When morning sickness hits

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 Photo: Yuri_Arcurs

During my first pregnancy five years ago, I was very lucky to not experience morning sickness. 

Sure, there was the odd day or two where I felt a bit queasy and not quite 100 per cent. But it was a feeling that was easily dulled by a piece of toast, a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit or two.

Naturally, I assumed things would be the same the second time round. But oh, how I was wrong.

For the first three months of my second pregnancy I felt like I was on a stomach churning rollercoaster ride from the minute I woke up. 

I felt sick from morning through to night, and can only compare it to a hangover ... only without the fun part first.

I'd crave certain foods and spend time making them or seeking them out. Yet, when it came to eating them, my stomach would somersault and I could only ever manage a few mouthfuls.

While I was never physically sick, there were plenty of times when I felt I might be. And it felt like the longest three months in the world.

Fortunately for me, that's all it was. 

The minute I hit week 13, my sickness passed. I started to feel human again and could finally eat more than a few mouthfuls in a row. In fact, that's when I truly embraced eating for two!

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But I know that for many others the morning sickness ride was a lot more harrowing.

I asked friends about their experiences, and the responses came in thick and fast.

Lana vomited when she was shopping in David Jones, which was awful enough, but the worst was yet to come.

"I vomited every single day of my pregnancy, but the most traumatic was vomiting in my snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef," she says.

For Lisa, travelling was enough to start her stomach churning.

"Once the bus was stuck in bad traffic and I had to throw up in my handbag, which was not my finest moment," she recalls. "My phone and wallet didn't really recover either."

And it was much the same for Rashida whenever she was a passenger in the car.

"I used to start vomiting as soon as I sat down. It was so bad we started keeping plastic bags in the car for me to throw up into," she says.

"From 8-14 weeks I couldn't even drink water. Plus, because only my two managers knew about it, I had to go to the third floor of our building to throw up in the toilets because I couldn't risk doing it in the toilets on our floor."

Work also proved to be a challenge for Amanda, a hairdresser.

"I was partway through doing a full head of foils, and I had to run out the back of the salon and down four flights of stairs," she says. "I didn't think I was going to make it, so I was heaving over the side of the bannister."

Vicky has similar work memories.

"I remember a couple of times being on a sales call and having to mute the call as the other person talked so I could retch into the waste paper bin," she says.

"I also had a regular customer come in to view some art work and I had to prop it against my desk, crouch down next to it, and pretend to show them some really interesting details as I swallowed down the nausea!"

So many women are somewhat held to ransom when the morning sickness hits.

But is there anything that may at least help a little? Karen Faulkner, a midwife, offered the following advice:

  • ginger is a great natural anti-nausea remedy. Take it either as ginger tea or crystallised ginger, and keep it on your bedside table to eat a piece on waking
  • acupressure bands can be helpful and can be bought from pharmacies and health food outlets
  • small regular meals help alleviate nausea
  • avoid greasy heavy meals
  • keep a packet of biscuits in your handbag to help stave off the nausea on the go.

Keep in mind that excessive nausea and vomiting needs a medical assessment - medication can help.