Updated: Jun 22
Try morning, noon, and night sickness, with a sprinkle of wake-you-up-in-the-middle-night-to-waves-of-nausea. Yeah, for the lucky few, "morning" sickness is a misnomer.
Mere days after conception and I was definitely feeling pregnant. But I wasn't feeling pregnant in that precious and glowing kind of way. I felt it in that super tired, bloated, sore boobed, and super nauseated type of way.
It's kind of impressive how quickly the body responds, mine as if this tiny foreigner was a food-borne pathogen, of which my body needed to remove through constant vomiting.
hCG, the "Pregnancy Hormone"
Nonetheless, my OBGYN confidently proclaimed that my nagging nausea was a "very healthy sign of the pregnancy." These symptoms were indicative of raising hCG levels, and were to be expected throughout the first trimester.
On a side, hCG is known as the "pregnancy hormone" and plays a vital role in maintaining a viable pregnancy. Be warned that abnormal hCG levels can mark ectopic pregnancies (not growing in the uterus), multiple pregnancies (thinks twins and triplets), and even miscarriages (loss of pregnancy); so, you definitely need to make those early prenatal checkup appointments. Docs will usually monitor your levels and assure you are on the right course.
More Than Morning Sickness?
My pregnancy was healthy, but I was increasingly miserable as the levels of both hCG and nausea continued to rise. By week 5, I was excessively gagging and unable to hold down most foods and liquids. Water was particularly difficult to stomach, as it was voluminous in the stomach. I quickly learned that volume of goods in the stomach ='s barfing. In week 5, I lived off of mandarin orange slices. They were truly the only things I could stomach... the the micro-hydration, the citrus flavor and subtle aroma.
Before you righteously judge me, know that I judged myself far harder than you ever could. I entered pregnancy determined to offer my little embryo only the VERY best opportunity to thrive: rich in prenatal vitamins and wholesome clean foods and free from caffeine, alcohol, additives, pesticides, food dyes, and excessive sugar. My body had a mind of its own. Well, my body actually had a disease.
Hyperemesis gravidarum, commonly referred to as HG, is a debilitating form of "morning" sickness that strikes throughout the day and night and may continue throughout pregnancy. It is marked by excessive nausea, gagging, and vomiting. Diagnostic criteria (AKA, getting insurance to recognize and pay for treatment) includes vomiting to the extent that the patient is dehydrated and malnourished, losing 5% or more of their initial body weight.
In my volunteer work for Beyond Morning Sickness, I served patients who required hospitalization, PICC lines, medicine pumps, and one who even tore her esophagus from chronic vomiting. I served a ballerina who fell to a life threatening 90 pounds, a struggling single mother who could only hold down rice for 3 months, and a desperately miserable young woman who was bed-ridden throughout almost her entire pregnancy. I myself was miserable pretty much up until the date of my delivery, but was very fortunate to have an exceptional OBGYN, great health insurance, and a loving support system in the Beyond Morning Sickness organization.
Effective Solutions for HG
Ever wanted to cancel someone for recommending "ginger" or "saltine crackers," as if you haven't tried every proposed remedy out there?
No? Well, then clearly you have never experienced HG.
Yes? I'm just so very sorry. It is miserable and even potential deadly. You, my dear, are a super hero. You WILL get through this, but you may need a great deal of extra help. I hope I may offer some ideas for relief.
So, what DOES work? Well, brace yourself and accept my apologies... I personally was never able to find complete relief from the nausea and gagging. I lost weight in the 1st trimester, maintained weight in the 2nd, and finally gained16 pounds in the 3rd. I was so insanely concerned and nervous about my insufficient weight gain, despite the fact that my doctor insisted that my baby was a parasite, gobbling up my stored nutrients, depleting me of my reserves, but gaining all it needed to thrive. Did I wholly believe my doctor? Not really. However, I did my best to feed the little one and I am here to help you do the same.
Try these steps, IN ADDITION to staying hydrated and nourished to the best of your ability!
You NEED an exceptional OBGYN. This doctor must hear you and believe the struggle you face. This doctor needs to be prepared to support you more than his average patient and to refer you to home health care that can offer walking IV drips and perhaps even PICC lines to offer additional nutrients.
HG affects about 1% or less of the pregnant population, so your OBGYN may chalk your pleas up to weak, whiny, annoyance. That would be so irresponsible and heartless, but it does happen. To avoid this, do a bit of research to find a doctor in your area who has experience with HG. You may even interview potential doctors by asking what treatments they recommend for HG. You are looking for a compassionate response and ample and educated suggestions.
Visit the HER Foundation website and reach out to the community for support. Note: I have no personal incentive to refer you to HER; I just think they are fabulous. Click on "Get Help Now," which I have highlighted in the picture below. They have volunteers available to help you immediately and a support group that you can join. Connect to know that you are not alone!
Acquire home health care. I received care through Alere and HIGHLY recommend their services. Note: I have no personal incentive to refer you to their services; I just think they are marvelous. Unfortunately, they only serve in the Bay Area of California. You may need to do a little online research to find a home health care service near you. The primary benefits they offer, aside from regularly checking in on your overall health are:
Walking IV drips
PICC line maintenance
Get a bit of relief with these products (please note that although the price is unchanged, I may receive a small commission should you purchase through these links):
Citrus scented essential oils are excellent for masking the odors that contribute to your nausea. I like Now oils because they are 100% pure, yet relatively inexpensive. You can probably smell people's armpits and breath from several feet away. Keep a dab of oil on your wrist and smell that whenever needed.
This trio will
Preggie Pops help to minimize nausea, as they help to keep your blood sugar in the nausea fighting zone between meals and the flavors and scents are pregnancy approved. I did the research for you and found you the most for your money.
The Pulse Band anti-nausea wrist band was a true life saver for me. I pulsed myself whenever the twinges of nausea hit me. I conditioned myself over a few days and was able to significantly reduce the unrelenting discomfort.
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