During the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, around 7 out of 10 women will face morning sickness. I personally faced morning sickness with both of my pregnancies, and it really put a damper on my mood. There was no pregnancy glow as I had always dreamed of. Instead, I found myself making bathroom trips around the clock, sleeping in the car on my lunch break, and going to bed by 6 PM.
While it was easier to maintain this schedule when I was pregnant with my first when the second baby came along, there was no way I could go to bed early and sleep around the clock. As a dietitian, I tried to implement dietary changes, which helped — but only to a certain extent. I needed more.
Among many things I tried were Unisom and Vitamin B6. My OBGYN recommended it as a remedy to ease the queasiness and nausea I was experiencing. Honestly, it helped.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about Unisom and B6 for nausea during pregnancy.
What is Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness is defined as nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Unfortunately, around 75% of pregnant women, and the exact cause remains unknown. Despite being called “morning sickness”, it can occur at any point during the day.
Only 1.8% of women who experience morning sickness report that symptoms occur only in the morning.
It usually begins around week six and often persists until weeks 12 to 14. For me, it was the first sign I needed to go get a pregnancy test with both of my boys.
The good news is, morning sickness doesn’t negatively impact your developing baby. In fact, many doctors consider it to be a sign that your placenta is developing as it should.
Nevertheless, morning sickness is no fun, and it can seriously put a damper on your mood and plans.
Lifestyle and Diet for Morning Sickness
Making several dietary and lifestyle modifications can ease your nausea and decrease the frequency of vomiting.
Here are a few helpful tips to alleviate morning sickness:
- Eat small, frequent meals
- Take prenatal vitamins with food
- Eat apples and watermelon (studies suggest they are more effective than crackers at alleviating nausea in pregnancy!)
- Give in to your cravings
- Stay sitting up 30-60 minutes after a meal
- Snack on toast or crackers
- Avoid spicy, fatty foods
- Eat bland foods like mashed potatoes, rice, or bananas
- Try cold or frozen smoothies and drinks
- Stay hydrated and sip on fluids throughout the day
- Try ginger chews (these are the ones I used!)
When dietary and lifestyle changes fail, thankfully, there are other options to ease nausea. There are both prescription medications available and over-the-counter supplements your doctor may recommend to ease your pregnancy-associated nausea.
Unisom and B6 for Morning Sickness
Unisom and B6 for nausea in pregnancy are commonly recommended by doctors to help with symptom relief. When taken together, some studies suggest they can reduce symptoms of nausea and vomiting by as much as 70%.
Unisom is the brand name for a sleep drug called doxylamine. It belongs to a class of drugs called antihistamines. Unisom, or doxylamine, works by blocking substances in the body that play a role in nausea and vomiting.
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin. It’s commonly found in beef liver, tuna, salmon, chickpeas, poultry, and dark leafy greens.
Inadequate vitamin B6 in the body can lead to nausea and vomiting, so it’s often one of the first things recommended in early pregnancy.
Experts recommend taking 10-25 milligrams of vitamin B6 every eight hours as the first line of defense against nausea.
If symptoms do not improve with the addition of B6 supplementation, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends pairing it with doxylamine, which is the active ingredient in Unisom Sleep Tabs.
How To Take Vitamin B6 and Unisom For Nausea
If 25 milligrams of vitamin B6 up to three times a day by itself isn’t doing the trick, and you’re ready to try combination therapy, here’s what experts recommend.
Day 1: Take a 25-milligram tablet of vitamin B6 combined with one half (12.5 milligrams) of a 25-milligram tablet of Unisom at bedtime. Be sure to take this at bedtime to avoid drowsiness.
Continue the pattern for three days. If symptoms don’t resolve by day three, you may adjust your regimen.
Day 3: Take a 25-milligram tablet of vitamin B6 combined with one half (12.5 milligrams) of a 25-milligram Unisom tablet in the morning and at bedtime.
If symptoms still continue, you can increase it once more. Here’s a sample regimen.
Day 4: Take a 25-milligram tablet of vitamin B6 combined with one half (12.5 milligrams) of a 25-milligram Unisom tablet in the morning, at lunch, and at bedtime.
Alternatively, some providers may recommend taking a 25-milligram tablet of vitamin B6 combined with 12.5 milligrams, or one half of Unisom in the morning and 25 milligrams of vitamin B6 paired with one tablet or 25 milligrams of Unisom at night.
Be sure you choose regular strength Unisom sleep tabs and make sure the active ingredient is doxylamine. Some Unisom tablets have different active ingredients (Diphenhydramine), so always check the label to ensure you’re getting the right product. If you cannot find 25-milligram tablets of vitamin B6, you can use a pill cutter to cut a 50-milligram tablet in half.
To find out what combination works best for you and to discuss individual dosing recommendations, always speak with your OBGYN.
How Long Will Unisom and B6 Take to Work?
Taking Unisom and B6, what may seem like around the clock, can be a task in itself. Naturally, you may consider how long it will take to actually see the benefit.
The good news is, Unisom is usually fast-acting and may work in as little as 30 minutes to help relieve your nausea after taking it. However, results may vary. My OBGYN told me it might be up to one week before I got full symptom relief.
It took about two days for me to really start feeling better. However, I ended up taking a prescription called Diclegis, which is a combo of the two in one pill because my insurance actually paid for it, and it was cheaper. We’ll dig into that a little later, though.
Is Vitamin B6 and Unisom Safe for Morning Sickness?
Overall, the combination of Unisom and B6 for morning sickness is considered to be safe and is recommended by many doctors. However, as with all supplements and medications, it does come with side effects.
Below, I’ll discuss the potential side effects of each medication and side effects that may occur if used in combination.
Side effects of vitamin B6 supplementation include:
- Paresthesia, or a tingling sensation often described as “pins and needles”
- Feeling tired
Side effects of Unisom Sleep Tabs include:
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
Side effects of the combination of vitamin B6 and Unisom include:
- Dry mouth
- Dry throat and nose
- Stomach pain
Nevertheless, it’s important to always consult with your health care provider to discuss any potential side effects or interactions with medications you are currently taking.
Prescription Medications for Morning Sickness
Recently, the FDA approved medication for morning sickness called Diclegis. It is a prescription medication for pregnant women over the age of 18.
Doses start out low and gradually increase until symptoms are resolved. The maximum dose is four tablets per day (one in the morning, one at lunch, and two before bed).
It may take 5-7 hours for you to feel the full effect. However, the manufacturer has come out with a new medication called Bonjesta that is designed to work faster and uses extended-release tablets that you only have to take up to two times per day.
Both have been proven in clinical studies to relieve symptoms of morning sickness. Unfortunately, if you have hyperemesis gravidarum, these tablets have not been studied in this population.
Fortunately, side effects are minimal. The most common side effect of these medications is drowsiness and fatigue.
Contrary to popular belief, the FDA has not actually approved Zofran to treat morning sickness. However, many studies show that it is safe and effective to use during the first trimester with pregnant women. (I know it really helped me!)
Morning Sickness VS Hyperemesis Gravidarum
So, we know what morning sickness is. But, how do you know if it’s hyperemesis gravidarum or a bad case of morning sickness?
Around 3% of women experience hyperemesis gravidarum during early pregnancy. Women who experience severe and persistent nausea and vomiting paired with weight loss may have hyperemesis gravidarum.
Symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum include:
- Severe dehydration
- Dark urine
- Vomiting more than three times per day
- Weight loss of at least five pounds
If you think you have hyperemesis gravidarum, speak with your OBGYN right away to develop a treatment plan. Diet modifications, rest, and medications can usually help with mild cases of hyperemesis gravidarum. Because severe cases can lead to a hospital stay, you shouldn’t treat this condition lightly.
I have developed a hyperemesis gravidarum diet plan that discusses dietary management of hyperemesis gravidarum. It can help with morning sickness, too!
Constantly feeling like you’re going to throw up or throwing up every day can be miserable. It’s important to safely achieve symptom relief so you can enjoy the early stages of pregnancy and keep sailing smoothly along during your pregnancy adventure.
Consider adding vitamin B6 as the first line of defense. If you aren’t feeling symptom relief, consider adding in Unisom.
Alternatively, if your insurance allows, you can add an FDA-approved medication like Bonjesta or Diclegis so you don’t have to take more than one pill at once.
To minimize the quest feeling, space out your meals, give in to cravings, and avoid foods that trigger nausea. To ensure nutrients are met, consider adding in a high-quality prenatal vitamin as well.
As always, speak with your health care provider before starting any supplementation during pregnancy.
How much B6 and Unisom should I take for nausea?
You can safely take 25 milligrams of B6 up to three times daily. Most providers recommend taking 12.5 milligrams, or one-half of a tablet of Unisom up to three times daily. Consult with your doctor for individualized dosing recommendations.
Does vitamin B6 and Unisom help with morning sickness?
Yes. Studies show that the combination of vitamin B6 with Unisom may help improve morning sickness by up to 70%.
Can Unisom alone help with morning sickness?
Some antihistamines, including Unisom, may be effective at treating morning sickness. However, providers often recommend starting with vitamin B6 first to see if you get symptom relief before trying combination therapy.