A recent bout of food poisoning reminded me of the early days of pregnancy. Morning sickness. It started soon after I found out I was pregnant. Except for me, it wasn’t in the morning. It was in the evening. I’d come home from work shattered and would just want to rest. But no matter how much I wanted to relax, I couldn’t. The onset of evening brought about a constant feeling of sickness. I remember the saliva just building up and me not wanting to eat or even talk! Simply opening my mouth made me feel like puking. It was just miserable. My husband and I spent many a silent evenings just watching TV.
To be fair, I was quite lucky. I was only physically sick three times. Some women I know were sick throughout their pregnancy and had to be hospitalised. Their condition was much more serious as they had hyperemesis gravidarum. So to those brave and amazing women, I know I sound like a lightweight. However, for someone who has always been fit, it was emotionally and physically challenging.
The first trimester is a funny stage of pregnancy. I had heard about the ‘pregnancy glow’ but this felt like ‘pregnancy gloom’. I didn’t look pregnant and it was too early to tell people so those around me were a bit confused as to why I was moaning and looking glum. My whole body ached. I was tired all the time and the thought of food just made me nauseous. According to the NHS, 70% of pregnant women will suffer from some sort of nausea/vomitting. But this was of little comfort so I decided to ask my midwife about what I could do at my booking appointment. According to her, it was a reassuring sign that I felt nauseous. Her reasoning being that the more you feel sick, the higher the amount of pregnancy hormones in you and consequently less likely that you will have a miscarriage. Whilst this was indeed reassuring, I smiled through gritted teeth upon hearing it. It wasn’t exactly a solution.
I then went to my GP as my internet research had showed me pills were available. Yes, I thought! We were due to holiday in Budapest later that month and I really wanted to be able to enjoy myself without needing to worry about sickness. However my GP wasn’t very sympathetic. He asked how many times I vomitted (3), how many children I had (0) and what my job was (teacher). His stance was nausea is a normal part of pregnancy, lots of women experience it, this is my first child, my job wasn’t taxing (don’t get me started) so he wasn’t happy to prescribe anything! He went on to say that nothing had been officially tested that was safe to prescribe to a pregnant woman.
Luckily for me, I have a doctor for a husband so was able to convince my GP that I needed promethazine hydrochloride. I wish I didn’t need to drop the doctor card but there was no other way of getting the pills. Plus I really didn’t want to travel abroad without the comfort of knowing I could access some relief.
Thankfully I didn’t need to take them. I trawled through Google to find alternative ways to combat the sickly feeling. Here are my top tips:
- Snacking during the day: I kept a tub of mixed nuts at my desk and nibbled on this through out the day. Not only are nuts super healthy but eating them whilst pregnant can also help reduce allergies in your newborn (see link to BBC article below).
- Mix some cordial in your water: It’s essential to keep hydrated whilst pregnant (especially if you’re being sick) but I found plain water made it worse. My favourite pregnancy cordial was Robinsons Squash Fruit & Barley, Apple and Pear. It’s so light and refreshing.
- Ginger biscuits: I kept these by my bedside and nibbled on one just before going to sleep. I’d also nibble on one when I woke up. This stopped me going to bed/waking up feeling nauseous.
- Early dinner: We usually had dinner around 8pm and then sit on the couch watching TV. But this was making me feel really sick so we decided to have dinner around 6pm. Eating just two hours earlier really made a difference.
- Walks: I’d drag my husband out with me every evening after our dinner and we’d walk for about an hour or so. Not only was the exercise good for me, the fresh air helped aleviate any sickness. It was also lovely spending some time as a couple being able to talk to each other without the usual technological distractions.
- Avoid smells that set you off: You’ll soon learn what smells make you want to hurl. Avoid them at all costs. For me, it was garlic and cumin!
- Sleep on your left: Sounds strange but sleeping on my left was a saving grace! This tip is courtesy of my husband (something to do with how your intestinal tract is shaped and sleeping on your left allows any gasses to surface without causing the juices to come out). Also sleeping on your left increases the blood supply to your placenta so it’s good for your baby too (see article from AmericanPregnancy.org)
There were also a few things that I started to take but further research told me I should avoid:
- Fennel seeds: Chewing on a handful of these really helped keep my sickness at bay. However fennel taken in medicinal quantities can cause uterine contractions so is best avoided
- Mentos: These little mints were initially a life saver. However, the more I had them, the more I’d feel sick. It was worse if I had them on an empty stomach.
- NHS – hyperemesis gravidarum
- BabyCentre – booking appointment
- BBC – Eating nuts whilst pregnant can curb infant allergies
- AmericanPregnancy.org – Pregnancy sleeping positions
- Natural Health for Fertility – Fennel