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This article answers the question How Can Dads Support Moms With Morning Sickness? While this article is intended primarily for dads, moms can also benefit from it, especially by skipping ahead to the section: Tips, Tricks, And Hacks For Dealing With Morning Sickness.
Dads, so many moms suffer horribly from morning sickness that you naturally want to do everything you can to help. We'll cover the basics of morning sickness, then jump into 20 Actionable Steps You Can Take To Help Mom With Her Morning Sickness.
We'll follow that up with 22 Tips, Tricks, and Hacks For Dealing With Morning Sickness.
But before we do, you may want to check out two other articles that describe how you can support your partner during pregnancy: How Can You Be A Supportive Dad During Pregnancy and Labor? and How Can You Support Your Partner In Postpartum Depression?
What Is Morning Sickness And Its Symptoms?
- Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
- Often described as feeling similar to motion sickness.
- Despite its name, can happen at any time, day or night.
- Can be triggered by certain food smells and other odors.
- Can be triggered by eating, especially spicy foods.
- May have no apparent trigger at all.
- Is often brought on by heat or severe salivation.
- Is often accompanied by an increased sense of smell and frequent urination.
- Affects about 70%-90% of women.
- Affects women, especially during the first semester, usually between the 6th week and the 12th to 20th weeks. May last several weeks or months, and for 5% of women, throughout the entire pregnancy.
What Causes Morning Sickness?
We can't say for sure what causes morning sickness, but it is linked to the massive hormonal changes accompanying pregnancy, such as elevated levels of estrogen and the hormone BHCG, an imbalance of potassium and magnesium in the bloodstream, low levels of vitamin B6, and low blood sugar levels.
The most significant thing to remember is that it does not harm your baby. In fact, it shows that a woman's hormones are functioning well, and the baby is thriving. One study cited by Web MD found that women who experienced nausea and vomiting had a 50-75% lower risk of surgery loss.
What Puts You At Risk For Morning Sickness?
- Having twins.
- Nausea and vomiting in a previous pregnancy.
- A history of migraine headaches.
- A tendency for motion sickness, such as car sickness.
- Feeling sick when taking contraceptives containing estrogen.
- Sensitivity to particular tastes or smells.
- Morning sickness that runs in your family.
- Obesity or first pregnancy.
We're Assuming You're An Active, Involved Dad
That's a pretty safe assumption since you're reading this article. Studies have shown that an involved, all-in, emotionally involved dad dramatically contributes to a better overall pregnancy experience for his partner, both her happiness and security.
At the same time, you're sending your partner a message that you'll be a reliable, available dad who will later be sharing in child care as well. And you'll find that not only will it improve her experience, but being all-in improves yours just as much.
Twenty Actionable Steps To Take
So here are 20 actionable steps you can take to help with your partner's dreadful "morning" sickness. Of course, nobody's perfect but try to hit on as many of these suggestions as you can.
1. Learn What Triggers Her.
What sets her nausea off? What smells are triggers? What unexpected things make her sick? For instance, let her know it's okay to throw up in front of you but if she's not okay with that, then vacate immediately.
Be strategic and do what you can to help her avoid her nausea triggers.
2. Understand What Her Saying "No" To Activities Means.
It doesn't mean she wouldn't like to do them. It means she's not feeling well enough or running on energy that's simply too low to function well. Maybe she's uncomfortable being in a situation where she might need to run to the bathroom to heave. Don't take "no" personally. It's not forever.
3. Try To Be The Main Food Concierge.
The sights and smells of food may sicken her now. Take over as far as possible in preparing and bringing home meals. If she should suggest something to eat, go for it! Make her meals as nutritious as possible with foods on her shrinking list of things that won't sicken her.
You know the drill--whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes, etc.
4. If She's Not Getting Enough Variety In Her Diet.
If you think she may not be getting enough variety, she may need to see her practitioner or dietician.
5. Pack Her Snacks.
She's trying to eat smaller meals spaced out more frequently throughout the day, so make her a care package to take on the go. Pack it with small snacks that she can tolerate. Include small packets of biscuits or crackers to snack on when nausea strikes. She'll be thanking you with every bite.
6. Take Advantage Of Cold Foods.
Cold foods generally produce less smell than cooked ones, so take advantage and provide her with cold foods she might tolerate better.
7 Encourage Her To Take Naps Or Let Her Rest.
Sleep issues can begin right from the start of pregnancy. So encourage mom to nap or at least rest while you watch the other kids or just keep the house going. This may be the only respite she gets from her nausea, and she may already be walking around dead tired.
8 Yep, Do More Around The House.
Is there a better way to express love? She may be running on nauseous fumes, so step up and pitch in with more of the household chores and watching the other kiddos. More chores may not be fun, but it's more fun than being sick to your stomach and barfing.
If it's financially possible, you may consider hiring a weekly housekeeper.
9. Make More Store and Errand Runs.
She might not be sure she can even get through an errand run without having to throw up, and her energy level might be nil. This especially goes for grocery store runs, where smelling all the different foods might be too much for her sensitive stomach.
10. Pick Your Complaints.
Talking about the most important issues and concerns in life -- that's a given. But more minor complaints, maybe not so much. This may not be when she wants to hear about your slight headache, tough commute, or tummy ache. Pick your complaints wisely!
11. Do What You Can To Make Her Feel Better.
If a neck or foot massage would help out, offer one now and then. If gently massaging her tummy helps, then make her feel better. And give her a chance to put her feet up now and then.
12. Stay Affectionate.
Just because she may act like she has the plague, don't treat her as if she does. This is the time she could appreciate an affectionate kiss, hug, pat, or having her hand held.
13. Go To Dr. Appointments With Her.
As often as possible, go to doctor appointments with her. Maybe you can't share her misery but show some solidarity and interest in how her pregnancy is progressing.
14. Let Her Vent.
Be There For Her Emotionally. Feeling constantly ill can build up frustration. Let her get it all out, even if she isn't 100% rational.
Be ready to listen to her complaints and let her know you understand what she's going through. Be an emotional crutch for her if she needs it; why not? If it can help make the going a little easier.
15. Keep Talking About The Important Stuff.
Know that one of the most important, if not the most important thing in your relationship, is to be able to talk about the things you feel most deeply. That goes for your hopes, concerns, doubts, worries, and victories.
If you have problems – say that you're worried about finances or that you might not be the best dad in the world or that it's tough watching her suffer – always feel free to talk about these things even though she has morning sickness (well, wait until she's done puking, at least.)
The mantra of good relationships is to keep talking.
16. Let Her Know You Appreciate Her Sacrifice. (And Hopefully, She'll Appreciate Yours, Too.)
Appreciation is a salve that takes the sting out of sacrifice.
Sometimes it makes all the difference that another human being recognizes and cares about what you're contributing. Let her know that the sacrifice she's making benefits both of you in creating an amazing human being. Let her know she's a great mom.
17. Look At The Sacrifices You're Making As An Actual Bonding Experience.
Realize that when you put someone else's feelings ahead of your own, it's a great way to bond. Know that by taking the initiative in taking on these steps, your relationship is made stronger and helps you to be closer with your partner. Notice also that it makes you feel better about yourself.
18. All Things Must Pass.
Try to be patient and realize that as tough as things may look now; they are temporary. This, too, shall pass. And how you handle this difficult phase will have a lot to do with how you feel about yourself and your partnership in the future.
19. Bring Her Something For The New Baby.
See something cute or fun that would be perfect for the new baby? Pick it up. It'll remind her the end is in sight and why she's going through all this.
20. Know That It Can't Be All Giving.
As you practice these steps, realize that you also have to take time to care for yourself: the basics like eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Also, take some time for your mental well-being, whether that means spending time with a hobby, seeing friends, or just chilling out.
No one can always be giving. You have to make the time to revitalize yourself.
Twenty-Two Tips, Tricks, and Hacks For Moms Dealing With Morning Sickness
Though you're probably already familiar with some or many of these suggestions, there are probably a few tips and tricks you aren't aware of. So let's launch right into our favorite tips, tricks, and hacks for morning sickness:
- Get plenty of rest. Being tired can make nausea worse. Taking rest or nap breaks throughout the day can diminish nausea.
- Get plenty of fluids, six to eight cups of non-caffeinated fluids daily. Suck on ice chips, sip water or drink ginger ale or other carbonated beverages when you feel nauseated. You can also try juice, barley water, lemonade, electrolyte drinks, soda water, or mineral water. Since dehydration can be a problem with morning sickness, try to stay as hydrated as possible.
- Try drinking water before and after a meal rather than along with it.
- Take prenatal vitamins regularly, but not on an empty stomach. If you find they bother you, try experimenting with taking your prenatals at different times of the day. Also, consider the gummy varieties if pills trigger nausea for you.
- Increase your intake of vitamin B6, which can be helpful in decreasing nausea. Eat foods rich in vitamin B6, such as bananas or chicken. You can even take a vitamin B supplement but check with your GP, obstetrician, or midwife first.
- Eat something bland like toast, a biscuit, saltine crackers, or dry cereal to calm your stomach before getting out of bed.
- Strive to have five or six small meals instead of three large ones. Don't skip eating something for breakfast.
- Avoid fried, fatty, greasy, and spicy food. Eat plain high carbohydrate/low-fat foods such as pasta, rice, crackers, bread, bananas, and green leafy vegetables.
- Eat easily digested bland foods when you feel nauseated, such as rice, bananas, gelatin, ice pops, and chicken broth.
- Eat cold foods if the smell of cooked meals makes you nauseous.
- Try eating protein-rich foods, such as cheese or nuts.
- Don't lie down after eating a meal.
- Get outside and take a walk. Or at least open a window and let some fresh air into the room.
- Try herbal scents like lavender in essential oils to help calm the stomach.
- Deep breathing or relaxation exercises can also be effective with nausea.
- If odors bother you, sniff sliced lemon or suck on peppermint drops.
- After vomiting, rinse your mouth with baking soda and water to keep the acid in your stomach from damaging your teeth. Or at least with water.
- Some women find that acupressure wristbands and forearm bands help to ease nausea by triggering certain pressure points. And don't laugh. Even Web MD recommends them.
- Web MD also recommends acupuncture, which is having a professional use tiny needles at specific energy meridian points on your body to relieve symptoms.
- Herbal ginger supplements can help relieve nausea but check with your doctor or midwife before taking any supplements. Ginger ale, ginger candies, and ginger tea can also help. So can ginger/peppermint tea.
- Over-the-counter antacids can help but check with your healthcare provider to be sure they're safe to take during pregnancy.
- If your morning sickness is horrible, your doctor may prescribe anti-nausea medication, such as antiemetic or vitamin and mineral supplements. If this doesn't work for you, your healthcare provider may recommend other anti-nausea prescription medications that are safe during pregnancy and can relieve severe symptoms. For instance, Diclegis, which combines vitamin B6 and doxylamine, is often very effective.
A Cautionary Word When Morning Sickness Is Something More
We know that morning sickness cannot jeopardize a mom's or her infant's health. However, in the case of severe morning sickness, known as hyperemesis gravidarum, this is not the case.
Hyperemesis gravidarum is severe nausea and vomiting, preventing adequate intake of food and liquids. It occurs when severe vomiting leads to dehydration or causes a woman to lose more than 5% of her body weight. It can also mean that she is getting inadequate nutrition and is actually malnourished.
This serious condition may need to be treated with anti-nausea medications and IV fluids in a hospital. Rarely does mom require a feeding tube. The purpose of the treatment is to stop vomiting and restore body fluids and proper nutrition.
Who Is At Geatest Risk For Hypermesis Gravidarum?
You're at higher risk of hyperemesis gravidarum if it runs in your family, if you're expecting a girl or if you've had it during previous pregnancies. If your doctor suspects this condition, he may order urine and blood tests to confirm.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
You should see your family doctor if:
- You've not been able to keep food or fluids down for 24 hours.
- You've had constant severe vomiting.
- When standing up, you feel extreme fatigue, faintness, or dizziness.
- You have very dark-colored urine and pass very little urine.
- There is blood in your vomit.
- You have flu-like symptoms.
- Your heart is racing.
- You've had dramatic weight loss.
- You are experiencing dehydration due to an inability to keep fluids down.
- You have a high fever.
- You have abdominal pain.
If you suspect you're becoming dehydrated or not getting adequate nutrition due to nausea and vomiting, it's time to see a healthcare provider.
I hope you found this article helpful, and I welcome your thoughts and feedback.