Let’s first begin by acknowledging that “morning sickness” is a plague upon women that can strike at any time, or in my case, it could be 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But from suffering comes perspective and from perspective comes wisdom. So let me impart what I’ve learned onto you.
- Eat what sounds yummy: The only way I’ve found to get through nausea and food aversions is to eat exactly what you’re craving. If you want bagels, eat bagels. If you want In-N-Out at 10:30am, hit the drive through. If you want Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream at midnight, grab a bowl! I had a friend who survived completely off of Kraft mac & cheese for an entire trimester. I’ve found consistently, that the only foods people can keep down when they’re sick are foods from their childhood. There is comfort in food we grew up on or enjoyed as children. For me, it’s always bagels and matzo ball soup. But some people become worried about gaining weight or not giving their children proper nutrition. In my experience, this simply doesn’t happen. Eat foods that you can stomach and trust your body to give you and your baby whatever nutrients it can glean from the foods you’re eating.
- Eat small, eat frequently: If you’re having trouble keeping food down, try putting small amounts on your plate at a time, going back for seconds, and grazing throughout the day. As a non-pregnant person, I’m a 3 meals, 2-3 snacks kind of person. As a pregnant lady, I’m an eat all day (and all night) person. If I got hungry, I got nauseous. If I got even close to really hungry, I was sick within seconds. I actually had to carry a trash bag around with me everywhere I went, just in case.
- Eat with fresh air: If I could smell food, I couldn’t eat. So I would eat outside or have all of the windows and doors open.
- Breathe through your mouth: I wish I had learned this with the twins, but if you breathe through your mouth it greatly reduces (if not eliminates) your ability to smell odors that might make you sick. I started doing this sometime in the middle of making a million formula bottles and changing a zillion poopy diapers. This basically made it possible for me to be pregnant while changing toddler diapers and making them food.
- Find your smell: Find that one smell that actually makes you feel better. For my first pregnancy, it was cinnamon. I would carry packs of orbit Cinnamint gum around and sniff them (discreetly) whenever I felt sick. For my second pregnancy, it was lavender. I would walk around Trader Joe’s sniffing one of their lavender soap bars because being around all of that food made me sick.
- Order food or grill: The smell of cooking food in my house was impossible to stand. My poor husband couldn’t even make TOAST. So we either ordered food or used our grill outside. You can pretty much cook everything you could ever want on a grill, if you get creative.
- Wear comfy clothes: I had to stop wearing bras altogether. Thankfully bralettes are very popular because having anything tight along my waist and ribcage was unbearable, especially when sitting down. Wear loose, comfortable clothes that don’t press on your stomach or restrict you in any way. As my belly got bigger, I often felt like I couldn’t breathe. Mix this in with the nausea I had, and you can understand why I spent all of my time at home in Yev’s giant t-shirts.
- Take baths or sit in a pool: The only time I was pretty confident I wouldn’t vomit was when I was in the pool. I would sit on the steps of a shaded area, with a big hat on, while my father-in-law brought me hot dogs one at a time to eat. The weightlessness of the pool was a game changer. I would spend my entire weekends just sitting in their pool. But if this isn’t an option, try taking a bath. Water was incredibly comforting and cleansing for me.
- If nothing works: Talk to you OB about medication and see if you’re a candidate. They offer prescription vitamin B, or in my case, Zofran, because I had hyperemesis gravidarum. This is a very big word for I had such bad morning sickness, I felt like I was literally dying most days. So if I wasn’t on medication, I couldn’t even keep water down. And even with medicine, I still had to utilize all of the skills above to get through each day.
- Remember: There are women everywhere who can’t have children, and I tried to keep this in perspective. It helped keep me grateful when I was pregnant. I continued to tell myself, “There are so many women who would give anything to be this sick because it meant they would be a mother; it meant they would be having a baby.”
- Forgive yourself: I can’t tell you how many times I felt like a bad mom because there were times I thought haven’t children wasn’t worth the way I was feeling. I would shower, sobbing, on the tiled floor like a hungover wreck feeling like the worst mother in the world because I just wanted it to all go away. You are not a bad mom for suffering and wondering how you could possibility get through this a single time let alone multiple times if you wanted your kid to have a sibling or two.
I remember feeling like my dreams of having a large family were completely crushed because of my “morning” sickness. I felt like I was grieving the loss of a family I would never have but had always wanted. It was devastating. But you learn that having children is not what you expect, and each moment of suffering actually prepares you for the beautiful moments. You wouldn’t know how to appreciate joy without your darker days. And this puts everything into perspective, as you learn to appreciate this amazing body that carried and birthed these babies. I’ve learned to love myself more after becoming a mom, and I couldn’t be more grateful.