Surviving Morning Sickness (and trying to eat well at the same time)

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My well abused feet from a busy day are propped up and I have a bowl of lovely strawberries in front of me. Elena and I spent the second half of the day over at Sono’s. Elena played with her cousins and I helped around the house. (Sono has made a large leap forward since a week and a half ago, but still has a long way to go). We are enjoying everyday we have with her and are so thankful for your thoughts and prayers. In the quietness of the evening, with our new little baby in womb merrily kicking around, my thoughts have turned to some of your questions about eating well while suffering from morning sickness.

I wish I had an easy answer for you!

I have named this post “surviving morning sickness” for good reason. Sometimes you are just trying to survive. For those who have mild morning sickness, they wonder what we real sicko’s are complaining about. But there are some of you who know how debilitating and….well just plain terrible it can be. For me, at my worst point I was in bed almost 24/7, hungry all the time, but so sick it was hard to eat anything. Every waking moment was a form of torture and for the first time in a pregnancy I also dealt with insomnia. Nausea and insomnia is not a fun combination. I think I spent about a total of 3/4 of the last four months in bed. And for a lot of that time cooking was almost completely out of the question. Every once in a while I did the dishes (though even that usually made me throw up!).

So, did I eat super well during this time? I’ll give you one guess! *Smile*

However, I have the philosophy in life (and in cooking), that I will always try to do my best, even when my “best” is no where near the ideal. So I tried to always make the best choices I could. Morning sickness hit me early this time, within days of finding out I was pregnant, actually. For those first two weeks I was still cooking, just more tired, a bit yucky feeling, and starting to get aversions to some food. One day I made a big pot of Mexican Soup and it tasted great, two days later I turned the corner and thought it sounded absolutely disgusting. From then on it got pretty tricky finding out what I could eat. At first I was addicted to eggs. But they had to be fried on buttered toast. Scrambled eggs were absolutely a no-no. I tried once and it just didn’t work. One day I had fried eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Grapefruit was soothing and so was OJ, water was not. I ended up drinking a lot of lemon water (really, really strong lemon water) during the first trimester as it was the only way I could keep liquids down. My husband started making some easy dinners, like pasta. Sometimes I could get that down too.

But every week found me more and more sick. Soon I couldn’t eat anything whole wheat, but I could eat this really good white sourdough bread. I couldn’t eat eggs anymore (what’s the use if you are just going to throw them up?). I found that cheese sandwiches could be kept down. So I had a cheese sandwich almost everyday. We got a nice organic raw cheese and I enjoyed them as much as I could while feeling like I had the worst flu of my life. I then found that while I couldn’t get my raw milk down by itself, I could handle it with lightly sweetened cereal. While we don’t normally eat any type of cold cereal, it was worth it just to be able to eat something. Then I started going in phases. I loved pickles so we bought Bubbies lacto-fermented pickles and I ate pickle after pickle. Then I loved refried beans, which my husband picked up at a nearby restaurant for me. Then I wanted a rice noodle dish at a Thai restaurant….for two whole days and then I moved on.

You can well imagine that my husband is a very patient and understanding man to put up with running around to buy me food when my likes and dislikes were constantly changing.

But as each week was bringing me sicker and sicker I started to despair at week ten. On Easter day I was so sick and weak I could hardly even sit up for an extended amount of time. I found myself in tears. My dad started making a pregnancy tea for me by Yogi Tea called Woman’s Mother to Be. I had had it laying around for a few weeks, but getting down hot tea just didn’t seem appealing. However, for whatever reason (maybe it was because he added a lot of honey!), I found it soothing and drank several cups of it. The next day I improved a little and I kept drinking the tea. I kept drinking the tea and improving just a little until I was being able to eat my cheese sandwiches and noodles once again without total despair. I noticed when I stopped drinking the tea I would start getting really sick again. So while this tea didn’t cure my morning sickness, it improved me enough that I was able to cope better.

You better believe I was grateful!

I think that every sick pregnant women has to find what helps her. Some find that eating protein often throughout the day helps, others find taking supplements like vitamin B6 or ginger helps dramatically. I’ve heard of some who eat beans everyday to keep morning sickness at bay. I’ve had friends who have done acupuncture with incredible results. Peppermint tea, cheese, pickles, lemons, beef, soup, whatever it is, once you’ve found something you can handle, use it. For me, eating very often and drinking that tea helped me survive.

I wasn’t able to always eat what I wish I could (fish roe and beef liver? I don’t think so!), but I did try to make the best choice I could. When I wanted Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, my husband found a natural brand without weird chemicals and colorings in it. When I could eat eggs, I ate the best quality eggs I could find. When I could have buttered toast, I used pastured buttered.

Because I have suffered from morning sickness before, I really tried to build up my body and nutrient base before I got pregnant. That way at least I knew I was starting well nourished even if I couldn’t eat well during theΒ  beginning of the pregnancy. Because I was concerned about it, I even had a comprehensive blood test work done before we got pregnant (and I was assured that I was “well nourished”).

I am still occasionally getting sick now if I don’t eat soon enough or get over tired from trying to do too much, but it’s much better. I am just starting to be able to eat meat again consistently (in fact, now I crave it! Especially beef). I am enjoying being in the kitchen again, when only a month or two ago I thought I would never want to shadow one again. Most of all, I am enjoying the wonder of this new life growing inside of me. I enjoy knowing that when I feed myself good food, it’s helping both of us. It’s nice to be able to feel like you can begin to nurture your children even before they are born.

In the end, my advice to you, if you have misfortune to be as sick as me, is to try to survive the morning sickness making the best choices you can under the circumstances. That’s all you can do. Oh, and watch movies to distract yourself when it’s really bad. That helps too.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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Comments

  1. Penny says

    Hello and Congratulations!
    I love your website so much, thank you for sharing.
    My youngest child just graduated from High School and although I am well past the days of morning sickness, I could still relate to your post!
    When I was pregnant with my recently graduated 18 yr old, I was so sick that I didn’t know how I (or baby) would make it. I didn’t have more than a few weeks of morning sickness with my first, so I was surprised to be so sick. I finally talked to my allergy/natural doctor about it and he immediately started giving me B complex w/ C injections every week even though my “regular” OB was saying “they think it’s better not to”. I was desperate, I had to! As long as I got the injection every 7 days, I was fine, but, if I went 8 days or more, I began to get sick again. When my daughter was pregnant with her first child, she had morning sickness worse than I did and ended up in the hospital a couple of times from dehydration. The only thing she could keep down for a good while was juice drinks from her local jamba store. (She hates needles so injections weren’t for her!) I hope everyone with morning sickness finds their individual answers quickly!
    Penny

  2. says

    oh my goodness, “morning” aka all day sickness is so so terrible. what you describe is exactly what i felt during my pregnancy ith Eliza. i hate to even say this, but it didnt stop until she was born! literally until the end of labor i threw up every single day, multiple times a day. somehow i had a beautifully healthy big baby in the end. i just read an interview yesterday with an MD who is having success treating infertility and morning sickness ith a high animal product, low carb diet, see here- http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/low-carb-gynecologist.html
    i dont know what works, i didnt figure it out but i did have a healthy baby and i am now very healthy myself. this too shall pass!

    • Sarah says

      I am super curious about the low carb diet while pregnant, I will have to check out that link. I was eating very low carb prior to getting pregnant and loved it! But I stopped because it wasn’t clear to me if it was safe while carrying a baby (lots of different people saying lots of different things on the subject). And now, as I struggle with “all day sickness” (basically feel hung over and sea sick 24/7) the ONLY thing that helps is lots and lots of carbs. It’s been difficult to switch my brain between the two extremes but I think it’s mostly taught me that every body is so so different!

  3. says

    Oh man, you sound like I did when I was pregnant. I lost my baby, but I had very bad morning sickness when I was pregnant. I never ate cold cereal before that either, but that and Hansen’s Jamaican Ginger Ale was all I could handle for WEEKS.

    I am glad to hear that you are feeling better! Enjoy your time in the kitchen!

    • Penny says

      Not sure how women feel about consuming sweeteners while they are pregnant, but for those that can/do and have blood sugar problems. I saw Hansen’s had Splenda and Ace K sweetened ginger ale and others drinks yesterday when I was shopping at Sprouts. Note: I have no idea about the safety of this during pregnancy! I also saw they had Zevio (I think is the name) and they were sweetened with Stevia I believe.

  4. Alicia says

    Thanks for the post, and I’m glad you have found a couple things that help you. I had regular nausea when I was pregnant, and my son is currently 13mo old. No second pregnancy yet, but I have been taking milk thistle regularly to support my liver before another pregnancy. I have read that supplement can have a good impact on reducing future morning sickness. I am wondering, what are the things you did before the pregnancy to build your nutrition? It seems like maybe restoring B vitamin levels is good?

  5. Kris Mays says

    I am the same. The last few pregnancies I lost A LOT of weight (I could stand to at least) and basically couldn’t eat for months. I am sick the entire pregnancy and it has gotten worse with each one.

    I am about to do a colon cleanse to get myself in top condition before we are (hopefully) blessed with our seventh child. I also want to do a liver cleanse. I did find that it helped to take Silymarin Milk Thistle, as it gives liver support. The condition of liver is what some think is the cause of the morning sickness in the first place.

    Lemon juice does also help me, too. And you probably don’t want to know this, but Lemonheads (the candy) can help, too.

  6. says

    I can so relate to what you’ve been going through with your pregnancy! It almost makes me feel sick again just reading it!

    We have 5 children (10, 8, 7, 4 and 9 months) and I’ve been sick with each of my 5 pregnancies. The first pregnancy I thought I would die I was so sick. I couldn’t keep anything down, including water. I would spend every day vomiting and I was constantly nauseated. It was the worst 5 months of my life (yes, my “morning” sickness lasts until the 5th month! It is all-day-and-all-night sickness and I’m always bed-ridden for those 5 months.). I was bedridden and so, so miserable. I had a midwife (CNM) who could come to my home and give me IV fluids if I needed them. (We’ve used a midwife with every pregnancy, and we’ve been so blessed to have our 5 children born at home.) In the end I was forced to resort to anti-nausea medications to keep myself and my baby alive.

    With each pregnancy I’ve found different things that have worked, and most “nourishing” food hasn’t been something that has helped! I’ve tried every remedy that I’ve ever seen or heard of (“sea bands,” a Relief band (electronic tens unit thing), lemon water, milk thistle, B6, raw diet, Dr. Brewer’s diet, red raspberry tea made into popsicles, beans, lavender essential oil (and other aromatherapy oils), ginger (in the form of pills, gum, candy), Phenergan, meclizine, etc., etc., etc. ) You name it, I’ve probably tried it.

    As you mentioned, different foods worked for me at different times, and I would use those foods until they no longer worked or sounded good to me. Popsicles were my favorite thing during several of my pregnancies, and the only way I could keep liquids down so that I didn’t get dehydrated. With my last pregnancy for a time I could force down bean burritos while I watched a DVD. I definitely found with all of my pregnancies that watching a movie of some sort was very helpful while I tried to eat. During this last pregnancy I watched Pride and Prejudice 5 times, I think! πŸ™‚ I also found that chewing a piece of peppermint gum (usually I chewed Peelu) was sometimes helpful in preventing a vomiting episode. I would go into the bathroom with the light off and stand there in the dark chewing the gum and focusing on not vomiting. It sounds strange, but it often worked.

    Anyway, Kimi, I can really empathize with you! I’m so glad you are feeling somewhat better, and I’ll be praying for your family, your little baby, and Sono.

    Blessings~
    Joy

  7. Colleen Sleadd says

    Oh thank you for this post. Today my morning sickness has been particularly awful. My house is in disrepair and I haven’t stepped in the kitchen. Good to know that ‘coping’ is sometimes all you can do.

  8. Lauren says

    blech i hate even thinking about this, I had hyperemisis and threw up every.single.day. until two days after i gave birth. I hate that it had to go this way but me and my daughter would not have survived my pregnancy if it wasn’t for a drug called Zofran, but it was a absolutely a last resort, after I spent too much time in the hospital getting fluids.

    i barely remember eating anything during my pregnancy that I kept down and the only thing that comes to mind is maple and brown sugar oatmeal.

  9. says

    Shalom Kimi, Its been sooo long for me since I was pregnant with my two teens, but I do recall having morning sickness with my son, our first but not our daughter. According to Dr Batmanghelidj’s book, “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water” from http://www.watercure.com/ , increasing water intake can make a difference. I learned so much from that book years ago. (you’ve probably already read it). It sounds like you will be blessed with much advice from moms, you are sure to find something which will help you and your baby.

    blessings
    carmen

  10. Genevieve says

    Congratulations and thank you for this post. I can relate to everything you said. I am 23 weeks pregnant and for the first 15 weeks I was sick 24/7. It was horrible. I was sick with my first but not as much. I thought that eating a “nourishing tradition” diet would help but it didn’t. Unfortunately, I tried everything to get better and nothing seemed to work.
    I am glad you feel better and am looking forward to trying more of your wonderful recipes

  11. Jory says

    You sound exactly like me in pregnancy!! My first one was worse. I was sick for all but the last 4 weeks (which were heavenly!). I couldn’t even drive a car, it made me soo soo sick. And definitely no getting near the kitchen! I ended up on some pretty serious pharmaceuticals just
    to keep food and water down. Its amazing to me that I ended up with a healthy little girl. I am so happy for you that it sounds like it is passing. With my second pregnancy it was so much better. I was still sick for 18 weeks but much better than 35 weeks! And I tried every natural remedy under the sun. Though I still had to take a pharma pill for pregnancy #2, I noticed that after an alternative health care provider gave me adrenal support I was better within 2 days and got to stop taking the pill. It really was a dramatic shift. I cant imagine going through that 7 times ( for Kris Mays…you are a saint!).
    Anyway, I wish I had tried that with pregnancy #1 so if anyone reading this is suffering, it is one more possibility. Oh, and I loved lemon water and Bubbies pickles and saurkraut too!

  12. Annabelle says

    Hi Kimi just wanted to write a quick note to say I hope you feel better soon and I’m in awe after reading this post that we saw any content from you at all over the past few months! I’m pregnant too and am so happy for you guys. We’re due in September and I’m sorry I don’t have any horrific stories to share, I often forget I’m pregnant until the baby kicks me in the bladder to remind me πŸ™‚
    So hang in there and I’m sure you’ll get better and thanks for your tips and tricks, they’re inspirational and good material to keep around in case the next one isn’t so easy…

  13. Carla says

    Even though my son was born 27 months ago, I wanted to cry reading your post. I was so sick during my pregnancy that my doctor actually asked me if I was thinking of terminating it. It never entered my mind but I must say that I eventually broke down and had to take medication. I was vomiting about 40 times a day and completely unable to cope with having to be in the hospital, the IVs, etc. You are so strong and I am so impressed with your determination. I wish I had had the courage to get through the pregnancy without taking any meds.

    • KimiHarris says

      Oh dear Carla,

      I wasn’t throwing up 40 times a day! I understand completely why decided to take medications. Don’t feel guilty. πŸ™‚

  14. Kara says

    I’m glad you’re starting to feel better! I feel like I just went through this – our little guy turned three months old yesterday. It was such a bummer last summer to feel so sick, and have really specific food likes when none of them included all the wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables summer brings. You’re absolutely right – you just have to get through it the best you can!

  15. Kimberly says

    Hello,
    Advancedalternativecenters.com has a great article about taking adrenal cortex during morning sickness. I hope this helps!

  16. Lucy says

    Congratulations! I am an 8 time veteran of almost 5 month morning sickness and the type of B6 that worked for me is P5P. It is B6 just one step further down the assimilation chain. My body could not utilize regular B6. This spared me a full month of sickness with my last pregnancy and lessened the severity of the first 4 months.
    If you are a hyper salivator during this time, try to constantly sip fresh lemon and water or suck on Amla Cs.
    It’s all worth it!

  17. Amy Best says

    Oh my Kimi, I didn’t realize you’ve been so sick! I’m so sorry! If I’d have known, I would have brought you some raw cheese or something!! πŸ™‚ Glad you are feeling somewhat better.

  18. Pippi says

    I know what you mean about doing your best — even if it’s not what you would consider “ideal.” I’m 26 weeks pregnant and while I was never sick to my stomach during the first trimester I had terrible food aversions, smell aversions, and no energy. My husband was super busy at work so he could only do so much. I went to the store and got processed food with the least amount of yucky stuff I could find. Perogies, frozen pizza even, organic mac and cheese — anything that was fast, bland, and didn’t smell too much. I had so many smoothies we couldn’t make yogurt fast enough and had to supplement with store bought. We don’t have a dishwasher so easy clean-up was a must as well. Eggs in particular made me feel awful — my perfect last minute dinner was gone!

    I remember grocery shopping for the first time after I felt better. I looked at my basket and it had lettuce, dried beans, meat — ingredients instead boxes and bags. It was such a relief!

    I’m so glad you’re feeling better! It’s such a relief to be passed that first stage. Best wishes for a happy healthy pregnancy!

  19. Michelle Hink says

    I highly recommend “The Natural Pregnancy Book” by Aviva Jill Romm. She is a midwife and herbalist and has great practical, natural and herbal remedies for just about any pregnancy problem. She also has some good suggestions for having a healthy pregnancy and birthing options.

  20. says

    I never had such a problem with my two pregnancies… so I must consider my self lucky on this respect… I hope you’ll pass it over, for surely it is a difficult to manage feeling… but, in a little while a baby will come and you will forget everything… take care!!

  21. connie says

    hi kimi,
    wow, you sure have been going through a lot! it must be especially hard with a little one at home to take care of, too. glad your husband is sweet and supportive……and you have a great attitude about it all, too. take it one day at a time and just do the best you can. seeing that cute little baby will make it so worth it!!!

  22. Megan Root says

    Thanks for the post kimi! I’m only 8 1/2 weeks pregnant, but the last week has been really rough. Thankfully I’m not throwing up and I can eat a fair amount of food, but neasea 24/7 is depressing and draining. I’m hoping it doesn’t last the whole pregnancy.

    blessings ~ Megan

  23. says

    For some reason I find it comforting to know that I’m not the only woman out there that gets soooo sick and tired during the first trimester. It is a very, very trying time especially when I started to compromise on my family’s eating just so I could get through the day. I never found, “the cure” for myself (other than time), but am determined to get in better shape before getting pregnant again. I can’t think of much else to do. At least you get a wonderful blessing at the end of all of this! Best of luck and congratulations!

  24. Rachel says

    Wow, I felt like I just read a page out of my own diary! I’m at 19 weeks now and today is the first day I’ve felt I can look at my regular food blogs again! I’ve been mostly morning sickness free for several weeks now but this is my first and I’ve felt like we haven’t been eating at all as well as we usually would. My darling husband has been trying and has learnt alot about soaking grains (he’s in charge of breakfasts) and he also sourced a place for me to get cheese (we live in China so cheese is a luxury)! Anyway, it sounds like my nausea hasn’t been as bad as yours but that was the most encouraging post to read because my eating pattern has almost followed yours to the T. Scrambled eggs??? I don’t think so! But definitely fried on hot buttered toast…only we haven’t eat as much toast as I would like because I haven’t mastered the sour dough and haven’t had the energy to make it from scratch. I’m hoping that for next time I’m pregnant, I’ll understand what its like and be able to stock up and freeze a few dishes to give my poor hubs a break sometimes!

  25. Lela says

    Ok, I feel like a whining whimp, now. I googled morning sickness, ’cause I’m feeling so lousy, since about 2 weeks (I’m in week 9 now), and found this site. I feel nauseated all day plus heartburn (it’s quite early for that symptom; I know), and it’s so irritating, and just ‘aeeehh’, I wish I could ‘jump out of my skin’. However, I don’t have any urge to vomit and, actually, while eating whatever is the only time when I DON’T feel nauseated. But, of course, I can’t eat all of the time… Your stories put a new perspective on my ‘suffering’. Wonder how my ‘giving birth experience’ will be, when I obviously can’t even handle my rather slight nausea…

  26. Erin says

    I got lucky, real lucky. You all are gonna hate me now..lol. I have two beautiful girls, they are now 4 (graciela) and 1.5 (jasmin). I never had morning sickness. I never vomited. I only had 1 moment between the two of them where I felt nausea. Other than that, nothing. And I won’t ever, as I had my tubes tied, we aren’t having anymore kids. So I made it through the only kids I will ever have untouched by morning sickness.

  27. Laura King says

    Hi Kimi and all those who suffer from morning sickness,

    I suspect this is of little comfort when you are suffering from morning sickness but I do remember from my training in nutritional science that there is research to suggest that babies from mothers who have morning sickness have better outcomes. I can’t remember what the measures were but it was thought that the babies got very good at extracting nutrients from their food supply. I hope that this offers some comfort.

    Laura.

  28. says

    Wow Kimi,
    You poor thing; what a miserable time you’ve had, and for all those weeks. What cruel irony that you had to keep up with a food blog! I’m so glad to hear you’re improving.

    I’m curious about what kind of blood work you got done; this seems like a worthwhile thing to do, even just to establish a baseline for oneself. I’d love to know more about it.

  29. Kelsey says

    My situation is strange because I’m not pregnant (we’ve been trying for three years, no luck yet) but I have developed pretty intense adrenal issues recently and have been experiencing all the pregnancy symptoms with none of the benefits of being pregnant! I’m exhausted and nauseated most of the time (especially in the mornings) and have had spurts where I can’t stand the smell of any type of food (I just have to stay in my bedroom with the door closed). For about a week all I could eat was plain turkey sandwiches on white bread (which we never buy). I felt terrible eating such yucky food but I had to eat something! My husband would freeze water and Emergen-C and other juices into ice cubes for me to suck on because otherwise I couldn’t keep any fluids down. Most days I’m not that sick, but I do feel nauseated most the time, and am glad I’m not the only one just trying to survive it! I guess I’ll be well-prepared for when we do get blessed with a pregnancy!

  30. KGR's Mom says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m 7 weeks prego with my 4th and I have been sick for 3 weeks already. So far, my sickness has gotten worse with each kid and the last time it stuck around for pretty much the whole time.

    We have been eating fairly healthy food since the 3rd was born 2 years ago, and we tend to follow Nourishing Traditions. It is killing me that the only things that sound good to me are fast food and white carbs. I’m trying to make the best choices I can, but this really encourages me to let go of what we usually eat and do the best I can right now. No matter what, it is definitely better than the way I ate with the first 3. πŸ™‚

    Also, for the last week I haven’t been able to stand water….just made myself some really strong lemon water and it is MUCH better!

  31. Sarah says

    I am 9 weeks pregnant and have had horrible morning sickness. Vomitting 2-3 times a day. It’s been going on for about a month now. Just the other day I had a craving for a lemon and I ate it and I felt miraculously better. So since then I’ve been sucking on lemons; sometimes I add a little salt to help balance out what I am losing from being sick. It really helps. It has been so bad that I cry all the time. I feel like I have the flu 24/7; and it puts a strain on my work and my relationship because it’s hard for me to do anything but sleep.

    I am game to try anything that is not harmful (lemons are probably not that great for my teeth; but the doctor encouraged it if it helped).

  32. Mary says

    9 weeks pregnant and can hardly keep anything down except pineapple and ripe bananas since week 4.I feel so terrible and weak.

  33. A says

    I’m sitting here bawling my eyes out reading this because I’m so extremely grateful that you wrote this post. I’m 8 weeks prego with baby #3 and am so sick. This time around is almost identical to what you wrote- where I am always hungry but I’m not hungry for anything on our normal “nourishing” menu. So then I feel guilty that I’m not eating the way that I WANT to but also know that I have to get SOMETHING in me…even if not the absolute best (I agree- liver? Not a chance). I, too, am so grateful for a patient hubby who gets what I think I can eat whenever I say I need it. Don’t know what I’d do without him. But it’s still depressing when you don’t see an end to it…and when it interferes with your holiday plans. πŸ™ But I thank you so much for the encouragement this provided me. I know that I’m not alone and that I’m not an awful person if I feel I need to eat some cereal…lol!

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