Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Morning Sickness

As a doula, women tend to ask me for help or advice with a lot of things. Morning sickness is one of them.

By far, it has to be one of the least pleasant things about pregnancy.

I wonder who named it morning sickness anyway. It's all the time, night or day.

It's also one of the things about pregnancy that can be managed for almost everyone without any medical interventions. I have found that sometimes all you need is distraction. If you are busy with something else, you don't have idle time to sit around and analyze how you are feeling. It's a very psychosomatic symptom - one that your mind can make better or worse fairly easily.

After having my first pregnancy end in a loss, I always found the arrival of morning sickness strangely comforting. Not that I was glad to have it, but I was glad it showed up. Those first few weeks seem like an eternity when you've lost a baby before.

I know a great many women who never really had problems with it. Who sailed through the first trimester peacefully. Who didn't want to wretch every time they pumped gas. Who could brush their teeth without dry heaving. Who could actually set foot into the grocery store without turning three shades of green.

I was like those lucky women once. Twice, really. With Aidan I would occasionally get nauseous, but it was never an overwhelming wave of sickness. I never found myself hugging a toilet. With Ashley I was a little more nauseous, but I only threw up once.

And then I found myself pregnant with Ally, and I didn't need a pregnancy test. I was sick as a dog from over a week before I could even find out if I was pregnant. I was so sick I kept asking the doctor to make sure it wasn't twins. I couldn't eat anything, I couldn't even drink water. I ended up getting IVs a few times, lost over 20 pounds. Fun stuff.

I ruptured the blood vessels in my eyes because I threw up so much. Shudder.

In that lovely 20+ weeks, I tried everything. (Yes, I had morning sickness with her into my fifth month of pregnancy). I wore the sea sickness bracelets. Nothing. I tried eating a cracker or two before I sat up in bed in the morning. That just made it worse. I changed the times I ate, I changed what I ate, and none of it worked. I had to stop taking my prenatal vitamins completely since they made me so sick.

Here are the things that helped get through that time.

- Ginger. The real stuff, not artificially flavored ginger things. Real ginger ale. I found that I couldn't drink much, having too much liquid in my stomach was a trigger too. They make lollipops now, called Preggy Pops with ginger. Those got old quickly, but I found a ginger supplement to take. I wish I could say that this was the cure, but it just helped alleviate it a little.

- Flavored water. I couldn't drink plain water at all. I had to put some lemon juice in it, or a splash of something else. Plain water was nasty. I don't know why, but it was. I found myself eating ice since it went down and didn't come back up. As often.

- Strange combinations. Plain potato chips and lemonade together helps. It's the combination of salt and sugar that does it. Anything with that combination will do the same.

- Mouthwash. If brushing your teeth makes you sick, buy mouthwash. Use it every time you brush, then if you can only stand to brush for a few seconds, you're still getting your teeth clean.

- Figure out what your triggers are and try to avoid them. For some, it's rapid temperature changes, for others it's certain smells. Things you loved before may make you sick now. Just part of the fun.

- Grocery Store Delivery Services. I couldn't even walk in the store. Could. Not. Do. It. Thankfully, these services had just started. Best $10 I could have spent. I'd send Tom every other time, use the service the rest.

- Plastic bags and paper towels. Keep em in the car. Enough said.

- EAT! Morning sickness is made worse by low blood sugar, far worse. Not eating will only make it worse. I had gestational diabetes with all my babies, and the worst by far was Ally. The hypoglycemia would make me nauseous, I wouldn't eat, and my blood sugar just got lower and lower. And I got sicker and sicker. One of those downward spiral things. Do not stop eating, no matter how sick you are. You are far better off to eat and vomit, trust me. Though it might not seem like it, your body is absorbing something.

- Get water in your body however that needs to happen. Dehydration is a bad idea in pregnancy for all kinds of reasons, and you need to avoid it.

- Don't be afraid to ask for help. I refused medication for the nausea, but I've known a lot of women who have taken it. There are many different ones they can prescribe, some work better than others. I often wonder if I would have been better off taking it, since I ended up calling the nurse line several times and in urgent care with IVs a few times for dehydration.

- If you lose more than 5-10% of your body weight, it is too much. Call your doctor.

Remember that for almost everyone, morning sickness will pass by about the 15-16 week mark. Most are done before then. There are a handful of women who have to deal with it throughout pregnancy, and for many of them, medication is the only choice.

I very vividly remember the night my morning sickness passed. I hadn't eaten anything in so long, there were many days all I got down was a cup of chicken broth. I stopped going to the grocery store entirely. Then, all of a sudden, a KFC commercial came on the TV. And I wanted chicken. Even though it was 10pm.

I've never seen my husband fly out the door that quickly. I got my chicken. And let me tell you, having not eaten in weeks, it was amazing.

Morning sickness isn't fun. But it's also temporary. And it's worth it.


  1. May God reward you (thanks), Kelly. It helps to see it in print. I'm trying....

  2. Ginger Beer...not really beer, but Red's Ginger Beer may taste gross, but it is the best.


Some of My Most Popular Posts