I was diagnosed with “hyperemesis gravidarum” at my 7 week appointment with our OB specialist. Hypermemesis gravidarum, or HG, is a pregnancy complication that involves severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, dehydration, and fainting. I had been throwing up 10 or more times a day since I was 5 weeks pregnant and couldn’t seem to get ahead of it. I was constantly nauseous to the point where I was unable to work for more than a few hours. She mentioned that this could last my entire pregnancy and I broke down. I was already exhausted and it had only been 2 weeks of feeling like this, and I had already been hospitalized for dehydration. Luckily now that I am out of the first trimester, things have calmed down as long as I stick to my regime of nausea medications. HG is far from the normal “morning sickness,” and I quickly learned a few tips and tricks in order to survive.
1. A job environment that is understanding and gracious. Seriously, I would not have been able to continue working if I didn’t have such a wonderful job that allowed me to take breaks as I needed them. At Guiding Star Siouxland, we have a room called the Resting Room, which any client can use as a safe place to take a break. I spent my lunch breaks laying down, and other days I would bring my laptop and work from there.
2. I banned all SMELL from our house. We couldn’t do any cooking or cleaning because the strong smells would make me sick. Even the slightest scent of cologne or deodorant would throw me. We took the trashes out constantly to avoid any lingering smells. And my poor dog had to endure many more baths than he would have liked.
3. Eat foods that are bland. Toast, plain noodles, rice, crackers, broth…Not only did the scent of seasoned food make me sick, but it’s easier coming back up, trust me.
4. Carry around snacks. Everywhere – car, purse, pockets. If I could keep just a little bit of applesauce, crackers, or protein bar down, the nausea wasn’t as bad.
5. Gum. I chewed way too much gum to get the awful constant taste of bile out of my mouth.
6. Liquid. I tried to always have a liquid with me. For awhile I was unable to drink water because it didn’t have enough flavor to cover the bile taste. My doctor said that anything I could get down was better than nothing! I drank a lot of ginger ale and surprisingly enough, rootbeer. The only type of water I could get down needed to be ice cold, so I often ate ice cubes throughout the day. The hope was that if I could get small sips of water down every few minutes, I could hopefully avoid dehydration.
7. I kept toothpaste and a toothbrush with me in my purse. I read once in a pregnancy book that you are not supposed to brush your teeth right after throwing up, but I mean, come on. That seems ridiculous when that nasty taste is in your mouth. So I say, brush away. I’m sure my coworkers were appreciative of that fact.
8. Drink lots of homemade shakes! I wouldn’t advocate for buying any nasty protein powder with chemicals or buying store bought protein shakes that are full of sugar, so I would make my own protein shakes in the mornings to sip throughout the day. This was basically my only source of nutrition. I tried to mix in dark leafy greens and some fruit, but sometimes it ended up being basically a clean protein blend and milk. And, again, shakes are a lot nicer than a full meal when they come back up.
9. Peppermint oil. I don’t use essential oils as much as I probably should, but I used lots of peppermint oil! I diffused it around my house, and I would take the vial and just breathe in the smell when I was feeling sick. It wasn’t a miracle cure by any means, but it did do the trick to calm down the nausea and get the yuck smell out of my nose.
10. Barf bags. Everywhere. Car. Work. Each room of the house. By the bed. Purse. I can honestly say that I’ve gotten really good at puke-driving, although I’m not proud of it. Every time we went to the hospital, we would empty their drawers and take them all home. The hospital staff didn’t seem to mind.
Pregnancy with HG is so different than what I had planned. All of the fancy ideas of doing a preanatal workout routine or sticking to a strict meal plan of the best pregnancy foods went out the window. I was basically in survival mode, trying to get through an eight hour workday, and then sleeping for the rest of my day. But even through this hard struggle, I am so thankful and grateful to be healthy and have a healthy child.
How to Support your Loved One who has HG
In my last blog post, I discussed how I was diagnosed with “hyperemesis gravidarum” at my 7 week appointment with our OB specialist. Hypermemesis gravidarum, or HG, is a pregnancy complication that involves severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, dehydration, and fainting. Having HG impacts so many different aspects of your