How To Survive When “Morning Sickness” Feels Like Death
I haven’t published a post in awhile because – you guessed it – I’ve been dealing with severe morning sickness. I’m talking about the kind of “morning” sickness that leaves you bedridden for months, vomiting up what feels like every meal you eat, unable to work or drive, and feeling like you are hardly alive or human. It’s real.
This is now my third pregnancy experiencing severe morning sickness. I am 16 weeks and just starting to finally feel some improvement. My current doctor has loosely labeled me with HG (hyperemisis gravidium, a diagnosis for extreme nausea and vomiting in pregnancy) but I don’t know if I officially qualify or not. What I do know is that I’ve experienced life-altering nausea and vomiting for months in each of my pregnancies. During my first pregnancy the nausea hit me so hard that we had to move into my in-laws for several months and I had to take a leave from work. All I could do was sit in a reclining chair and stair at the walls day in and day out. Even looking at a television, phone, or computer screen intensified my sickness due to the flickering light of the screens. Knowing what was coming the second time around we were able to prep a little bit better and stay in our home, but the experience was very similar. My current pregnancy has been just as bad as any.
With all of my pregnancies my doctors have had me on the maximum dosage of a pregnancy-safe nausea med, but they have still been some of the absolute hardest months of my life. Things like just bathing myself or having a converstaion with someone became hard to do and I literally felt barely alive for weeks on end. It’s not an experience I would wish on anyone.
If you’re reading this right now then I’m assuming that you are in the middle of your own difficult experience with morning sickness – and I’m so sorry! Know that you are not alone and it DOES get better. It feels like an eternity until it does and it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re in it, but whether it resolves in your second trimester or lasts until birth, it WILL get better.
I wish I could give you a magic tid bit of information that would take away your suffering and make everything better. Unfortunately, I can’t. However, in this post, I want to share with you some of the tips that I have helped me in small ways as I’ve navigated through 3 pregnancies with severe morning sickness. Surviving morning sickness is one of the hardest things I have ever done, and if any of the little things that helped me can help you too then it’s worth sharing them!
Note: I am not a doctor or medical professional. This post is simply to share my personal experience and lessons learned as I’ve navigated the trial of severe pregnancy nausea. It is not intended to provide any licensed or medical advice.
10 Tips For Surviving Severe Morning Sickness
1. Be honest with people about how much you are suffering
Morning sickness is such an expected symptom of pregnancy that many of us believe we need to just power through. However, powering through on your own with severe morning sickness can be nearly impossible or at the very least extremely miserable. I learned as I walked through severe morning sickness 3 times that the more honest I could be with people around me the more help and understanding I was able to receive. There may be members of your support system who would gladly jump into your mess and help if they knew what you needed or how poorly you were fairing. We were blessed by many friends, family, and members of our church who helped to make us meals, clean up around our house, entertain our older children, and care for my soul as we walked through each of our pregnancies.
2. Be honest with your OBGYN or midwife
Speaking up at your appointments with your OBGYN or midwife during your first trimester can go a long way toward bringing you some relief if you are experiencing severe morning sickness. There are medications available that can help with pregnancy nausea, so make sure that your OBGYN or midwife knows how badly you are suffering. They may be able to prescribe something that helps or get you an IV if you are too dehydrated. I would have been 10x more miserable through each of my pregnancies if I had not had medication to at least help me keep some food down each day. (As a side note – finding a doctor who listens goes a long way as well! If you don’t feel like you are being heard I highly recommend considering another doctor.)
3. Eat anything that seems at all appealing (or will stay down) as often as you can
This is one of those tips that you hear from every article about dealing with morning sickness – but it’s true. Eating often (even when it’s absolutely the last thing you feel like doing!) can help to manage your nausea. If you are suffering from extreme morning sickness I also recommend not trying to stick to any kind of specific pregnancy diet. Eat whatever you can stomach as often as you can. It does help.
I threw up several times a day and found that it helped to stuff my face right after throwing up each time, when my stomach was least volatile. I hated being ruled by food, but eating something every hour to hour and a half did help. If I let my stomach get too empty it almost always led to vomiting. Do your best to keep your stomach full even if it feels like you’re forcing food down.
4. Invest in some items to help you through
There are a few items that I found it helpful to purchase to get me through the first several months of each pregnancy. Having these items didn’t take away the intense suffering or make my nausea better, but in little ways they helped me to navigate and survive the season.
- Barf Bags – have you ever been given a vomit bag at the hospital or at a doctor’s office? I learned by my third pregnancy that you can purchase these bags yourself on Amazon! I barely moved off of the couch while I was pregnant, but if I had to go to a doctor’s appointment or do anything in public it was a spectacle to carry my huge barf bowl along with me. Barf bags are cheap and compact so they are easy to throw in a bag or purse if you have to be away from home. (As an added bonus they are disposable! You don’t have to clean a disgusting throw-up bowl after you puke!)
- Mouthwash – Brushing your teeth is INCREDIBLY difficult when every little thing makes you gag. I found myself doing well if I could brush my teeth every other day. Having mouthwash on hand for the days in between and to use after vomiting helped me to at least keep my mouth somewhat clean. It’s well worth the small investment!
- Facial Cleansing Wipes – I found it difficult to move around almost at all without gagging or struggling not to vomit while I was pregnant. Even simple everyday hygiene tasks like washing my face became very difficult. Having some facial cleansing wipes on hand helped me keep my face somewhat clean without having to bend over the sink every morning trying to scrub.
- Paper Supplies for meals – To me this is a must have before going into a pregnancy! I can’t imagine how big the pile of dishes would have become through each of my pregnancies if we had not had paper supplies to use for meals. When moving around feels nearly impossible, being able to simply throw out dinner plates and utensils instead of loading a dishwasher or standing over a sink is extremely helpful!
Some additional things you may also want to consider if your budget allows for it are grocery delivery services, babysitting help or a nanny (if you have other older children to care for), and house cleaning help.
5. Stay hydrated any way that you can
Staying hydrated, as impossible as it may sound if you’re dealing with severe pregnancy nausea, is key to helping your overall health and for reducing your morning sickness. Find any way that you can to keep your body hydrated! In my first pregnancy this meant eating a ton of italian ice and sucking on gatorade ice cubes. In my most recent pregnancy this meant drinking multiple glasses of lemonade and apple juice daily. (I just COULD NOT stomach plain water.) Some other ideas include juicy popsicles, adding lemon to ice water, or drinking flavored sparkling water.
6. Be OK with letting yourself and your house go
This one was a hard reality for me through each pregnancy. However, even if I had wanted to I could not have kept up after my house or my own appearance while sick. Simply by necessity, I had to let them go. By my third pregnancy I came to a better place of acceptance that it simply had to be that way. Getting a shower was a nearly impossible task for me, so my own hygiene had to suffer for the sake of my survival. There was also no possible way that I could bend over and pick up the toys and trash that ended up all over my floor without throwing up, so they simply had to stay there. It’s EXTREMELY hard to watch yourself and your home “slip away” while you are fighting to survive, but it is for a season.
There will come a day again when you can take care of your home and personal vanity – and you will be able to recover them over time. For now, simply focus on surviving.
7. By all means try natural solutions
When my severe morning sickness hit in my first pregnancy I tried anything and everything suggested to me to help – essential oils, sea bands, raw ginger tea, preggy pops – you name it, I tried it. Nothing seemed to bring me any relief aside from meds that my OBGYN prescribed. However, every person and every pregnancy is different. By all means try some of the natural/over-the-counter remedies! Maybe one of them will work with your body and offer you some relief.
8. Take it one day at a time
I can’t stress this one enough. Keeping this mentality was one of the only ways I made it through each day. If you’re anything like me you will get extremely discouraged if you look too far down the road at the potential weeks and months of misery that lie ahead. As much as you can, make it a point to focus on simply getting through each day. That is all you can muster the strength for when you’re in the midst of severe morning sickness. Don’t let yourself look too far ahead. Your mission is to survive the current day. (And you never know – everyone is different – relief may come for you sooner than you expect!)
9. Keep your soul focused on eternity
I had to constantly remind myself of the bigger picture of my life and purpose to keep my soul grounded through the overwhelming trial of severe pregnancy nausea. If I looked simply at the state of my existence in each day of the suffering I would only become depressed and hopeless. Instead I had to remember that this life and all of its trials is so fleeting. I would not remain physically miserable forever. Even if the suffering never ended in this life, I would have an eternity of delight, in a new body, with God himself! Because I believe and hold fast to the truth that God sent Jesus to die on the cross and redeem me from the wicked sin in my heart, I can ALWAYS look forward with hope. I always have delight in His presence forever to look forward to. When I would forget that, I would become engulfed in the despair of the suffering I was sitting in.
If you don’t know Jesus, there is hope in Him! If you do, hold on to that hope as your anchor!
10. Keep reminding yourself that it WILL end
If you are sitting in the middle of a season of severe morning sickness, don’t forget that it IS just a season! It WILL end. It may get better as you move into the second trimester or it may continue through your whole pregnancy. Either way, when you hold that sweet little baby in your arms you will also be shutting the door on the difficult season of pregnancy. It will be worth it and it will not last forever.
You’ve got this mama! One day at a time. You’re not alone.