So, since I am pregnant and don’t feel like sleeping at the moment (thanks to my friends heartburn and SPD), I thought I’d talk a little about my favorite part of pregnancy: morning sickness! </sarcasm> I have found in my two pregnancies thus far that I tend to land myself somewhere between the two morning sickness “extremes”.
On one end of the spectrum, you have mild nausea that may or may not be accompanied by vomiting. It is typically alleviated by eating frequently and all of those “traditional” morning sickness remedies*. It usually disperses soon after the first trimester ends.
On the other is Hyperemesis Gravidarum – nausea that is accompanied by severe vomiting and the inability to keep any food or liquid down whatsoever. Women suffering from HG are at risk of severe dehydration and weight loss and are treated with anti-nausea medication (which may or may not work) and may receive fluids and nutrients through an IV. Hyperemesis Gravidarum may last the entire pregnancy.
Personally, I have never been diagnosed with HG, and from talking with friends who have, I don’t think my nausea is quite severe enough to even qualify as a mild case. But I definitely throw up more than “just once”, I lose a significant amount of weight, and I can’t get any of the typical morning sickness remedies to work for me. The only thing that has helped me keep my nausea at bay is Zofran, my Best Friend and Miracle Drug.
With my first pregnancy, my nausea subsided around 16-18 weeks, but I continued to take Zofran well into my third trimester (I just needed less frequent doses). With this pregnancy, my symptoms subsided around 13-15 weeks and I haven’t needed to take Zofran since week 27.
I know that I am not the only one that’s stuck being extra sick, but still “not that sick”. And now that I am far enough removed from the situation to be somewhat reflective about it, I have compiled a list for you! I like to call it….
12 Pieces of Advice for when Morning Sickness is Beating You Up:
- Do not feel like anti-nausea meds are wimping out!!!! If they help you to function, you shouldn’t have to suffer. I hate being dependent on medications, so this was hard for me. But Zofran has worked wonders in my case and I didn’t hesitate to ask for a prescription this time around. It can be expensive, but there are off-brands available (the drug name is Ondansetron) and it is a miracle worker for a lot of women.
- There are three different ways Zofran is administered: a pill that you swallow, a pill that you dissolve under your tongue, and a liquid that you drink. There are pros and cons to all. I took the traditional pills during my first pregnancy, and suffered from headaches/migraines (a possible side effect). I took the dissolving pills this time around, and they taste AWFUL, but the drug takes effect almost instantaneously. I was almost to the point where I couldn’t handle the flavor and was going to try the liquid form, but never actually made the switch, so I can’t speak for the liquid form personally. But I’ve heard it’s fast acting with a better flavor.
- Don’t be afraid of throwing up. Accept that it might happen, and don’t let the fear of it cripple you. I definitely made things worse for myself during my first pregnancy, because I would be so terrified of the possibility of puking that I would refuse to try to eat or do anything.
- Try to eat every 1-2hrs. Even if it’s gross to you, eat it. Also, don’t worry about nutritional content. Your baby will live. Eat what sounds good….or rather, what doesn’t make you gag just thinking about it. Carbs will usually stay down, and protein helps some people as well. Simple foods tend to be best – toast, applesauce, ramen noodles, etc.
- If a food is leaving a weird after taste that’s making you sick – brush your teeth and don’t forget to brush the roof of your mouth, too! Sounds odd, but flavors always get stuck there for me.
- POPSICLES. POPSICLES. POPSICLES. I survived thanks to popsicles. Find a flavor you don’t hate, they usually stay down and keep you at least a little hydrated and give you some form of carbohydrate energy! (Since it melts down your throat, it lands a little gentler in your stomach and doesn’t “disturb the environment” too much).
- Other fluid tips: sip something between meals rather than with them. Try carbonation. Try adding a splash of juice to your water. Try Pedialyte.
- Lie on your left side – this aids digestion. And for whatever reason, stuff doesn’t “flow” back up your throat as well when you lay on your left (as opposed to on your right side or your back).
- Indulge in the antacid of your choice. Mine are #1 Zantac and #2 Tums. This may help decrease the acidity of your stomach and help food settle better. Also, I suffer from heartburn all 9 months of my pregnancies, so it helps with that too.
- Gummy prenatal vitamins can be easier to stomach! They don’t include Iron, which can be difficult to digest and cause nausea. However it is important to be sure you aren’t anemic before cutting out the Iron. If you are, and an iron supplement is necessary, ask about kinds that are more easily digested! Iron comes in many forms.
- Don’t be afraid to try taking stool softeners and use glycerin suppositories….it can be really difficult to poo sometimes and all that backup can add to the nausea. But BEWARE of bulk-forming fiber supplements! They require a lot of water to be effective, and if fluids are making you nauseous, chances are you won’t have enough in your system to get them to work properly. So you’ll just end up more constipated than you started. Talk to your doc!
- Walking/moving around can also aid digestion! The most I felt like I could do was walk a loop around my (very tiny) house. So that’s what I did. I’d walk a couple loops. And it usually helped.
- Pressure points to alleviate nausea:
- On your wrist, about two finger widths below your palm. Use your thumb and press firmly. My husband would do this one for me when we were out and about, he would take my wrist as we were walking. It may look a little controlling from an outsider’s point of view, but hey! It helps! Sea Bands also achieve this same effect.
- Under your nose/above your lip. I think that part of your face is called your Cupid’s Bow? Press firmly with index and middle fingers.
- If the smell of the grocery store makes you want to hurl….I have found that Target’s grocery department tends to smell less than your typical grocery store. No meat department ;)
- Switch to maternity pants early on. The less pressure there is on your belly, the better. Wear soft bras or sports bras.
My number one piece of advice, though, is do not feel bad for doing what you have to do to survive. With my first pregnancy, I quit my job and dropped out of school. With my second pregnancy, I had to stop breastfeeding my firstborn before she was ready to give it up, because I was withering away. Other things I used to feel bad about include but are not limited to: frequently running out of rooms to avoid smells, letting my daughter watch WAY too much TV, buying disposable plates/cups/cutlery because I couldn’t stomach the dishes, letting my house get pretty filthy, and asking my kind neighbors to watch my daughter for a couple hours nearly every day.
But you know what I learned??? None of those things are really important, and nobody really cares or blames you for them. So you need to go easy on yourself.
What IS important is that you are giving up your life for a short while in order to give life to another human being. All of the embarrassing, uncomfortable, painful parts of pregnancy mean nothing when you think of the work that you’re really doing in the long run. No, you might not be able to see that in the moment (and if you can you deserve a gold medal!), but it’s the truth. Giving up your life and your body for a measly nine months in order to provide a full lifetime for another? Well, that’s worth doing a hundred times over, in my opinion.
I’m going to end now because I have pregnant brain and can no longer tell if my paragraphs are forming complete thoughts or if I’m merely repeating myself in new and interesting ways over and over again. Goodnight everybody!
*Traditional morning sickness remedies include: eating crackers, eating before you get out of bed, eating every two hours, eating only proteins, smelling or sucking on fresh ginger or ginger candies, drinking ginger ale, smelling citrus, sucking on sugar-free candies, exercising, taking Vitamin B6……honestly I can’t remember them all. But there’s a lot out there!