Give a warm welcome to Rachel of Efficient Mama who’s sharing about supporting women with severe morning sickness or hyperemisis gravidarum. Since I’ve had HG for two out of three pregnancies, I say YES to all of Rachel’s advice! – Haley
I’ve gone through two pregnancies now that had pretty severe morning sickness, the first being the worst. When I tell you it was severe, I’m talking puking 15 times a day for five months and all day/night nausea. My second pregnancy only resulted in throwing up in the mornings, but I still had all day nausea.
The reality is that Mom being out of commission for 12+ weeks can really put a lot of strain on the family. Dad has to pick up the slack and he’s usually already working a full-time job.
If you are one of the lucky few who knows about the pregnancy early on or if she’s experiencing extended morning sickness, here are a few ways to help her out.
1. Bring the Family Food
You can ask her if something sounds good and by all means if she mentions something, bring that for dinner. But chances are, if you mention the word “food” she might just go running for the toilet.
Everyone else in the family needs to eat though, so if nothing else bring the kids and Dad something for dinner. It’ll ease her mind knowing that at least her family is being taken care of while she’s feeling yucky.
2. Invite Her Over and Don’t Clean
When Mom’s suffering from morning sickness, the house totally falls apart. Even if a woman isn’t suffering from extreme morning sickness, the pure exhaustion of growing a baby those first few months (and last) make is hard to do much other than survive.
Invite her over and don’t clean before she gets there. Let her know that her house isn’t the only one that gets messy. I remember a friend on mine inviting me over and not cleaning and it made me feel SO much better. It was one of the best gifts she could have given me.
3. Understand When She Says “No”
If you’ve never suffered from severe morning sickness yourself, it can get frustrating to constantly have a friend tell you they don’t want to go anywhere or do anything.
Just know that she still wants to do those things, but she’s just too tired or sick right now. Her energy levels are probably super low since she’s struggling to keep food down and the nausea isn’t so fun either.
Try not to get upset with her if she can’t spend a lot of time with you right now. It’s just a season and it will pass.
4. Offer to Watch the Kids
A nap can sometimes make the world look a little brighter to a Mom who can’t even leave the bathroom floor. If you have the chance, offer to watch the kids for the afternoon so she can rest, or at least puke without a toddler trying to splash in the toilet.
5. Offer to Grab Something at the Store
Grocery store runs are the bane of a severe morning sickness sufferer. If they can even get into the store without throwing up, the thought of smelling all those different foods can make her want to throw up just thinking about it.
Offer to grab a couple things for her while you’re out. It’ll make her day and her husband’s since he’s probably been doing all the grocery store runs lately.
6. Don’t Suggest Ginger
I know you are just trying to help, really I do. But unless you’ve gone through severe morning sickness yourself, don’t suggest ginger or any other typical morning sickness relief advice.
I can almost guarantee you that she’s tried all of those and many more. Ginger, saltines and eating more protein just don’t cut it for this type of thing.
7. Get Her a Newborn Outfit
Next time you’re browsing through Target and you see a super cute outfit, buy it for her. Even if she already has other kids and lots of clothes, it’s a little glimpse of the end and a reminder of just how worth every minute of all this suffering will be for her.
8. Tell Her She’s a Great Mom
It really stinks when you’re feeling so sick for such a long time, especially when you can’t do the things you want with your kids. Make sure to tell her she’s doing a great job. I promise you that she needs to hear it right now.
Have you suffered from severe morning sickness? Do you have anything you would add to the list?
Rachel is a semi-crunchy, Catholic Momma of two and the author of “Minimize the Mess: A Mother’s Guide to Simplifying Your Home“. She strives to live simply and intentionally while attempting to feed her family a whole foods diet on a budget. You can read more over at her blog, Efficient Momma.
I get bad morning sickness. And it lasts well into the 20-something weeks (which annoyingly boggles people’s minds).
Yes to all of them but for me, especially #6!!! Yes!!!! It’s the equivalent of a woman being 42 weeks along and you suggesting she try walking (I know because that was me too)
She’s already tried it. I promise. Move along captain obvious.
Rachel @ Efficient Momma says
haha! Yes! I tend to go over my “due date” too and that advice is just as welcome/helpful. Already tried it.
I’ve had HG for all 6 pregnancies while homeschooling (from my bed)! This list is fantastic! I especially love #6. I know people mean well, but I never know what to say when they suggest saltines, ginger, and even essential oils. So thanks for including that one!
DON’T tell her “it’s mind over matter! or “have you tried not throwing up/not thinking about how sick you feel/swallowing hard?” So unhelpful.
Also supremely unhelpful were the people who suggested I was a bad mother because I had to be medicated due to HG. Don’t do that, either.
If one more person suggested ginger, I was going to eat ginger and throw it up on them on command.
Rachel @ Efficient Momma says
Oh my goodness! Did someone actually say that to you? That’s horrible! I know I already felt like a horrible mother without anyone telling me that, just because I couldn’t DO anything.
All the time. My own father said it to me! My mom was horrified
Sarah @ Two Os Plus More says
I’ve had people tell me during all 3 of my sicknesses that it might just be in my head and “mind over matter.” My “morning” ahem all-day sickness lasted well into 20 weeks and beyond on pregnancies 2 and 3.
The Ginger one is so true! Also, if people would not judge by the week because every woman and every pregnancy are different. I’ve had people ask me what week I’m at and then either say “Well, you’re almost done with this phase!” at 13 weeks OR “You shouldn’t still be sick, doesn’t that end at 15 weeks? I guess it’ll be over any day then!” when I’m at 16+ weeks.
#3, too! I’m pretty much awol for most of my pregnancy because I just don’t have the energy or the time to leave a toilet/bucket. Great list!
My mom told my husband that she didn’t know why I didn’t “just throw up and get it over with.”
Because I did that and it didn’t help? Because I threw up eight more times after that? Because HG is not your run-of-the-mill morning sickness?
It almost caused a huge problem with my husband, actually, because he started to not believe me about how bad it was. Thankfully he came around pretty quickly.
Oh my how timely this is. I’m in the throes of morning sickness with our third, and like my last two pregnancies, it’s not taking it easy on me. This was such a good list.
I would definitely add “If she doesn’t have a dishwasher, offer to do a load for her”…as I’m a mom who doesn’t have one, and murky dishwater is one of the things that send me running to the bathroom. ;( And the morning sickness has begun while my husband begins his two weeks of nights. I’ve been able to manage a halfish load everyday, but unless he washes some at 7am when he gets from from 12hrs of overnight work, it will be awhile before I can get through them all. The dishes sit there right now in all their ick, Jedi-mind-tricking me into gagging even a room away… 🙂
We have just now starting using disposables, so that will help me get a grip and catch up!
Rachel @ Efficient Momma says
Great addition, Love the disposable idea! Dish water always gets me when I’m pregnant too.
Hope you feel better soon! I’m praying for you – it’s so hard when you’re kind of on your own and feeling like that.
I was fortunate not to have *too* terrible morning sickness with babe #1, but these are still great suggestions. I would add a caveat to suggestion #2, though–don’t clean, except for anything actually gross. Like, maybe give the bathroom a swish, and if you have pets, deal with as much pet odour as possible (ditto any other strong odours). Because reassuring as it is to see other people’s messy homes, it’s really embarrassing if their homes actually trigger you to vomit… and it goes without saying, I think, that it doesn’t always take much.
Make her laugh–hard! If you’re not a storyteller, read a laugh-out-loud funny book to each other or watch Dimitri Martin on YouTube. It triggers endorphins, which make you feel good, but there’s also something about getting your middle good and clenched for a FUN reason for a change–all those muscles get warm and relaxed; it really does bring some relief, at least temporarily. It did for me (sick 24/7 for 7 months with each of my 3–whew!)
Hang in there, mommies! <3
Chrysten Copley says
Rachel! I feel your pain! HG is the worst, worst. On multiple occasions I have said I would rather go through labor 5 times than go through a month of severe morning sickness. People who haven’t been there don’t get it, and your points are so helpful!
If you didn’t know, it was HG Awareness Day on May 15th. http://www.helpher.org .
Such an important issue that receives so little attention. It may not end a mother’s life, but it often has lasting health and developmental consequences for the children, and hinders the ability/willingness of mothers to have more children. Thanks for the post! And keep drinking that ginger ale – JK!!!!
Love the suggestion about bringing a baby outfit. We had been trying for a while when I became pregnant with my first, and it was discouraging to be so NOT excited about the pregnancy we had been wishing for because I was so sick. My family all lived out of state but one day, a package with a few adorable outfits came in the mail from my mom. I remember looking at them in wonder, kind of like, “oh yeah, THIS is why I’m doing this.” I hung them on a shelf in my living room to remind me that I WAS excited about the baby coming, and that it was only a temporary misery.
Oh my! I love this. I get some terrible morning sickness. I try to do all of these things for people, but this list gave me some inspiration.
Amy Z says
I’m going to be that person, and this kind of falls under #6, but instead of “have you tried…”, I’m gonna phrase it as “this worked for me”. I’m also a dietitian nutritionist and if this helps one person then it was worth it. This pregnancy (second), I discovered B6 deficiency.
I was on my in-laws couch at Christmas (oh the smells), immovable, ready to “die”, and made a desperate Google search. A vitamin B6 deficiency was suggested as one of the common causes of pregnancy nausea/vomiting. So I got some Vitamin water (because liquids absorb faster), felt good enough to take my multivitamin that I had been resisting, and within a few hours was playing soccer with my nephew. I couldn’t believe what a difference it made. I also discovered that all my usual nausea/can’t handle real food foods (saltines, etc) actually made my problem worse because they utilize B6 when processed, further depleting my B6. After that, I stayed consistent with my vitamin, and when I needed it, drank about 1/2 cup Vitamin water and didn’t look back.
This didn’t fix all of the throwing up, because no matter what, helping my two-yr-old use the “little potty” sent me to make donations to the “big potty”. There were several times when I knew my husband was at the front of our neighborhood coming home and I left my son on the potty for a few more mins so Daddy could deal with the bathroom smells.
If you’ve already tried B6, then roll your eyes at me. 🙂
B6 worked for me… For three days. But I still thanked God for those three days of almost-normalcy, especially since they were three days of a long weekend at the beach!
My best friend currently has HG and I am trying to just be there for her in any way possible.
Can you ladies who have suffered with HG tell me what helped you the most and what a friend in a particular can do to ease the stress of it all?
Great list! I had HG with my first 3 pregnancies and I seem to have been mostly spared with my 4th it seems. Weeks 7-13 were rough, but I’m now 15 weeks along and I would stay I definitely fall more into the “normal” range of pregnancy sickness than the extreme range.
One thing I would add to the list is: Don’t tell me to exercise. That kinda falls under number 6 I guess, but I think it is separate from food stuff. If I go for a run to help my pregnancy sickness as has been suggested by some well meaning people, I better be running toward a hospital. It’s great that they can continue running marathons throughout their pregnancies, but I can barely walk from the couch to the kitchen without passing out.
All in all, I know people are trying to help and commiserate but it usually only makes me feel worse!
Rachel @ Efficient Momma says
So true, I can’t do much of anything in regards to even walking during those first few months haha
So glad your fourth is going better, that’s so encouraging!
So so true. Living it right now. The number one thing I wish was that I had someone nearby to come over and distract me during the day, feed my kids so I don’t have to look inside the fridge or pantry, bring me a meal from whatever strikes my fancy, and do all my dishes and general cleaning. Is that too much to ask?? Lol. I can only bribe my four year old to clean up for so long and then he is done.
#6!!! I just don’t know what to say to you. Umm, no, never heard of ginger or protein. I mean, really???
Rachel @ Efficient Momma says
When I had HG, another HG-experienced mother sent me some movies. She survived on movie watching during the first 20 weeks or so, since she couldn’t leave the couch. Movies actually made me feel sick (the motion?) so I read thousands of pages of books while I stayed in bed, but the care and concern her gesture communicated was so appreciated!
Also, any kind of mail was a great way to brighten difficult days.
I also had HG in 2 of 3 pregnancies. I would like to add-please pick up my kids and take them to a park or somewhere for active play. I am down on the couch with severe nausea/dizziness/vomiting for months and my kids inevitably live via iPad and Netflix during these times. I feel so bad they don’t get outside to play and would really appreciate a mom doing that for me! And yes-please bring food for hubby and kids and for the LOVE-do not tell me to try ginger or saltines.
Mary Wilkerson says
Not to be a hater (do people still say hater?) but when I saw the title I thought to myself that I’d be reading another blog/article about stuff that isn’t really helpful for people REALLY in the thick of morning sickness. Gosh, was I wrong. I love all these suggestions so much, but especially the ‘don’t suggest ginger’ and the newborn outfit. I have had pretty extreme (never hospitalization and never IVs) morning sickness (all day, every day for nine months) with each of my kids. The worst was this current pregnancy when my doctor discovered I had no traceable iron in my blood. Anyway, the suggestions can sometime be the hardest to grin and bare because, at kid four, I have tried pretty much everything. The newborn outfits is a great suggestion because I always have to remember everything is worth the pro-creating of these kids, even though dazang, sometimes it doesn’t feel like it!
Oh my gosh, this is my first pregnancy and I have been so sick that I have not even had a chance to be excited. We tried for seven years to get pregnant so my non enthusiasm has people confused and irritated while I feel sick and guilty. This list could not be more true. I would add if she says she is feeling better today it does not mean that she does not feel sick it just means she is not having thoughts of dying in a toilet, so no it is not all better now and no she is not ready to get back to life as normal. Also if you suffered from severe morning sickness then make an effort to just check on her and tell her what she is going through is really horrible but she is strong and can do this, and maybe just let her cry and be a baby without criticism. My mom who also suffered during all of her pregnancies has been my advocate when others start their criticizing. She always reminds me that I can do it.
Mary Bacher says
What a good post! I appreciated everything you wrote. I’m currently struggling with severe morning sickness. Most days I flip between laying in bed and hiding out in the bathroom. I’ve been working much shorter days and taking it slowly. I’m in my second trimester now so I’m hoping it will get better soon!
My sister is suffering from this right now. She has barely been able to eat or drink anything in a couple weeks. Now, she is afraid to eat. Aside from B6, do you have any other suggestions for what she should try to eat. In the last 2.5 weeks she’s gone from 106 lbs to 95.
Rashonda, she needs to call her doctor immediately. There are prescription drugs her doctor can prescribe her so she can keep food and water down. A prescription was all that could help with my third pregnancy. I couldn’t even stay hydrated! Please have her call her doctor ASAP and insist to be seen immediately. That kind of weight loss during a pregnancy is very concerning.