Pregnancy Sickness Survival Tips - Part 2

In part 1 of this series, we covered the perks of pregnancy sickness, doctor’s visits, medication, sleep, your schedule and the pregnancy sickness mindset

In this second part, guest blogger and fellow Occupational Therapist Sarah Lyon, OTR/L covers some nitty-gritty survival strategies for pregnancy sickness. 

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Pregnancy Vomiting: Where To Throw Up

Pregnancy sickness tips.

The outdoors is the absolute best place to throw-up. A regular spot for me was behind a tree at work. There will be times when you have to be that pregnant-woman-in-the-public-toilet-stall stereotype, but whenever possible step outside. 

One caveat to this is that vomiting must be done on grass or dirt. The splashing caused by cement can be detrimental to your shoes, pants, and the rest of your day. 

If outside isn't an option, think beyond the toilet. In the mornings, when I know only bile is going to come up, I strongly preferred the bathtub. The tub is less smelly and more dignified. When I was very pregnant, I preferred our walk in shower because I was able to get down on all fours and did not have to bend over and put pressure on my belly. 

When You Can't Keep Your Prenatal Vitamin Down

Keeping prenatal vitamins down.

I struggled with guilt throughout my pregnancy; I wanted my pregnancy to be the healthiest time of my life, but it was far from that. Not being able to keep down a prenatal vitamin was the icing on the cake. The trial and error process of trying to find a vitamin that I might be able to keep down was especially exhausting. 

I was not able to keep down a prenatal until my 3rd trimester (during my first pregnancy) and still delivered a healthy baby boy. Be assured that your body will be working as hard as possible to take any nutrients from your system and prioritize their use for the baby. 

Try to incorporate vitamins into what you know you can keep down. Natural food sources are best, but be gentle with yourself. If necessary, get your vitamins from any source that works for you.  I drank Vitamin Water and found protein bars loaded with nutrients.

Folic acid can be particularly hard to get in foods. You can buy this separately and have this be your one vitamin that you take. 

This pregnancy, I am table to keep down a half dose of Vitafusion Prenatal, Gummy Vitamins {affiliate}. These vitamins do not have Iron, which is a huge trigger for nausea. I take them before bed right after I take my half dose of Unisom {affiliate}. Learn more about deciding if medication is right for you.

I have read that Flintstone vitamins {affiliate} work for some women, but I read on the label that they have Iron- so I haven’t even tried. 

Respect Your Pregnancy Sickness Triggers

You will quickly learn your triggers. These triggers may seem silly. You may have difficulty explaining them to other people.

Here are some of my top vomiting triggers: 

Opening the refrigerator
Walking past the refrigerator
Thinking about the refrigerator
Grocery shopping
Smelling meat that is cooking
Seeing raw meat
Smelling garlic on my husband’s breath
Watching my son spin
Watching my son eat yogurt
Driving to work
Driving home from work

You need to respect your triggers. Some are easily avoided - for example, closing your eyes if someone around you is spinning. Others you will simply need to prep for every day.  I always have a mint in my mouth when I get in the car to go to work. And then there are those triggers that will require you to take actions that feel ridiculous -- like leaving the house or sitting in a closet when meat is being cooked. 

One of the best strategies in avoiding triggers is to ask for help. If someone offers to pick up some groceries for you—say yes! I’ve asked my husband to feed our son breakfast (when yogurt tends to be consumed in an unbearable fashion.) This all feels and sounds ridiculous, but if you can avoid vomiting, ridiculous actions are well worth it. 

Avoiding Certain Foods To Avoid Pregnancy Nausea

Spicy, acidic, rich and hot foods- Don’t. Just Don’t.

These foods are so tempting, but can be huge triggers.  I was most tempted by spicy foods during my pregnancy—this never ended well. I was most deceived by acidic foods -- a bowl of tomato soup or a bowl of homemade applesauce can seem so comforting, but acidic food is not what your delicate stomach needs.. Instead, think of what you want to eat after the stomach flu. Bland, bland, bland—proteins, carbs, and sugar for electrolyte replacement

One difference from the stomach flu is that my system could not handle any hot liquids—such as the stereotypical chicken noodle soup. My theory is that this makes your stomach work too hard. I am a hot tea and soup lover.  But for some reason during pregnancy, I wanted every drink to be on ice and a bowl of soup sounded overwhelming. 

Please Note: I literally lost my breakfast writing this section. Even thinking about these foods is the worst. 

Keep to a Rigid Eating Schedule

I’ve been very strict with my eating schedule and protein consumption during my second pregnancy and it has made my days more manageable. God bless the women who can munch on fruit between meals and keep their nausea under control. I have to have protein with every meal and every snack.

Here is my current schedule:

2:00 am – set an alarm to eat a protein bar and drink some water
8:00 am – after my morning throw-up, I munch on Cheerios
8:15 am – eat toast with peanut butter, raisins, and honey; once I have something successfully in my stomach, I try to sip on iced Vitamin Water
10:30 am – drink ½ a protein shake
Sip on iced tea. 
Noon – I try to eat the same lunch, typically a sandwich that I know I can keep down
Sip on more iced tea
3:00 – A serious snack. I’m talking something like an empanada

My pregnancy sickness diet.

OK. From here on out my day usually descends into nothing sounding good.  When this happens, move onto to my next round of advice.

Eat Whatever You Can, Whenever You Can

The best advice I received from my doctor was to eat whatever I could keep down. While it is important to try to keep protein in your stomach and to avoid the aforementioned unforgivable foods, there is a certain degree to which you simply need to listen to what your body is craving. 

If your body is like mine, it will send you strong signals. Especially in the evening, my mind will fixate on food that sounds good. My incredible husband will often make this possible. 

For example, milkshakes were a big craving of mine for a while. This is a food I would never run out and get when not pregnant, but probably because of the high calorie, some degree of calcium, cold, and base qualities—I would crave it. I have gone through many similar cravings and typically, even when the food sounds crazy, if I listen to my body, I have a better chance of keeping the food down.

My stomach is most settled when I am sleeping, and I will often wake up craving water or a snack. Your body is asking for nutrients it did not get during the day. So in addition to my regular protein bar, I will sometimes get up and eat another snack. This is particularly common when I have thrown up during the day. Last night I woke up craving a glass of chocolate milk. 

Please note: As I read the food advice I have written above, I’m not particularly fond of it. In my non-pregnancy state, I am a pretty healthy person who would not recommend a nightly milkshake. But, I want to reiterate that this is a pregnancy survival guide.  If you are able to make healthier choices and keep them down—do so! But for the rest of us, try to get the nutrients that you absolutely need—and then just work on surviving. 

The Aftermath of Pregnancy Sickness

When it was finally time for the baby to arrive I threw up one more time right before my delivery. This is a common part of transitioning but it felt symbolic.  My healthy little guy was born, and the cloud of nausea lifted within hours. 

Many women feel a narrowing of their lives during the newborn stage, but for me it was an expanding. I could cook again! Drive again! Have people over! Having a baby is a joyous time in and of itself, but for me the newborn stage was even sweeter having gone through months and months of sickness to prepare for the new arrival.

Pregnancy sickness help and

There was still a lot of work to do to regain my health fully. I wish that I had been more consistent in taking vitamins, since in retrospect my body was probably sorely depleted. I wish I had gotten more guidance in returning to exercising since I was so weak when I started exercising again regularly.

Luckily, after many, many months of work, I returned to my previous level of strength and wellness. And as cheesy as it sounds, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. 

Sarah Lyon, OTR/L, serves as the Occupational Therapy expert for where she shares her OT expertise to promote optimal health and to inform those who might be in need of OT services. She also blogs and shares valuable resources with fellow therapists on her site, Potential.

Sarah Lyon -  surviving pregnancy sickness.

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