Surviving Morning Sickness

As many of you know I work for WIC and am a nutritionist for pregnant women. I love my job and it has allowed me to learn so much about pregnancy and breastfeeding support. This pregnancy I had the wonderful opportunity of getting to try out these tips for nausea and vomiting and throw my personal experience into the mix.

Who has watched the Amy Schumer’s documentary of her pregnancy. That’s how it started at four weeks for me and ended around twenty two weeks. Many women experience nausea and vomiting because it is a side effect of your HCG levels exponential growth. As your HCG levels go up your symptoms worsen. As much as this is terrible it is also the major hormone that helps to sustain your pregnancy. I had a miscarriage before this pregnancy so I welcomed the first signs of nausea as it is associated with a healthier pregnancy. It wasn’t long before that perspective took a stark turn. Morning sickness was not just in the morning. It was like a stomach bug nightmare that consumed me 24/7. I remember thinking sleeping is my only relief. Not eating made me sick and then eating food would make me sick. It got to the point where I would puke about 10-25 times per day and I was desperate for any relief. So what helped me? Ultimately time….. but I have some suggestions that made symptoms decrease and life a little more bearable.

1. Stick to bland foods: plain grains – they are the easiest foods for your body to digest and absorb as they start breaking down in the mouth. Some ideas include- fortified cereals like Cheerios, pretzels, crackers, toast, bagels, plain pasta, rice, etc. In the nutrition world this is pretty close to the BRAT diet.

2. Hydrate: Choose water. Water again is the easiest for your body to digest absorb. If you are puking a lot you might wanna throw Gatorade or electrolytes into the mix. I was waking up 3-5 times at night at one point with leg cramping. Magnesium supplements may be needed too if cramping persists after your hydrated. Many women also find sour to be sweet taste while pregnant, try adding lemon to your water it is a very common drink. I had what I call “taste dysphoria” and water and lemon actually tasted like I was drinking straight lemonade.

3. Keep a Food Log: While I would say there are no “safe foods” because at some point I puked even with safe foods (any of the bland foods I mentioned above) there were certainly foods that would cause severe projectile vomiting. For me meats were a huge trigger that I totally kept missing until I made a log. There were other foods that were problem foods but as soon I cut meat out completely my symptoms improved. Did I still puke daily, yes, but not as violently and I had more “relief periods”.

4. Medications and supplements: Ultimately none of these worked for me but they may work for you. For me any pill I took my body would eventually reject within a ten minute period after the first couple of days of taking it. I did try B6 in 25mg a couple of times per day, unisom, some antihistamines my OBGYN recommended, and finally zophran. Zophran was very helpful but it caused such terrible constipation I would have to use it sparingly or it just manifested another issue.

5. Listen to your body: If there is any time during the day you do feel better try to take advantage of that time. I had a two hour period in the afternoon/pm on some days where I would get a little relief. This is when I would try to eat small frequent snacks and attempt to do any kind of physical activity. Physical activity can improve nausea and vomiting for some people. For me, I would start with a .25 mile walk (before pregnancy I could complete 2-4 mile runs a couple of times per week) and would typically throw up a couple of times within the walk. It was very frustrating but ultimately non movement was better for me until my symptoms were more under control.

6. Small, frequent snacks: Your stomach is on overdrive so you don’t want to be filling it up too much or keep it to empty. This is really hard to balance when you are deprived and very frustrating especially when you are struggling to just figure out what you can eat.

7. Avoid triggers: Smells, cooking, grocery store shopping, candles, sprays, soaps, etc. were constantly triggering me. Get to a neutral zone and sit outside if you can. The more I was outside during the summer the less my symptoms were. Your partner will need to take on a lot but it’s better than holding up your hair, watching you puke every couple of hours. Trust me, they will want to help.

Again, I’m not going to tout any magical cure, ultimately it was just time that took the symptoms completely away. I wish you all the best if you are struggling with nausea and vomiting. This was one of the toughest times in my life to have work through this period, but you will get through this.

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