Green, sick, and awful, that’s how I have always felt the first few months of my pregnancies. Someone even accused me of being a glutton for punishment because I volunteered for so many! Of course, I know the benefits outweigh the difficulties, but it’s hard to stay positive when you are in a continuous stage of agony. I was even hospitalized a few times with extreme morning sickness!
Photo by Gabor Monori on Unsplash
Since ladies have been asking, I thought it a good idea to address the subject with a post.
Please note: My knowledge and the advice I am giving here is based on anecdotal evidence, or personal experience. It is not meant to be medical advice based on scientific research.
Actually, there have been two goals I focused on during the first trimesters of pregnancy:
Goal #1: Prevent Hyperemesis Gravidarum
What is this? Well, it is something a bit more serious than feeling bad.
Read this from the Hyperemesis Gravidarum Education and Research (HER) site:
a debilitating and potentially life-threatening pregnancy disease marked by rapid weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration due to unrelenting nausea and/or vomiting with potential adverse consequences for the mom-to-be and the newborn(s).
Goal #2: Keep misery at bay so I can do life 🙂
I don’t think I need to explain this too much. Mothering a whole brood of children means there are no “sick days.” Meals must be prepared, clothes washed, and children kept out of danger no matter how Mom feels. In one way this seems unfair, but I have come to understand that having such responsibilities has probably saved my life, literally!
So, here are 15 ways I have tried to not only cope, but thrive during the challenges of the first few months, and a bit of advice to those who are experiencing them.
#1 Eat whatever you can keep down.
Go ahead, revel in those potato chips, or French fries. One pregnancy I craved Salisbury steak TV dinners!
#2 Throw up first thing in the morning, and then don’t throw up the rest of the day.
This is a head-game I played with myself. First thing in the morning my stomach was empty, there was no liquid or food that I was losing. I could throw up to my heart’s content! It may have even been beneficial; I could have been getting rid of any toxins that had concentrated there during my sleep.
#3 Eat Power Bars (or similar protein bars).
I nibbled on these all-day-long. Kept my energy up while giving my stomach something to work on besides its own lining.
#4 Lemon and lime it
Drinking water containing one or more of these fruits every few minutes really helped. You can buy the juice bottled in most grocery stores. Sam’s sells lemon juice in bulk (lime is a natural anti-emetic).
Trick: buy the bags of lemons and/or limes, wash and slice them and freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet, then gather and bag them in Ziplocs in the freezer. Then you can just reach into the freezer and pop one or two in a cold glass of water whenever you need to.
#5 Ginger is your best friend.
I did this one in just about every form I could find. My first choice was crystallized ginger from the health food store, my second was ginger chews, but I also put the powdered variety directly into my hand and swallowed it.
Some women swear by them–try this site for the low-down.
#7 Take a trip.
This is one of my favorite suggestions. Every time I took a trip while in my first trimester I experienced immediate and continual relief for the duration of the excursion.
It takes a little bit more to plan if you are including the whole family, but the wellness you feel will more than make up for it! My husband had to travel a few states away for a Bible conference for over a week smack dab in he middle of morning sickness with our 14th child. We took all of the children with us and enjoyed the accommodations of a very nice hotel; no cooking or cleaning that really mattered and the freedom to explore a new city or go swimming during the day. I felt wonderful the entire time!
#8 Relax your schedule.
Pressure and overwhelming feelings exacerbate morning sickness. Get rid of anything that isn’t essential and slow down.
#9 Read, to yourself and to your kids.
Reading relaxes your gastro-intestinal tract–that’s why people use the bathroom as a reading room.
#10 Surround yourself with fresh smells.
I have a theory that pregnancy nausea is caused by the body producing massive amounts of chemicals to prevent the baby from being seen as a “foreign object” and attacked by the immune system. These chemicals then overwhelm the liver’s ability to strain out toxins, and hence the feelings of toxicity, including the need to vomit to get rid of the unwanted chemicals.
Since smell is one of the ways we root out what is bad for us, we naturally become overly sensitive to anything noxious during this time. That’s why we need to surround ourselves with everything “fresh,” such as melons, lemons, limes, etc.
An old perfume that my grandmother recommended to me is Jean Nate. It is essentially the scent of lemon, something that is on the fresh scale and soothes the stomach while keeping you smelling fresh.
#11 When you really can’t keep anything down, try the “Ten-Minute Club.”
Did you know that dehydration will increase nausea? It’s a vicious cycle; you vomit because you can’t keep food or drink down, so you vomit because you couldn’t keep food or drink down.
Here is the trick I use with the entire family when someone is experiencing the dry heaves:
- Wait 1/2 hour after vomiting before drinking anything
- Set a timer and drink not more than two tablespoons of water every 10 minutes for a period of two hours.
This always works wonders and keeps us from having to run to the emergency room for an IV.
#12 Try some peppermint.
Read this from the University of Maryland Medical Center:
Peppermint (Mentha piperita), a popular flavoring for gum, toothpaste, and tea, is also used to soothe an upset stomach or to aid digestion. It has a calming and numbing effect, and is often used to treat headaches, skin irritation, nausea, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, flatulence, and anxiety associated with depression. It is also an ingredient in chest rubs used to treat symptoms of the common cold. In test tubes, peppermint kills some types of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, suggesting it may have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Menthol and methyl salicylate, the main ingredients in peppermint, have antispasmodic effects, with calming effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Several studies support the use of peppermint for indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome.
#13 Find out when you are most energetic and use those hours to get things done.
It may take a few weeks, but you will eventually see a pattern to how you feel. You may do better in the morning hours, or the evening may be your time of relative normality. As soon as you figure it out, plan accordingly. Take it easy the rest of the day, maybe do a little planning so you can be as efficient as possible, and then hit the house full-force for the few hours you feel great.
#14 Sleep in a little longer.
Even a half hour can make a world of difference in how you feel the rest of the day.
Tip: Make a “breakfast bar” of food choices that your children can make for themselves to buy you that half-hour each day.
#15 Try eating eggs, avocados, potatoes, and dill pickles.
The eggs are a bit of a stretch, but they are such concentrated, vital nutrition that even eating just one is worth the trouble.
Avocados, on the other hand, were pure delight to me! I could eat an entire avocado in one sitting, mashed with a touch of salt and spread on a piece of toast. Turns out they are extremely high in vitamin b-6, something that can make a difference in how our livers deal with toxins.
And dill pickles! How can I count the ways…when I was in the Army working the graveyard shift they kept me from spending the entire night singing into the toilet!
One thing I learned through it all is that women suffering with morning sickness rarely receive any sympathy.
When asked if he was being helpful to his wife, who was in her first trimester, a local pastor replied, “Nah, she isn’t that pregnant yet!”
I suppose I can’t hold others accountable for their lack of compassion, after all, even though I was suffering, I didn’t look sick. Besides, the whole world kept turning; meals had to be prepared, clothes needed to be laundered (and ironed), babies needed to be diapered, toddlers needed to be entertained and supervised, older children needed to be educated, and even the teens needed someone to hold their hands through the crises of life!
Mom needed to be “on the ball.” No downtime, no sick days, not even time off for good behavior. It was so hard to communicate to everyone that it wasn’t just about my stomach; I felt like I was being poisoned all over, with chills and shakes and confusion to boot!
Sometimes all I could do was to wait until everyone was in bed and cry. Then even forming words into prayer was beyond my ability, but He knew. It was then that the Holy Spirit would bring scriptures to my mind:
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
It was often there, at my lowest ebb, that He would meet me, and His Word was like a warm blanket that cuddled my heart. The work that I was doing could not be seen by anyone else; it was private, an intimate secret that only the Creator, the Holy Ghost, could know about.
The scriptures say Christ was perfected by the things He suffered (Hebrews 2:10). Through these experiences, I have become convinced that there is something about suffering that brings about completeness and maturity in ways nothing else can.
For one thing, when I was pregnant, and totally helpless, I learned first-hand the profound meaning of 2 Corinthians 12:9:
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Amazingly, in my most dependent state, power was being perfected!
And what was this power?–the CROSS!
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18
Especially these days, when a woman opens up her life to carrying babies, she is doing more than fulfilling a biological function. She is defying a culture of death, she is a walking testimony to the fact that human beings are worthy of sacrifice and love, our love and God’s love. The costliness of children speaks to their worth.
This is a most holy service of a woman:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Babies are not mere “products of conception,” they are eternal souls, conceived by God. His is the business of creating, redeeming, enjoying, and when we open ourselves to His business, we share in His ministry, His work. What we suffer only adds to the passion:
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Now that I am at the end of my fertility, I can look back with perspective. My oldest child turns 34 this year, and my youngest child plays around my feet, still the age of eight. Along with suffering, I have experienced so much joy that I could burst. Children are the greatest blessings a woman could enjoy, their sweet charms are like bouquets of fragrant roses. My children have kept me going, kept me healthy, kept me so busy I haven’t had time to be unhappy!
I am so glad I was willing to shoulder my cross, even though sometimes my steps have faltered.
It’s the only way, you know, that leads to Heaven; the only way to life is straight through death. It is the way Jesus took when He went to Calvary.
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.