Is it even possible to eat while suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum?
The answer is… SORT OF
With persistent nausea and vomiting, eating is likely the last but also the only thing on a pregnant woman’s mind. She wants to eat – she wants to eat SO badly! But she also doesn’t want to eat because eating would mean vomiting and she really… REALLY… doesn’t want to vomit anymore.
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**Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.
Tip #1: Accept thy curse
The trick to eating while suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum is to accept the fact that nothing you eat will stay down. But you will need to find ways to get nutrients into your body anyway, in order for you and your baby to survive, and to reduce the need to be hospitalized and fed through a tube.
ACCEPT that you will feel like crap every single day of your pregnancy until the day that baby pops out of you and not one second before.
DON’T expect to feel better after vomiting as if you just ate some bad shrimp.
ACCEPT that no home remedy for morning sickness will help you.
DON’T count down the days until the end of the first trimester, expecting it to go away.
ACCEPT that you are strong enough to do this and that the benefits will greatly outweigh the struggle in the end.
DON’T tell others that you are fine when you are clearly suffering. Tell them how to help you.
Tip #2: Every Second Counts
If you can keep something in your stomach for just 5 minutes, then it’s better than nothing at all.
There are three characteristics to look for when choosing a food for this purpose:
If you don’t have the energy to cook healthy food for yourself, you can try a boxed meal delivery service like Hello Fresh which takes care of all the work for you.
Smooth texture: If it goes down easy – it will come up easy. It may seem disturbing to have a choose a food based on what it will be like coming back up, but that is exactly what you will need to do to survive HG.
Contrary to popular belief, things like sweet, juicy fruit like apples, berries and melons (which you WILL crave while dehydrated, nauseous and pregnant) may not be the best option. The natural fruit juices get absorbed very quickly leaving the pulp behind which is extremely unpleasant coming back up.
Tip #3: Avoid Water
I know this sounds counter-productive for someone who is battling dehydration but plain old-fashioned water is one of the hardest things to drink with HG.
Water can often induce vomiting when you have an extra sensitive stomach, especially after eating something. It seems to stir everything up in the stomach and cause more damage than good.
Staying hydrated is essential and some alternatives to water include:
Natural mineral water: the fizziness sometimes helps, sometimes makes it worse.
Coconut water: try it both cold and at room temperature to see which you prefer, as this can change the flavor.
Popsicles: they melt slowly which can feel better than having liquid go straight into your stomach. These Pedialyte freezer pops are a great option to help restore your electrolytes and they can provide a cooling sensation if they do come back up. Beware of flavors that are too sweet or sour.
Ice chips: if all else fails and you’re not able to keep down any liquids at all, then sucking on ice chips is one way to stay hydrated.
It sounds extreme but it’s not at all unusual for a woman with hyperemesis gravidarum to be unable to keep down even a sip of water to take her prenatal vitamins or prescription anti-emetics (I speak from experience).
Tip #4: Tiny Portions
I’m not exaggerating when I say tiny.
Small portions are usually recommended for nausea and vomiting but I’m not talking about “small.” When I say “tiny” I mean, “itty-bitty-not-enough-food-for-a-mouse”…
Try one tablespoon of food or liquid every 10-15 minutes.
If it stays down, have another and so on.
If it doesn’t stay down, try half a tablespoon every 30 minutes.
Keep experimenting with tiny portions. It may seem tedious and pointless but one spoonful of food is better than none at all.
I know the pain of hyperemesis gravidarum all too well having battled it with all three of my pregnancies. It’s easy to avoid eating all together in an effort to avoid vomiting when that’s all you’ve been doing for weeks. But starvation, dehydration and malnutrition are far worse things to struggle with than vomiting.
Chances are – you will never be able to eat properly throughout an HG pregnancy, instead you will spend the entire 9 months simply “trying to eat.”