Monday, 30 September 2013
Surviving morning sicknes
Of all the subjects I've written about since starting this blog - cleaning, cooking, organising - this is one I feel I am qualified to give suggestions on. During my pregnancy with the frog I had hyperemesis, which is extreme morning sickness. I was sick on average every hour, for almost the entire 10 months I was pregnant, leading to my being hospitalised twice. From getting pregnant to giving birth I lost 2 stone in weight (as opposed to the 2 stone you're meant to be putting on). Following the frog's birth I lost a following 3 stone (thanks to breastfeeding and not having an 8lb baby inside me anymore!). This pregnancy has been a lot better and I'm very grateful, but I'm still sick most days. So all that to say, I know what I'm talking about. Here are my top tips:
#1. Don't assume it'll end
For 9 months I had everyone - friends, family, midwives and doctors (even people on the street!) telling me not to worry, that it'll go away at 12 week, 16 week, 20 week... no luck. I was sick until an hour after I had given birth (that came as a shock I can tell you). I spent the whole pregnancy wondering why I wasn't feeling better, thinking maybe I was just being a wimp and wanting to throttle everyone who said "it'll go away soon". I started feeling more able to handle it when I assumed that it was going to last my whole pregnancy. That's what I've done this time around as well, so when I stopped being quite as sick around 16 weeks it came as a lovely surprise.
#2. Work it into your routine
I was always sick after a car journey, so I knew to park at the shops nearest the toilet. My family knew to let me get to a toilet as soon as I got anywhere. It was just something that became part of every day life - I knew I would be sick so made plans. In this pregnancy I don't make plans that involve me going out the house for at least the first few hours if I can help it.
#3. Make it as pleasant as possible for yourself
A strange thing to say, I'll grant you, but there are ways of making the experience slightly less horrific. For me it was having a clean toilet. My amazing husband who had never cleaned a toilet before in his life started doing it a few times a week so that at least the environment was as nice as possible. Take your phone so when you're sitting there deciding if you need to be sick you can be playing a game/listening to music. Take a blanket (I often get the shivers after a lot of throwing up). When you're out, know where the nearest decent toilet is. It might not make it better but it will make it more survivable. I also didn't want people coming in and asking me if I was okay - no I was not okay and did not want to talk to anyone. I make this clear to everyone - my poor husband had to suffer lots of glares when he'd just let me get on with it, but it's what I needed.
#4. Try suggestions
I was so sick with the frog that I got to the point I wouldn't try anything, because I just thought "what's the point?". People's suggestions really annoyed me, especially when they told me to eat little and often. But sickness changes across your pregnancy, and I think some of those things might have helped later on. Ginger biscuits, watermelon, sickness bands - they're all worth a try. Eating little and often is the only thing that stops the sickness in this pregnancy. Also, don't feel too guilty about what you're eating. Of course babies need nutrients but they are amazingly adaptable. The only thing that didn't make me sick with the frog was feta cheese and pesto, so that's basically all I ate. In this pregnancy early on it was peanut butter and bananas. Just do what you can, and be sure to eat more when you feel able.
#5. My silver lining
I had a lot of anxiety during my pregnancy - I constantly worried that something was wrong with the baby. It would keep me up at night and scare me to death. It is true that sickness is a sign of a healthy pregnancy, so every time I was sick I remembered that meant the baby was okay. I can't tell you how much that helped (to the point that when I would go half a day without being sick I would panic that something was wrong). I've been considerably less anxious in this pregnancy, and I've been considerably less sick. I don't think the two are related, all I know is that I don't need that constant reassurance in this pregnancy, and I'm (thankfully) not getting it.
Morning sickness is debilitating. Often seen as a bit of a humorous side-effect, when it goes on for an extended period it's extremely difficult to live with. But live with it you will. Survive it you will. And after the baby comes, no matter how little sleep you're living on or how teary you are, hold on to the fact that at least you've stopped throwing up. It made all the difference for me in those first, difficult weeks.