11.17.2012

They Call It "Morning Sickness"

***** This is absolutely NOT- in any way shape or form- to be interpreted as medical advice.  These are things I have tried, under the guidance of my own doctor.  Your situation may be different and what was ok for me to do/try may or may not be safe for you or your little one.  Check with your OB before trying ANY remedies for your nausea. *****

Let's get some things straight here... the term "morning sickness" is a cruel and evil joke (likely coined by some dude who never experienced it).  I would have given my left arm to feel like absolute dog crap only in the "morning".  I actually felt my worst in the evenings and awoke many a night from a dead sleep to go have a face to face meeting with the porcelain goddess.  But I digress...

When pregnant, most women experience some degree of nausea... ranging from the occasional wave of "ugh, I can't eat that" to full blown "I want to barf my brains out" 24/7.  An unlucky few have it to such a degree (known as hyperemesis gravidarum) that they require hospitalization, IV nutrients and/or fluids.  For most, the nausea lasts only through the first trimester, until the placenta takes over providing nutrition for your growing little one and your hormones (sort of!! ha!) level off.  For another unlucky few it can last all the way through the entire pregnancy.  Fun stuff.


My level of (un)luck fell somewhere in the middle, toe-ing the line of hyperemesis and lasting into 22-23 weeks.  I did manage to make it through without IV supplementation, but I did succomb to some pretty heavy duty meds in the end.  But I survived, and you will too.  And in the end, you hold your beautiful baby in your arms and get to thank them personally for making you so sick.

Now that I have had the joy of experiencing this wonderful phenomenon known as morning sickness, and since I now have a few friends who are learning the ropes, I thought it would be a good time to write down and pass on my knowledge as far as treatments go.

Before you get all excited... there is no magic cure.  What worked for me may not work for you.  And what works for you today may send you running to the toilet tomorrow... because, you know, Mother Nature likes to keep us on our toes.  There were several things that made me feel slightly better one day then didn't help at all the next.  

Basically...  aside from the "cures" listed below, the key is really to never have a completely full or completely empty stomach.  Easier said than done when you don't really feel like eating at all.  But try to nibble on dry, bland snacks (pretzel sticks, bagels, crackers and toast were my menu for weeks) throughout the day.  Keep a stash of snacks on your nightstand and munch a little when you wake up to pee 16 thousand times in the middle of the night.  SMALL bites and SMALL sips as often as possible.  Full OR empty usually spells trouble.

  • Sea Bands-  These can be picked up at Target or Babies R Us.  They are elastic bands with a small plastic doo-hickey that applies pressure, when properly positioned, to a key acupressure point on your wrist.  These didn't work wonders for me, but maybe took the edge off a little.  I wore them at work (only able to hide if you wear long sleeves, otherwise a dead "OMG You're knocked up!" giveaway)... and they helped a little when I couldn't carry around snacks/drinks all the time.   
  • Ginger Stuff- Ginger candies, ginger teas, ginger snap cookies, candied ginger- This stuff actually works!!  I wasn't so much a fan of the tea, but the candied ginger, cookies and the candies really helped me out.  I drove all over Syracuse hunting these bad boys down before I realized you can order them online in bulk.  I now have enough stashed away to last through my next pregnancy, lol. 
  • Coca Cola- Yep, you read that right.  Coke.  (Those who know me well, go ahead and pick yourself up from the floor.  I know I know, I NEVER drink soda... but this was an act of desperation, suggested by my OB, so I went for it!)  The real stuff with the red label, NOT diet, calorie free or any other knock off.  "But I shouldn't drink any caffeine" blah blah blah.  First of all, my OB was a fan of the "everything in moderation" concept.  Second, back in the day (feel free to check with your parents or grandparents) Cola Syrup was the magic cure-all for all sorts of tummy ailments.  Cola Syrup = the base for Coke.  Ta-daa!!!  So yes, this was actually probably one of the best suggestions my OB gave.  She said to drink a SMALL sip every few minutes when I felt crappiest.  A bottle should last several hours at this rate, which is well under the recommended/allowable "moderate" amount of caffeine intake allowed.
  • Don't Drink Plain Water- I'm just getting crazier and crazier, aren't I?  First drink soda, now don't drink water... but hear me out.  When you put plain water in your stomach, especially an empty or almost empty stomach, your belly thinks "Oh yay!!  Something to digest" and the stomach starts a-churning and the stomach acid starts a-bubbling.  Next thing you know, you feel gross again.  Now, I am not saying don't drink water... because it is very very important to stay hydrated- especially during pregnancy... but put some sort of flavoring in it... Crystal Light packets, lemon slices, peppermint, Mio... anything.  Next.
  • Change Up Your Prenatal- Unfortunately, one of the things that we need to provide nutritional support often makes us so sick that we get even less nutrition.  If your PNV makes you gag, try changing brands, switching to gummies or taking it at a different time of day (at night, right before bed worked best for me for a little while).  If all else fails, try switching to a children's vitamin (without Iron, since Iron is usually the culprit behind vitamin related nausea) until your stomach can handle the prenatals again.  As good as they may be for you and baby, if they are making you throw up what little food you can eat, they may be doing more harm than good.  As soon as you feel the slightest bit better, make sure you switch back to the prenatals again!!  
  • Doxylamine (Unisom) + B6-  In Canada they actually sell a medication (Diclectin) that is basically this exact combination and it is very effective for morning sickness.  It was pulled from the US market years ago, but the research was questionable.  I think it was more a "better safe than sorry" situation.  In any case, there are many studies proving the safety and efficacy of this combination.  Under my OB's guidance, I gave this a shot when the ginger and Coke was no longer doing the trick and it really worked well for me for several weeks.  I took 1/2 B6 in the morning (bonus, B6 is also good to help with energy level) and 1/2 Unisom (the tablet, NOT the gel cap... check the ingredients to make sure it is Doxylamine) at night.  Not only did I sleep better and feel a little more energetic (probably because I could actually eat!) but I was able to hold down some of my food.  Woot woot!!
  • Prescription Medicine-  I have never ever been a fan of medication (strange for a nurse, huh)... and I definitely did not want to take any unnecessary meds while pregnant.  Well... about 6 weeks into around the clock puking with no end in sight and having tried every single old wives tale and non-pharmacological anti-nausea trick in the book, I found myself begging my OB to give me the good stuff.  Zofran.  I researched until I was satisfied and had a good heart to heart with my OB and was assured that this was safe for me and baby.  I started on a small dose and eventually ended up taking them every 4 hours to get me through the worst of the nausea.  It did help and I was glad I finally agreed to give modern medicine a chance.
So that's it, in a nut shell.  I hope that this information can be helpful, as always, check with your OB first before trying anything.  

Remember... this, too, shall pass.  And in the end, that sweet little baby is worth everything blood vessel popping, puke out of your nose, everything I smell makes me want to toss my cookies, miserable moment.  And believe it or not... when it's over... you will be more than happy to do it all over again. 

***** This is absolutely NOT- in any way shape or form- to be interpreted as medical advice.  These are things I have tried, under the guidance of my own doctor.  Your situation may be different and what was ok for me to do/try may or may not be safe for you or your little one.  Check with your OB before trying ANY remedies for your nausea. *****