First Trimester + Morning Sickness Survival

>> Thursday, May 3, 2018

I am by no means an expert on all things pregnancy, but I do feel like I have a good handle on the first trimester. And by that, I mean, I've suffered through pretty brutal morning sickness on four separate occasions. Of course I don't know how to CURE it, but I have developed some tactics that make weeks 5 through 13 at least a bit more bearable. I don't think these will work for everyone. But I figure if you haven't tried some of these things, they may be worth trying.

Accept that you may feel really sick. I would say the vast majority of my friends haven't had terrible morning sickness. And this makes vomiting several times a day feel very isolating. You feel like you won some sort of awful lottery. I found when I felt sorry for myself or dwelled on others' good fortune that I would feel much worse. Getting out and about and trying to power through actually helped. Some people get sick. Some people don't. Some people get only mild sickness. There's such a range of normal.

My morning sickness tricks:

  • Mix water with lemonade (I got the Newman's Own Organic kind). I couldn't stomach plain water this time around. And the lemonade helped my nausea.
  • Take gum everywhere you go. Or hard candy. Find SOMEthing that helps take the edge off when you hit  wave. There's nothing universal that works.
  • Consider carrying a plastic grocery bag in your purse or diaper bag for emergencies. Yes. I've puked in my car on several occasions.
  • Lay down as often as possible. I realize if you work FT this isn't easy. I used to take short naps in my office at work when I was pregnant with Ada. This time around, I laid on the couch -- puke bucket nearby -- while Eloise roamed around the living room. I gated everything off so it was safe and would rotate toys every few days. I'd play with her from my post and it's surprising how much you can interact this way! 
  • Eat what tastes good when you can. I see all these "HOW TO EAT THE BEST FOR PREGNANCY" advertisements on my Facebook lately. Dude, that stuff makes me feel HORRIBLE. I tried so hard to keep eating vegetables and other healthy things in the first trimester and all I ended up doing was throwing up. So, getting some food town trumps throwing up healthy food. Now that I'm in the second trimester, I've replaced all carbs with lots of healthy stuff. But seriously, don't put the pressure on yourself. Your baby is getting a lot from your nutritional stores and your multivitamin.
  • Consider skipping your vitamin for a while. Yeah. This sounds counterintuitive, but I did switch to gummy vitamins without iron with Ada and Eloise's pregnancies. This time around since I know have the MTHFR mutation, I skipped vitamins and continued taking only vitamin D and a special methyl-friendly folate supplement. I'd take the full vitamin regimen when I could stomach it. And now I'm fully back on it at 14 weeks.
  • Don't spend too much money on gimmicks. There are probiotics that claim to help. Sea Bands, which do NOTHING for me. Special morning sickness candies, teas, etc. None of this stuff has worked for me. I guess it's worth a try, but don't go broke.

Don't ignore symptoms or think everything you feel is pregnancy related. When I was pregnant with Eloise, I was peeing every five seconds in small amounts. I had a lot of pain and pelvic pressure. I figured it was just due to being pregnant. It went on for weeks and I finally decided to speak up. Come to find out, it's not normal to always feel miserable in the first trimester. And I ended up having group B strep UTIs my entire pregnancy. This time around, I have absolutely nothing like that going on. So, if you don't feel well or think something's amiss, chat with your doctor sooner rather than later.

B6 + Unisom under your doctor's guidance. I'll be completely honest that I don't feel this was the miracle cure for me. That said, the Unisom in particular really helped me get to sleep at night and take the edge off my exhaustion during the day. I found when I was less tired, I was also less nauseous. Your doctor can give you guidelines for how many milligrams to take and when. I have seen several approaches. I took a whole tab of Unisom at night with 25 milligrams of B6.

Let your child watch a little a lot of TV. I know there are differing views on this, but to survive, there were weeks when Eloise and Ada watched a lot of TV. If I felt well, I'd try to make the most of it. But in the scheme of life . . . I don't think several weeks of television is going to make or break my kids. Here's a list of Extra Gentle TV Shows for Toddlers/Preschoolers if you need suggestions. We watched Sesame Street on Hulu, and I think it's a great show.

Exercise when you can. I found that continuing with exercise really helped me feel like I was still human. It's been different in every pregnancy, though. With Ada, I had nothing else going on so I could run whenever I wanted and rest whenever I wanted. With Eloise, Ada was in preschool and working out in the mornings often felt the best -- so it was easy. This time around, it was ROUGH. Winter was super long and that meant that stroller running was out of the question. I still was able to keep up with about 12 miles of running each week and some 30 minute sessions of YouTube Barre or yoga sprinkled in. I usually get this hour-long high after working out and my nausea would temporarily subside, so I'd take full advantage and try to eat something good-ish.

Make a count-down calendar. Since this wasn't my first pregnancy, I sort of knew that my nausea tends to subside around 13-14 weeks. I still get bouts of it from time to time, but it's been strangely similar each time. So, I made a paper calendar where I would physically cross off the days as I got closer to the second trimester. It felt overwhelming in the first weeks, but after a while it really helped to see that it would be over soon.

Have your partner cook as much as possible, etc. For me, this wasn't really possible because of track season. Even talking about food for several weeks would get me dry-heaving. So, whenever Stephen was home for dinner -- he knew he was cooking it. Otherwise, I stocked up on lots of healthy heat-up options like organic, low-sodium soups, Mac + cheese (that I'd do with frozen veggies), whole grain toaster waffles, and other really quick meals that required like no prep and no interaction with the food. It sounds awful saying I didn't cook for my kids for that long, but I seriously just couldn't. We got into a good groove, though. Whole fruit does wonders in a pinch.

Ask for help. I flat out begged my parents to come hang out with me on long days when it was really bad. I mean, they wanted to visit anyway, so it was a win-win. But if you face really long days alone with kids when you have bad morning sickness, take offers from friends or family to watch your kids or just help out. It feels weird at first, but it can do wonders just having a little support.

Remember: You're doing the best you can. It's easy to go hard on yourself for not doing lots of Pinterest art projects, cooking expert meals, or being like an A+ mom in all regards. But you're pregnant and likely feeling quite awful. It will end -- hopefully soon. Again, this is a blip on the radar of your entire life. Most likely, your kids won't remember you having to check out temporarily. Do what you need to do to survive.

Also: Revel in the times when you thrive -- and try not to worry that means something is wrong with the baby. If you feel well, try to eat something or get some exercise. Enjoy those moments of relief. Take it from me, I was wickedly ill and still miscarried . . . so I do not believe that morning sickness strength is always the indicator of a healthy pregnancy. And the reverse, then, would also not mean that having no morning sickness means something is wrong.

Do you have any tips to share? 

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