Surviving Morning Sickness
By Carrie Lauth
"Just eat a few saltines and you'll be ok."
I don't know about you, but as someone who suffered with prolonged, severe morning sickness (which I affectionately call “morning, noon and night sickness”), when I hear someone say this, I just want to slug them!
If you're suffering with nausea and vomiting of pregnancy,you're not alone. Most women experience it to some degree during their first trimester. If you're one of the unfortunate few whose symptoms last longer than the typical six to 12 weeks, I empathize. I've had the same experience with all four of my pregnancies. I have learned a few things that helped however, and I hope you can get some relief with these tips.
Getting your blood sugar regulated is priority #1. One theory about why morning sickness is worse in the morning (and for some women only occurs then) is because when you wake up from sleep, you have low blood sugar. For some pregnant woman, going eight hours without food is just a bad idea.
You might find it helpful to eat a high-protein snack before bed and even to eat a bite each time you get up in the night to go to the bathroom (which in the beginning may be quite frequent!). Personally, I found that what I did first thing in the morning was of paramount importance. I had to eat a few bites of food while still lying down. So I either put some food on a plate beside my bed or asked my husband bring me a snack first thing in the morning.
Don't jump out of bed. Eat your snack slowly and lie still for a few minutes afterwards. Then slowly get up and immediately go to the kitchen and eat another bite. Again, emphasize protein.
Avoid foods that cause rapid blood sugar shifts. Fruit juice, sugary snacks, processed cereal (the kind that comes in a box), anything made with white flour ... These types of foods cause your blood sugar to rise rapidly, then come crashing down, triggering nausea and vomiting. Eat protein-rich foods and whole foods. Meat, cheese and yogurt (be careful here — try plain yogurt with frozen berries mixed in; most yogurt has way too much added sugar), eggs, nuts, nut butters, veggies and whole grains should be your staples.
Even if eating doesn't appeal to you, coaxing yourself to eat a little bit of a protein food every two hours will help prevent vomiting. Don't leave the house without carrying a snack with you.
If drinking water makes you sicker, try these alternatives. It's very important that you stay hydrated. You're going to need extra fluids to support the pregnancy, but many women find that drinking water makes them more nauseated. Some things to try:
• Smoothies made with fruit, ice and plain yogurt or kefir. The tangy flavor of these two dairy products really hit the spot for me. They also sneak in some extra protein.
• Water served very cold with a squeeze of lemon or lime.
• Carbonated water with a small amount of fruit juice for flavor.
• Weakly brewed iced or hot tea with lemon. The small bit of caffeine won't harm your baby. Something about the bitter tannins in tea may help ease nausea.
• Citrus fruits and melons.
Avoid nausea triggers as much as possible. Your nose is on hyperdrive during early pregnancy. Stinky smells like poopy diapers, kitchen trash and even morning breath may be impossible to totally avoid, but try your best to avoid smelly situations. Have someone else take out the trash. Have hubby change your toddler when he's home. It's the least he can do!
And don't be shy about telling someone who has bad breath, noxious perfume or cigarette smells on them that you're in a delicate condition and need some fresh air. During my pregnancies, my husband had to switch to unscented deodorant and soap — otherwise, I couldn't hug him!
If cooking smells make you ill, take a break from your usual garlic and onion specialties. Don't be a martyr. Hubby will understand that you can't make his favorite sausage and peppers for a while. Prepare meals that won't stink up the kitchen. Green main dish salads with cold, cut-up chicken, steak or hard-boiled eggs. Sandwiches are good, too.
Try aromatherapy. Put a couple of drops of lavender, mint or lemon essential oil (these oils are generally regarded as safe to use during pregnancy) on cotton balls and keep these in various locations — the kitchen, bathroom, your purse and the car. Take a whiff when you feel sick. Put a few drops on your pillow.
Take it easy — but don't forget exercise. Exercise is the last thing you want to do when you can hardly get your face out of the toilet! But if you force yourself to take even a 10-minute walk outside every day, it will help. But do try to take it easy, avoid stress as much as possible and rest as much as you can. You're doing the very important job of growing a baby. Explain to your other children why you're feeling poorly and that it won't last forever. Call in favors and ask friends to come over to play with your 2-year-old for an hour so you can sleep, or ask them to cook extra when they make dinner tonight and bring you a dish.
When you feel a bout of nausea coming on, try to lay down for a few minutes in a dark room with your eyes closed. Sometimes if you do this, the episode will pass.
Focus on the positive. Sometimes when you're so miserable, it's easy to forget what's making you so sick. Remember that statistically, women who experience nausea and vomiting of pregnancy are more likely to carry the pregnancy to term. One of my midwives told me that she always worries when a mom comes in for her first prenatal feeling wonderful, because the chances of her miscarrying are higher.
So rejoice in your strong hormones! Read pregnancy magazines, birth stories on the internet, look through maternity clothing catalogs — do whatever you need to do to cheer yourself up and get yourself in the mood for a new baby.
Still more tips for coping
• Try eating candied ginger or sipping ginger tea. I found ginger in capsules to be too harsh and they hurt terribly if they did come back up.
• Brewer's yeast capsules work for some moms.
• Try sucking on lemon slices when you're feeling a wave of nausea.
• Sip mint tea or chew mint gum to help dry up excessive salivating that may trigger nausea.
• If you have trouble brushing your teeth due to an overactive gag reflex, switch to using baking soda for awhile. The foaming of regular toothpaste may be too much. And brush your teeth in shifts if you need to: first the top teeth, then a few minutes later the bottom teeth, then your tongue and so on.
• Avoid getting overheated or chilled. Extremes in temperature can trigger vomiting.
• Try Sea-Bands, available at large drug stores. They're designed for motion sickness but help some pregnant women.
• Go with your cravings, within reason. For some reason, pizza and Taco Bell always hit the spot during my pregnancies.
• Clean the toilet daily, even if it's the only household chore you can do right now. Better yet, have someone else do it. And wear your hair up for awhile. If you're going to be throwing up, at least you will have your hair out of the way and a clean bowl to hug.
© Carrie Lauth
Carrie Lauth, mom of four, publishes a free newsletter for moms doing things the natural way. Get your copy plus free subscriber goodies at Natural-Moms.com.