Things that have helped my morning / pregnancy sickness

To somehow start this controversial and very opinionated topic, let me begin by saying that I do not believe in the existence of sureproof pregnancy sickness remedies. Women are different, pregnancies are different and even within one pregnancy, as things progress, things change!

My two experiences, one of them ongoing, have been very different and so have been things that help. It is why I've titled this post "Things that have helped my morning / pregnancy sickness" rather than titling it "How to..." because in my mind, there simply aren't any how-to rules on this topic: there's things that help some people, sometimes, and that's about as firm as it gets.

But as much as I don't want this to be a how-to post, I'm also a firm believer in collective wisdom. As we share our daily going-ons on the internet, we not only benefit each other directly by sharing this piece or that piece of information, but all of it gets trawled by search engines who index it all and over time, that data gets built up into tangible results in form of conclusions on what works for a whole lotta people or at least benefits some people very strongly.

Basically, things that work.

And for me, things that have worked are...

Previous time

First time I was pregnant my morning / pregnancy sickness had a whole different dynamic to it. I vomited from when I was 5 weeks pregnant all the way until I was 17 weeks, with visible decreasing around weeks 13 or 14. At first it was daily (sometimes twice-daily or even thrice-daily) and over time became more like twice or three times a week - I doubt it had anything to do with the sickness itself though, and more that I simply learned to manage it better.

The key element to that sickness was, I found, that if my stomach had enough volume in it to vomit it out, it would - and so my key strategy became managing a constant, low volume of food and drink so I would get at least some nutrition and hydration, but not enough to be able to vomit it out.

So how much exactly am I talking about?

A mouthful.

I would wake up around 6 or 7 in the morning and reach for a muesli bar on the sidetable - not moving anything apart from my arm and then my jaw to chew it. Through trial and error I'd found that if I moved, say, to walk to the kitchen or even sit up, I'd vomit.

I'd chew on that mouthful and lay for another 15 minutes, nauseous but keeping it down. Then I'd reach for a drink, this time lifting my head slightly, and drink one or two mouthfuls - and again just lay there for another 15 minutes.

It took me 30 minutes to even get out of bed in this manner, but something about giving my body time to absorb some of the food/water or maybe get some sugar into my bloodstream made the difference between keeping it down and vomiting.

Sometimes even that wouldn't work. One night a friend stayed over: he was well aware of me having to lay there for the first 30 minutes and so he gave me that space. He walked around the room and brushed his teeth and kept me company.

But because I talked a little and therefore I didn't stay entirely still - at least I think that's where the problem was - even that was too much and 2 minutes after my mouthful of water I jolted towards the sink and just made it in time whilst he stepped away and observed, with quite some pity I guess. I retreated to bed and started my 30-minute-routine all over, this time quiet.

Through the day it was pretty much the same process, over and over and over again: 15 minutes, mouthful, 15 minutes, mouthful, 15 minutes, mouthful. Every day I had a goal of 1.5 litres of water and two muesli bars, and most days I succeeded in that.

Did I actually like the taste of muesli bars? No. I still think they're held together by so much sugar it makes them sickly but something about the sheer dryness of these bars, that I think it was simply too difficult for my stomach to push it up, worked.

Sometimes when nausea would ease a little I'd have a barely ripe tomato, or a rice cracker, even some dry noodles. The simplest of carbohydrates seemed to stay down better: pasta, dry white bread, unflavored crackers.

On nicer days I'd try bits of "normal food" to help me feel a little more "normal", too, but in all honesty... most of those twice-weekly vomits were precisely from those tries at "normal food", ie whatever The Man was cooking and what looked tolerable.

But then there were other things that made for exceptions.

Because I knew I wasn't meeting even my regular nutritional needs, even apart from the pregnancy, I started taking pregnancy vitamins. You know those $100 packs for a 90-day supply? Those. And because they say that fish oils are such good things for babies I also bought a packet of fish oil capsules.

Oh my dear god...

If usually the rule of vomiting went something along the lines of "if there's enough to vomit out in the stomach, it'll come out" then fish oil capsules, may I tell you, surpassed all that. I swallowed a capsule, not even half a teaspoon of oil in it, and when that capsule had melted in my stomach about 2 or 3 minutes later, the retching that started was... Jesus, I don't even know how to begin to describe that.

I was standing outside some workshops in industrial Queenstown and was bent over in one of their parking lots there, retching and retching and retching. It felt that my stomach was doing everything it could for the oil to come out, but because it was such minuscule amounts of it to begin with, it couldn't quite get it out so it just kept pushing and pushing and pushing. After a while of doing it, rather painfully I must add, I finally grabbed three or four mouthfuls of water to give it some volume to help, and finally got that fish oil out, and didn't dare to touch any of those capsules until I was well into my last trimester.

And, basically, if your pregnancy goes anything along the lines of this description here, the only rule I found was to simply survive, day after day, until it ceases or until birth, whichever comes sooner.

In throes of that pregnancy sickness, I read all books and articles I could find on this topic, desperate for a hint or another that would make it easier. One was a book written by a woman who works in such a large US hospital that her entire job is to work with women who have pregnancy sickness. (Did you notice I don't agree calling it "morning" sickness which I think is entirely misleading and unfair?)

That book was an eye-opener because when I saw that even a woman whose entire career is built around nauseous pregnant women doesn't have a clear-cut answer - because there simply isn't a clear answer yet on what exactly causes it, let alone how to fix it - then I understood that whatever worked and whichever way I got through it, that's what it was going to be.

I do remember one bit though: a woman she was working with said she'd been suggested a herbal remedy to fix the sickness and after trying it found that it didn't just ease it, it eliminated it! And then years later, at a medical conference, this author was listening to a presentation about South-American herbal mixtures and realised that what had helped that sick woman years ago was... a form of cannabis.

Ahem!

And I also remember the anguish of having everyone tell me how it "eases after 12 weeks" and walking into my midwife's office at 12 weeks and her first question being "How are you feeling? Is it getting better?" and bursting into tears right there, shaking my head, and saying, "No, it isn't..."

But, hey, it could've been worse. Even at the time I knew it could be worse because that book I was reading was full of women who had to be hospitalised for extreme dehydration, and kept vomiting pretty much until their due dates, and even then I was, like, "Yeah, mine's not that bad."

This time

This time I am a much more classical morning / pregnancy sickness lady, I think.

There are some hours in some days when I can't tell I'm nauseous at all. It goes up and down, every few hours throughout the day, but I am able to eat a much more varied diet that includes fruit and veggies and even a touch of sausage, though I still heavily rely on muesli bars and the simplest of carbohydrates, ie crackers.

It's funny, actually, because a few days ago Miriam reached out to me by packing a bag of snacks that would help me get through the day. With it she added a note where she said she is hoping it gets better and she is thinking of me. A really heartwarming gesture!

But the funny thing about it is, I teared up not only because of how heartwarming the gesture was, but because there wasn't a single snack that didn't look offputting to me. Like, I've tried, but I haven't touched a single thing in that bag - and we're talking about a proper shopping bag full of stuff! - because the way my tastebuds work at the moment must be so different from what Miriam's tastebuds were doing when she was sick. (The Man is enjoying the snacks alright though. And The Kid.)

I can eat dry muesli/nut bars and simple salted crackers. Between crackers I can get down half an apple, or maybe a pear, or half a carrot, but I do feel not-so-great for a while after I've done that. Most days I've had a sandwich with toasted bread, a bit of butter and a slice of cheese and tomato.

Cream cheese is a no-no, and so are dairy products in general, except cheese. (I can drink hot chocolate thought!) Meat is a no-no unless it's a slice of salami at an hour where I'm feeling good. I've had a few cupfuls of Maggi's Cream of Mushroom cuppa-soup, though I'm not sure if I can have any more after I tried it with some rice and veggies and got totally sick afterwards...

Chocolate is a no-no and so are sweets in general. Rice crackers can go only if they are unflavored. Sour cream and chives potato chips can go in very limited amounts, and so can breads in general. Healtheries ginger tea goes, and so does peppermint tea. Two days ago I even had a Bundaberg, but I didn't feel very flash afterwards...

Although I am not vomiting, I still stick to the general rule of constantly snacking, throughout the day, and drinking every 15 minutes or so. My teeth hygiene is having a meltdown, probably, but oh well, tough luck.

And am I, yet again, running at less nutrition and even calories a day than I need? Yes, I'm pretty sure I am. But! Having learned from last time, I simply need to give myself space and take it easy, and not feel guilty about any of that, and just keep going at whatever works.

Typing this here, for example, is possible because The Kid is watching his second Pixar movie in a day and eating the other half of the apple I didn't finish. I share my crackers with him, simply because he notices me getting snacks and wants some, too. When he comes with a book I read him a book, but then I let him mooch away and do his own stuff somewhere and I just let him be - and I let me be, sitting behind our kitchen table, typing.

I am very blessed in a sense that I am capable of taking care of The Kid this time around, whereas with my previous pregnancy I doubt I would've been able to go un-hospitalised if I had had to take care of children in addition to taking care of me. I am nauseous, up and down most days, but I am not vomiting and I am keeping everything I am eating down. And though retching sometimes, I am able to wash poopy nappies - that sort of stuff!

So whether this piece here generated any useful information to someone who might be needing support when they're going through hard time, I don't know, but in a nutshell, whatever works, be gentle to yourself and take it easy, as much as possible.

I am.

***

Edited to add: totally forgot to include a very important topic before, and that is, tiredness.

It is especially clear this time around (because I am not sick all the time) and the correlation between tiredness and sickness is straightforward, and that is: if I get tired, I get sick. As simple as that.

It is why I've just put The Kid in bed and I'm laying in bed. The kitchen needs tidying, and there's washing waiting to be put out, and other washing to be brought in, but I am tired.

I could already feel it building when I was reading The Kid his bedtime story, but I was quickly approaching a moment where if I had, indeed, gone outside to bring in that washing, after a few minutes I would've not cared because I would've been sitting on the kitchen floor, crying.

And although I know that The Man will be home soon and it'll help him to see the place tidy, I am simply not going to do that. I am not laying in bed out of leisure, I am laying here because of self-preservation, and I am going to take it easy, and I am going to keep taking it easy until I feel better.

5 comments:

  1. Kui mul poeg oli paariaastane, siis haigestus ja tulid lastele omased oksendamishood, kuna siin tekib organismi kuivumisoht, siis kiirabi andis tabletid.
    Antud juhul on ka oksendamiste töttu maole tekkinud tugev ärritus. Kysi arstilt, kas sa vöid väikelastele möeldud oksendamistabletti vötta.
    Tervenemist soovin sulle.

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  2. "Most days I've had a sandwich with toasted bread, a bit of butter and a slice of cheese and tomato." WORD!!

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  3. oh it sucks so much xxx I vomited an average of 3 times a day for the first trimester and it did my head in feeling so sick all.the.time. It's a shame there was nothing in the bag to help xxxx

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  4. I agree that every pregnancy and every woman is different. My mother never got morning sickness (and got her figure back), I got occasional nausea 1st time which stopped at 12 weeks, and horrible nausea second time which stopped when Ian was born. Things helped, but nothing fixed it.

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