Coping with pregnancy sickness

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It turns out that Hollywood has totally misconstrued my entire understanding of pregnancy. This is how I thought it worked… you do a test & depending if comedy or romance – you’re reaction is either joy or shock (mine was the latter). Quite unobtrusively and only in the mornings, there will be random bouts of throwing up, whereby you are forced to empty your stomach into nearby plant pots before carrying on with your day as though all is well with the world.

Here’s the reality:

‘Morning’ sickness is a complete misrepresentation. Yes, if nausea is going to strike, it may well get you in the morning, as well as the afternoon, the evening and at sporadic intervals throughout the night. I would personally like to see ‘morning sickness’ rebranded, as to avoid any misunderstanding, to just ‘sickness’. Or, if a literal translation was entirely necessary, I’d rename it ‘all consuming relentless constant sickness’ or ARCS for short.

It’s fair to say that I was struck by ARCS pretty hard. Within days of taking the test up until 14 weeks. The best comparison I can find to describe it is to think back to one of the worst hangovers you have ever had. The kind that renders you entirely useless, with the only motivation to drag your weary self out of bed is to throw up and spend the rest of the day in the fetal position on the bathroom floor. Not everyone gets it this bad but then there are others who not only can get hospitalised from the condition, formally known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum, some can have it for the entire 9 months! I was lucky!

Here are a few tips that I found really helped me, if you find yourself suffering from sickness during your pregnancy:

- Dry biscuits. Doesn’t sound all that appealing but they work. I kept them by the bed as it was the only way I found that helped me to get out of the bed in the morning. And don’t stop eating. I know it seems counter productive, but keeping your blood sugar regulated does help. Ginger biscuits were particularly effective.

-Tell your boss that you are struggling. We decided to keep our pregnancy quiet until our 12 week scan. However, I had no option but to tell my colleagues (the morning I took the test was my first day!) earlier than everyone else, just to explain my behaviour. Not only was it a huge relief, but they were also extremely understanding and allowed me to work from home on the days when the daily commute was too much to handle.

- Rest when you can. Don’t feel like a failure or try to be a martyr. Your body is working really hard creating the right environment to grow another life. It can really take it out of you. If a day in front of the TV is what you feel like doing, it’s probably what you should do. You can catch up on emails and do the washing later.

-Don’t let it beat you. There were days when my husband would come home from an entire day at work to find me exactly as he had left me in the morning. In my pyjamas with my head down the toilet. I’d complain that I wasn’t good at being pregnant, that I couldn’t do it and if I couldn’t even handle being pregnant, how on earth could I be a mother!? I’m sure hormones, exhaustion and dehydration played a part in this, but once I decided that I could do it, that it was only temporary and that it was all for my baby, I started to feel a bit better. Nothing like a positive attitude to help turn a bad situation around.

-Sea Bands. I wore them pretty much constantly and they definitely eased the symptoms a little. I was willing to give anything a try though.

-Your husband/boyfriend/partner will not understand and it’s not really his fault. I found this one particularly challenging. Here I am, struggling to make it through the day, unable to walk the dog without publically vomiting and he has the audacity to say (and I quote) ‘I think you are being a bit dramatic now’. Not only had I mentally signed the divorce papers, but I also worried myself with the internal rage that burned inside of me. I can imagine it’s a bit of a drag trying to support someone who can’t go an hour without being ill, especially when it’s something you are biologically unable to ever experience. My suggestion of coping with unsympathetic partners is to give them some information to read, so they understand that you are not being ‘dramatic’ for the sake of it and not to call the family lawyer. Once you feel better, you will forgive him. I promise.

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