Friday, January 3, 2014

Morning-Noon-&-Night Sickness

Yep, all day long.  Every day.  Makes it super hard to eat, or prepare food for my family, or work in a grocery store full of "disgusting to me" smells.  Grrr.  I think my favorite part is when my doctors day things like, "oh, just hang in there, it usually only lasts until week 10 or 12."  Riiiiiiight.  Cue the laughing on my end.  Almost as funny as when I had a patient say (just a week or so ago), "Wow!  Weight watchers must really be working for you, you've lost a lot of weight!"  Again with the laughing... "Well, actually for past few months I've been on a different sort of 'diet' where I only keep down about 50% of what I eat - trust me, I don't recommend it!"  She also got a good laugh when I unbottoned my white coat to show her that my weight had actually just "redistributed" to a few places.

But, despite the miserable state this puts me in, I am forever grateful because for me, this means baby is healthy.  It's the happiest sickness in the world.  On the upside, at least this time around I know it will end.  With Annalyn, I remember crying and thinking "wow, I'm never going to eat/cook/feel the same again."  I assumed most of my favorite foods would turn my stomach forever.  Thankfully I was wrong, and by week 24, I was able to hold down food again.  (Notice how I didn't say by week 12?  Yea....)  So, now I'm just counting the weeks, trying to manage, and waiting for that glorious 2nd trimester I loved so much with Peanut.  Here's a few of my tricks (obviously, they aren't miracle cures) for managing the sickness:

1.  Unlike my usual recipes, when you're feeling awful, the blander the better!
     -dry cereals (try eating a handful before you get out of bed in the morning.  Not a miracle cure, but seems to help a bit)
     -granola bars
     -baked potatoes (with just a tiny bit of  yogurt butter and salt)
     -salty potato chips (I don't know why, but sometimes the salt helps; go for reduced fat to decrease the grease which does not help)
     -oyester crackers, saltines
     -breads (carbs are just easier to digest, so it tends to be what I lean to when nothing else stays down)

2.  When you're feeling ok/hungry, go for the good stuff!
     -green leafy veggies (packed with B vitamins and folic acid)
     -avocado (I've been craving salads with avocado around lunch lately.  It's packed with nutrients and seems to be easy on the tummy)
     -protein - in any version you can stomach.  Poultry always seems hard for me, and sometimes meat in general.  Try to get protein from nuts, legumes, and other sources if you can.

3.  Give the belly what it wants! (and sneak in some extras, if possible)
     -I know it's hard when you're carefully scrutinizing every little thing you put in your body, but when it comes to trying to keep down anything, give in to those cravings.  In the end, eating something and giving your body even a little energy/nutrition is better than ending up in the hospital on IV's for dehydration.
    -Try to "trick" yourself when possible - for instance, the other day I was craving spaghetti.  So with a little help from my hubby who cooked it, we had whole wheat spaghetti with hamburger, zucchini, squash, and spinach in the sauce.  It satisfied the craving, while adding a lot more nutrition than white pasta and red sauce alone.  The funny thing?  I've had a major aversion to red sauce in any version since.  Go figure.
     -Craving a milkshake?  Make it at home and add a banana to that chocolate shake.  Dairy is awesome while pregnant anyway, so don't feel bad about ice cream in moderation.

4.  Eat early and often
     -Try to eat something as soon as you wake up (even if it's a handful of dry cereal).  Getting something in your belly will help prevent the nausea (or make it less painful if you do get sick - straight stomach acid burns!)  This pregnancy, cereal bars with fruit in the middle seem to be an ok first-morning snack.
     -Eat lots of little snacks throughout  the day and avoid big meals.  Again, keeping something in your stomach helps keep the nausea away. 

5.  Sleep, sleep, and more sleep!
     -As if that's hard to do right now?!  Never underestimate the power of a good night's sleep, or an afternoon nap.  This is definitely harder with my second pregnancy, but forcing myself to sleep as much as possible helps, especially when I have to get up early the next day.

6.  Don't forget to hydrate!
     -Again, this makes a world of difference with how I'm feeling.  If I let the dehydration and hunger get ahead of me, it's near impossible to catch back up.
     -Try small sips throughout the day (straws help with this) and aim to drink as much of it as possible.  Avoid caffeine which will dehydrate you more (and isn't very safe for baby, anyway).

7.  Avoid strong or unpleasant odors
     -With the superhuman sense of smell that comes with being pregnant, this can be easier said than done.  Especially if you work in a grocery store...ugh. 
     -Remember that these awful smells aren't awful to everyone, or even you pre-pregnancy, but one whiff can sometimes push you over the top.  Do your best to avoid them for now, if possible.

8.  When all else fails, talk to your doctor!
     -There are several drugs safe to use in pregnancy for nausea and vomiting. Among these are ondansetron (Zofran), promethazine (Phenergan), and doxylamine/pyridoxine (Diclegis).  Ask as many questions as you need to be comfortable with using these.  Again, if it's a matter of taking a medication or being hospitalized with IV's to treat dehydration, what do you think's best for you and baby?
     -One of my patients who's a doctor also taught me a cool "trick" using a pressure point that exists in the web of your hand between the thumb and pointer finger.  He instructed me to press down/massage this area on my non-dominant hand for 10-15 minutes whenever I was feeling nauseous.  By hitting this pressure point, it blocks nerve transmission that causes the nauseous feeling.  Believe it or not, it really seemed to help me. (I didn't learn this trick until week 14-15 when I was starting to have some good days mixed in, so I'd be curious to try it earlier on when they're all "bad" days.)

This post has been several weeks/months in the making.  I've tried to add to it as I go so I don't forget.  Plus, I try to avoid thinking/writing about it as much as possible - distraction is your friend when you're nauseous!  Luckily, by the time I'm actually posting it, I can report that I'm starting to feel better.  Not to jinx it, but I haven't thrown up in over 2.5 weeks!  Much earlier that I reached that milestone with Annalyn.  So if you're still in that lovely first trimester, hang in there, friends!  Just remember, it doesn't last forever, you will get through it, and it's absolutely worth it.  Don't stress too much about losing weight that first trimester (I tend to drop on average about 10 lbs., but had no trouble gaining it back with my last pregnancy!).  Hopefully you have lots of understanding friends/family/coworkers in the meantime that will help you get through it.  Sending lots of love, happy thoughts, and hopefully helpful hints!


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