Sick: the Shadow of Nausea

Dear friend,

I’m so happy that you’re pregnant.

And I’m so unhappy to hear about your debilitating nausea. I know what it’s like.

I don’t know what you’ve already tried, so I’m sorry if this just repeats things you already know. But knowing how awful the nausea is, I thought it best to write down EVERYTHING I could think of.

So, here are some ideas:

1. Keep your blood sugars up. If you hit upon a food item that you are able to eat, just keep trying to snack on that as often as you feel able. Sometimes, for me, it was much easier if someone else thought of what to feed me. So see if you can get whoever is around to cook for you and feed you – even snacks. Don’t feel guilty. It’s a difficult time and that’s an easy way they can help you.

2. Drink cordial, perhaps? I found it nigh-on impossible to drink water without vomiting. But somehow cordial was easier. Especially home-made lemon cordial. It was a life-saving hydration tool for me.

3. Walk. Many times in the early stages of my third pregnancy I would ring help-lines in tears because of the nausea. One day I spoke to a nurse who used to care for cancer patients. She said that exercise is very good at taking the edge off pain, and that this can help with nausea too. Every morning (after vomiting and breakfast), I would go for a walk around the block. As slowly as I liked. The fresh air did me good, physically and mentally. And the walk itself became something positive to look forward to. It was probably the one time in the day that I felt slightly ok.

4. Friends need to know how you feel. Many will not understand how painful the nausea is, and what a bad place it can take you to (mentally). But I had four amazing friends who let me lie on their couches one day per week, and helped me look after my other two kids.

5. Counselling. I desperately needed this while I was at rock-bottom. I was blessed that I already had a brilliant counsellor.

6. Prayer. Is there anyone you can ask to pray for you?

7. Cleaning. Don’t do it. Pay someone else to do it if you can afford it. Otherwise, if there really is no-one else who can do it for you short-term, you may need to adjust your standards of cleanliness until you feel better again. Although the pregnancy seems long, it will not seem so in the long run. Even if things are tough for a year, they will get better.

8. Anti-emetic medications? I was on one. It really didn’t work. But may be worth a try. It certainly helps with mild nausea.

9. Natural stuff. I took a Morning Sickness Formula. This, again, really only helps with mild nausea. But you never know when a combined effect will break through. Vitamin B6 is also recommended.

10. Iron. If your iron levels drop and you have trouble tolerating iron supplements, try a liquid. There is a brilliant mineral water supplement found in good chemists. Much nicer on your tummy than the usual iron supplements.

11. The passage of time. If there is one thing guaranteed to take the nausea away, it is this. I know that’s really annoying to read, when you’re in the early stages of pregnancy and you might have to put up with this for another few weeks. But the good thing is that no-one and nothing can stop time from passing. Each day you survive, your little one is bigger and stronger and closer to meeting you.

HOLD ON to the reason you are going through this. I contemplated all sorts of awful things. I was that desperate. Don’t feel bad if your mind has gone down those paths. It’s natural to want it all to go away. What matters more than your wandering thought-patterns is the actions you have taken.

Try to look forward. Right now, it’s really, really hard. Because it seems like this will stretch on forever. But it won’t. It WILL get better. And you WILL have something amazing at the end of it.

I can honestly say that the first trimester of my third pregnancy was the worst time of my life. I can also say that my son has made up for that in full measure every moment he has been alive since then.

He is my happy ending.


4 thoughts on “Sick: the Shadow of Nausea

  1. I can hardly read this without feeling the nausea rising up. I was sick the whole way through with both girls and it is indescribably debilitating, mentally & physically. Good tips-I hope they help your friend.

    • Thanks K. Sorry about triggering that. I had a similar experience just writing it! I had a few friends in mind writing this. I hope they find some relief soon too.

  2. Hear hear! These *are* good tips.
    So many awful memories of nausea for both my pregnancies. It was quite violent for me – the actual being sick part – and that was upsetting for my toddler 2nd time around. Many awkward moments when I couldn’t stomach meals at other people’s houses, and feeling like a social black hole, if that makes sense. It was difficult that I couldn’t tell my work colleagues, as this mostly happened up until the 3 1/2 month stage.
    But things improved after that!

    • Good to hear from you L. I’m pleased to find that someone else thinks these are good ideas to try.

      I didn’t even bother visiting other people in the first 4 months. Too difficult! So I do know what you mean about a social black hole. The good thing is that it passes.

      As for work, well…I didn’t work between kids. I wouldn’t have been able to, third time around. Unless someone wanted to pay me for lying on a couch looking like puffy death. Then I would’ve been a model employee.

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