Severe sickness can be exhausting and stop you doing everyday tasks, eg, going to work or even getting out of bed.
Rest as much as possible and avoid getting overtired. You’re likely to have times when you feel worse and other times when you feel better. Avoid the temptation to try and catch up on tasks when you’re feeling better. Just do the essential things and ask for help with everything else.
Avoid nausea triggers
Many people find sensory stimulation, eg, noises, moving visual images, bright light, strong smells and even the movement of air from an open window can all trigger vomiting.
- Avoid foods and food smells that make you feel nauseous.
- Try sea-sickness acupressure bracelets or acupuncture.
Ongoing vomiting can lead to dehydration, so you need to make sure you're getting enough fluids.
- Take small sips of water or other fluids regularly, rather than a glass at a time.
- Try electrolyte drinks to keep up the levels of minerals and salts that you need.
- If you can't tolerate drinks, try sucking ice cubes, iceblocks (eg, Popsicles or Frujus), or sipping very slowly through a straw.
Hunger can make the nausea and vomiting worse.
- Eat slowly and regularly. Have a small meal/snack every 2 to 3 hours.
- A bland, protein-rich diet may be more bearable.
- Carbohydrates are also important as our bodies use them for energy. If too little carbohydrate is eaten, your body breaks down its own muscle stores, which leads to the production of ketones. Ketones in the blood cause an increase in nausea, so stopping this cycle is important.
- Try eating a biscuit or crackers before you get out of bed.
- Try to avoid coffee, spicy, smelly, high fat, fried, acidic and very sweet foods.
- Gentle exercise in fresh air (eg, a walk outside) can make you feel better.
- Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and have a nap during the day if you can.
- If the smell of food is triggering for you, try eating cold food instead.
Foods that tend to be easier to tolerate include:
- mashed potatoes
- dry salty crackers
- boiled sweets or barley sugars
- potato chips
- rice crackers
- plain scones/muffins
- tinned or fresh fruit
- dry toast
- diluted fruit juice or flat lemonade
- plain sweet biscuits
- plain vegetables
- peppermint, ginger or chamomile tea.
Hyperemesis gravidarum can have a huge impact on your life at a time when you were expecting to be enjoying pregnancy and looking forward to the birth of your baby.
As well as feeling sick, you might also feel:
- anxious about going out in case you need to vomit (be sick)
- isolated because you don't know anyone who understands what it's like to have hyperemesis
- unsure whether you can cope with the rest of the pregnancy if you continue to feel very ill.
If you’re feeling down or alone, don't keep it to yourself. Talk to your midwife or doctor, and explain the impact hyperemesis is having on your life and how it's making you feel. You could also talk to your partner, whānau and friends if you want to.
Hyperemesis gravidarum is much worse than regular pregnancy sickness. It’s not the result of anything you have or haven't done, and it’s important you get treatment and support.