Eating advice

When you are at your worst and simply can't eat, then being told 'just try to eat/drink something' is very frustrating and adds to the feeling of being completely misunderstood.


Even when you can eat - when you've got some effective antiemetics or later in the illness when you're over the worst - you'll recognise that feeling of being hungry but just not being able to face anything you normally eat. This is where a list of suggestions is useful because it's really trial and error to find something that you can tolerate. Many women talk about their 'safe' foods, things that they can reliably eat without throwing it back up. Once you find a safe food, it's not unusual to eat almost nothing but this for weeks or even months.


To complicate things further, through pregnancy, we are bombarded with advice about what and what not to eat. Women with HG often find that what they can keep down is very limited and not at all healthy. Vegetables and some fruits causes immediate vomiting in the peak stages, making it even more difficult to follow a healthy diet. 


For some reason, women with hyperemesis ofen find sweet and salty foods ie, sweet drinks like coke, and crisps, are more likely to stay down. Their peculiar diet can lead to disapproving comments and the incorrect assumption that they don't care about having a healthy diet. 


You may find that all of a sudden you can't stomach your safe food any more. This is fairly typical for HG and means that you have to find something else to replace it with. This can be difficult, especially if you are at the stage when even thinking about food makes you feel sick. It's probably a good idea to have a large variety of foods you think you might manage in the house at any one time so that if you go off one, there are others you can try. Your partner may have to resign themselves to being sent to the shops at all hours to get you something that you may not even be able to manage by the time they get home. I think every HG sufferer's carer has been there at some point.


The important thing to remember at this time is that it doesn't matter what you eat or drink, the crucial thing is that you eat or drink something. Don't forego something because you are worried that it's bad for you. In a normal diet, too much salt and sugar is bad for you, but when you consume nothing else, this may be your only source of calories, fluid and salt for the day. Instead of berating yourself for your unhealthy diet, congratulate yourself that you have kept something down.


When solids do become bearable, suggestions of things to try are shown in Food suggestions



If you are finding it difficult to drink water and/or keep it down, then you are not alone, it's very typical. You may have to become quite creative about how to take fluids. Sipping through a straw is a popular strategy as is only drinking things either ice cold or very hot or sucking ice cubes. Sipping through a straw from a carton so that you can't see the fluid is also a strategy.


Suggested drinks are shown in Drink suggestions



When the illness is at its worst during the early hormonal surges then it is difficult to retain any liquids and you may need to be hospitalised for rehydration by IV (intravenous) fluids. If you are unable to keep down fluids, don't delay in asking for treatment. Speak to your GP, midwife or go to A&E.



A tip suggested for getting rid of the horrible metallic taste in your mouth - or indeed any other horrible taste - is to eat skittles (one at a time incase they make you throw up).


If you are able to eat food with a high water content such as melon, cucumber, apples and other fruits, it is a good way of taking some fluids on board without having to drink water. 


If you are able to take vitamin tablets or syrups, then do so but most women find that large multivitamin tablets make the nausea worse. Vitamins which include iron have been shown to make nausea worse so they're best avoided. You can get folic acid tablets if you're worried about not taking it with your pregnancy vitamin. You may be able to get vitamins that dissolve under your tongue which you may be able to tolerate. If and when you begin to feel better, you can start to re-introduce more healthy food. 


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