nausea and vomiting risk

Vomiting and nausea affect 85% of pregnant women. Can probiotics improve gut health and prevent feelings of sickness?

Pregnant woman drinks a probiotic drink
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're pregnant, you might have experienced feelings of nausea and vomiting as part and parcel of your pregnancy. Nobody seems to be exactly sure why this happens to so many women, but new science has found you might be able to prevent it by looking after your gut health.

There's lots of factors that affect the state of your gut. A lot of it is down to good nutrition, mostly via whole foods, but additional vitamins such as the best omega-3 supplements can also help (and you can check out all the best discounts in our vitamin sale guide). 

However, when looking at the feelings of nausea that occur during pregnancy, researchers have found probiotics, cultures of good bacteria found in fermented foods, could go some way to reducing and relieving these symptoms. 

The researchers, from the University of California, studied 32 participants over 16 days, as each took a probiotic supplement every three days. The end result was that "taking the probiotic significantly reduced nausea and vomiting. Nausea hours (the number of hours participants felt nauseous) were reduced by 16%, and the number of times they vomited was reduced by 33%. 

gut health during pregnancy

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"Probiotic intake also significantly improved symptoms related to quality of life, such as fatigue, poor appetite and difficulty maintaining normal social activities."

This is great news for people who are affected by nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, which the study estimates is around 85% of pregnant women. Because of the effect of pregnancy on the body, including all your changing hormones, your gut microbiome – the environment your gut bacteria live in – is radically altered. 

It appears the probiotic supplement helps keep your gut healthy, and instances of throwing up to a minimum. It is worth noting the sample size of this study is quite small, just 32 women, but the results are encouraging, and probiotic foods such as yoghurt, kimchi, other fermented food like sourdough bread and even probiotic food supplements like yoghurt drinks are very unlikely to have any kind of negative effect on the body.

Research has found large quantities of saturated fat, sugar and other whole foods that are generally unhealthy can also have a negative effect on the gut. So in order to keep your gut health in tip-top shape, you need to be eating right. Opting for whole foods cooked in a healthy way, such as on the best health grill or in an air fryer, instead of relying on sugary, fatty processed foods is also likely to improve your gut's microbiome.

Instead, be sure to eat lots of fiber, the building block of gut health, which can be found in whole grains, root veggies, spinach, beans, pulses and more. Our gut health guide can fill you in on the details.

Matt Evans
Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.