How to Survive Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Dear beautiful, pregnant woman,
You probably stumbled across this article because you have it: constant nausea, throwing up, feeling miserable. All day, every day. That what the doctors call Hyperemesis Gravidarum or the worst type of morning (all day) sickness. I got it when I was in week seven of my pregnancy and still have it (it's week 32 for me now). In this article I'll tell you what worked, works and didn't work for me and how you can make your days a little better, even with HG.
It all started on a Monday morning
I was seven weeks pregnant and I had already experienced a bit of nausea, but only when my stomach was empty, so that was pretty easy to avoid. However, that Monday morning was different. I was very nauseous when I woke up and it didn't go away. It stayed with me throughout the day and it only got worse and worse. The throwing up part started soon after that, I couldn't really eat anything and I got weaker and weaker.
The following Monday I decided to go to my doctor because I had no idea how I would be able to handle this until week 12 or 16 (I was still optimistic and thought this would be something that would go away at some point). He was very kind, checked my blood pressure (way too low thanks to my not eating) and urine, and concluded right away that I was dehydrated and sent me to the hospital. I was too weak to be shocked or scared. They checked me and the baby at the hospital and I got an IV with fluids, and that actually made me feel better already. It was so good to get nutrition without having to swallow anything. That evening we went home, feeling relieved because the baby was doing well, with a prescription for medication.
I had two options: the first was the light one, which was a pill for motion sickness. That didn't work. The second option was the one I was scared of, as this was "real" medication and I was worried it would harm the baby. Fortunately, I just read a book called Bumpology and learned that it would be so much better for the baby if the mother could actually get some nutrition with the medication, compared to not taking anything. The medication helped, but it only slightly. I still threw up, I was still nauseous and I still felt miserable. That's when I realized that this was probably something that was there to stay and I just had to deal with, or at least try to accept.
What follows is a list of the things that made my life with Hyperemesis a bit easier. I hope it helps you, too.
My tips for Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Ginger is the magical anti-nausea root that did make things better for me. I loved ginger tea (fresh ginger root, chopped up, added to hot water), ginger candy and ginger cookies. It has soft yet strong flavor and calms the stomach, and it worked especially well for me after throwing up.
The freshness of peppermint helped me in a couple of ways. First of all, drinking peppermint tea or cold water with peppermint leaves gave me the feeling it burned the nausea away and that felt great. I also chewed on peppermint candy, especially in the first and second trimester (it usually gives me heartburn now, so I try to avoid it). In my second trimester, I also used diluted peppermint essential oil under my nose when I couldn't handle certain smells.
- Not working
I quickly learned that working was impossible. I tried to work from home, especially in the beginning, but I couldn't focus on my computer screen and my runs to the bathroom made it impossible to actually get things done. When my doctor put me on 100% sick leave, I was actually relieved. I did feel guilty, but I realized that I had no space for guilt, as I had to focus on myself and my baby. I had to let go and accept that this was my situation.
Was I ever not nauseous? No, especially not in the first half of my pregnancy. But I did find relieve in sleeping. Getting to sleep was kind of hard because lying down made my nausea worse, but once I was asleep, it was bliss. I went to bed at nine and woke up at eight, and usually took an afternoon nap, and those hours were definitely the best parts of my day.
Before getting pregnant, I wasn't the best crier, but wow, that has changed. A lot. I cried almost every day, I still do, and a couple of times a day during the first trimester, preferably on the bathroom floor. I always feel relieved afterwards.
- Reaching out for help
This was so hard in the beginning because I felt so damn vulnerable. I was sick and threw up, and didn't want other people to see me like this. But I was lonely and I needed support, too. That's why, after a while, I would stop locking the door of the bathroom when I had to throw up, so my husband could come in and hold my hair. I also invited friends to come over, so they could talk to me for an hour or so, and I would actually feel like I had experienced something positive. My dearest friends were always happy to come over and they were (and still are) also very understanding when I had to cancel something because I was feeling horrible.
- Cold, sparkling water
Oh, the joy of cold, ice cold, sparkling water. I could drink liters of the stuff and it made me feel like I burned the nausea away. It's still one of my favorite things this pregnancy.
Although the medication didn't do much in the beginning, it did make things a lot better in the second trimester. From week twenty or so, I felt fine, most of the days. I thought the HG had passed, so I tried to get off the medication a couple of times, but that never ended well. I learned quickly that I needed only one pill in the morning (I took three a day in the first trimester) to get me through the day pretty okay, so I happily continued.
What didn't work for me
When the Hyperemesis started, I was lost, so I tried everything I could find on the magical internet. Unfortunately, some of the most popular tricks didn't work for me. However, they might work wonders for you, so I highly encourage you to try everything. If there's something that comes up in your thoughts and you have a feeling it might work, try it. That could be your body telling you: "this is what I need".
These are the things that a lot of women swear by, but didn't work for me:
- Preggie Pops
I actually think these little fruit candies are simply smart marketing because there's nothing special about them. It's just sugar and fruit flavor (from essential oils), so I could have tried any type of fruit candy. Also, they didn't work for me. They were simply too sour for me and only made me throw up more.
- Citrus fruits and juices
A lot of women said their nausea got better when they started drinking juices from citrus fruits, such as orange and lemon juices. It didn't work for me. It was just too bitter and it made my stomach really upset.
- Sea bands
These little bracelets work by putting pressure on an acupressure point on the wrist. By doing that, they help people with motion sickness and morning sickness. They didn't work for me. At first, I thought I had the position wrong, but I tried and tried, and they never worked.
Where I am now
I'm currently in the 32nd week of my pregnancy and it's still hard. I had a couple of really good weeks between week twenty and 28, but the nausea came back in my third trimester. Some days are fine, others are rough, so I try to take it one day at a time. Some days I enjoy summer like everybody else, other days I hide in bed and watch Netflix. I know that, not so far from now, I'll have a baby and my nausea will go away. This will happen to you, too. <3