Let’s talk about morning sickness.


I feel bloody awful.

So this is me at seven weeks, and I should be starting to get morning sickness around now.

Well I first started to feel sick in the week before the pregnancy test, and it has got gradually worse and worse. It has been in its current state for a week or so.

It is such, now, that I feel sick pretty much all of the time from morning to night although the intensity of the feeling of sickness varies. But here’s the thing. I’ve not been sick. I just feel sick. Even so, it is debilitating. Any sort of activity like walking around the house or getting dressed makes me feel sick. The thought of food makes me feel sick. The thought of eating any more ginger makes me feel sick. The thought of having to go somewhere on the bus makes me feel sick. I can just about manage to haul my ass into my office and do a couple of hours of typing, but the thought of having to go to a meeting or talk to anyone makes me feel sick. I’m exhausted. And dizzy.

What I can say is that this feels like a hormone sickness rather than a gastro intestinal sickness. I can’t really describe how I know that, other than saying it is based on my own experience of my own body before. I suppose I could say it feels a bit like a motion sickness, and it also feels like throwing up would not give me any relief from it. I think this is backed up by the fact that it started to come on before the pregnancy test, around the time that the pregnancy hormone (HCG) would have started kicking in. It is further backed up by the fact that I previously had a lot of trouble finding oral contraceptives that didn’t make me feel awful, and they use hormones to fool your body into thinking you are pregnant. Plus I’m keeping food down fine, so my innards are clearly not irritated.

I’ve been able to manage this to a certain extent. I’ve found that ginger made a difference to start with, but now it is not enough. But eating little and often takes the edge off it. I can eat:

– Ready salted crisps
– Potatoes
– Bananas
– Cereal bars
– Sausages
– Cold pizza

At the weekend the husband went to the pharmacy and asked their advice, and picked up some travel sickness bands which work by hitting pressure points in your wrists and fooling your head into ignoring nausea. They made a bit of a difference, but didn’t take it all away. Even with them on, my instinct was still to sit in bed all day.

Here’s the good things about the situation:

– Feeling sick is a positive indication that the pregnancy is progressing
– I’m not actually spewing
– I can eat some things, so am confident I am getting enough calories
– Morning sickness in itself is not dangerous for me or the baby (vomming all day – hyperemesis
gravidarum – is, but I’m not doing that)

But, basically I can’t really do my job at the moment, because I am so distracted by feeling terrible at all times. And that is crappy. It makes me feel pathetic. I love my work, I’m self employed and don’t get paid if I don’t work, I worked right through the IVF, and yet I’m not feeling able to work now. I am choosing to lie in bed and moan rather than earn money. This just doesn’t happen. This just isn’t in my nature.

And I am starting to get worried that realistically I’ll have to give up work, now, without warning. I realise morning sickness typically wears off around 12 weeks, but I appear to be allergic to HCG or something and looking at HCG graphs I will continue to have around this level of HCG in my system for the last six months of the pregnancy. So I’m not optimistic of this getting better. It is worth it, I still believe that, but I realised I might not be able to work from now on. That was a big shock and very unwelcome.

I also feel ridiculous to complain about this when I’m not even being sick, as my instinct tells me vomiting is harder to cope with than nausea.

However, it has been relentless. I just felt so terrible that I thought I’d like to seek medical advice.

But everyone knows you have to man up and deal with morning sickness as a normal part of pregnancy, right? People grit their teeth and get on with this stuff. People go into work, and throw up a couple of times, and get on with their jobs. Maybe most women do, but I couldn’t believe that what I was experiencing was what most women experience and cope with.

I found a really helpful website about NVP (nausea and vomiting in pregnancy) and read a meta review of the current medical evidence on the subject. Here’s some things I found out:

Percentage of [pregnant] women who had nausea only: 32%

Severity of nausea in a study of 363 women, 292 of whom had NVP, the mean number of hours of nausea per pregnancy was 56 hours and this symptom lasted for a median of 41 days (almost 6 weeks). In 36% of women who had NVP, the nausea lasted for up to 33 hours per pregnancy, but 21% had nausea which lasted for 100-300 hours and a further 10% from 300-700 hours, a thoroughly distressing and depressing experience.

Nausea was the most common symptom experienced. Vomiting was frequently experienced but did not cause as much distress. Clearly nausea would be the most troublesome symptom experienced by women in terms of its duration and intensity, with the day to day constancy becoming wearisome. Most women report that persistent nausea negatively affects their quality of life, whereas vomiting often signals relief of symptoms.

Here’s my conclusion: feeling this crap is not normal in pregnancy. Well, it is not unusual to have nausea without vomiting during pregnancy but I’m getting the amount of nausea in a week that a normal woman gets in her whole pregnancy.

So. Today the husband made me an appointment at the GP and accompanied me there right into the consultation. This level of supervision is something that usually doesn’t happen either – that’s how crappy I feel. Luckily the GP took me seriously and has prescribed an antihistamine called Phenergan (Promethazine hydrochloride) which is used to treat nausea and vomiting and is safe during pregnancy. The GP suggested we call the IVF clinic to ensure they are happy for me to take this, and they are, so that’s good.

I’ve taken one.

Hopefully that’ll perk me up a bit.