by Rebekah Madren
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“Being crazy isn’t enough.” – Dr. Seuss
As I plan for a 3rd pregnancy, this quote resonates with me. You see, I have two active children. I just turned 40. And I had hyperemesis gravidarum with my pregnancies.
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a rare pregnancy disease that causes severe nausea, vomiting, dehydration, weight loss, and host of awful consequences. It’s a sad disease with which many doctors are not familiar, and no cure has been found.
It seems crazy to plan for another child. But I’m more than crazy; I’m hopeful. After two HG pregnancies and amazing resources like Steph Greunke and the Whole Mamas team, I’m hopeful I can improve the whole HG experience. And mostly, I’m hopeful we can add that missing link to our family, because our family does not feel complete yet.
Today I’m going to share my plan to support a third HG pregnancy. To the mamas who cannot conceive again or have lost a baby because of their chance of severe, life-threatening HG: I am in awe of what you have endured, and can’t imagine the grief you experience. I do not take it lightly that I have the privileges and resources to even consider a 3rd pregnancy.
I’m meal prepping and planning for our household, since I won’t be able to cook for a while.
My Food To-Do List:
- Prep frozen nutrient-dense meals and snacks for the family
- Stock freezer with bone broth and healthy soups for my mid-second and third trimester, when I can hopefully consume them
- Stock freezer with foods I MIGHT be able to eat the first 20ish weeks, like gluten free crepes, grain free scones and crackers, fruit purees, smoothie items
- Stock teas like dandelion, chicory root and matcha
- Stock special ingredients and foods that are harder to find locally
- Write meal plans for others to follow
- Follow a whole foods-based meal plans for myself, when I can tolerate it
Preconception: I’m following what the Whole Mamas recommends for preconception health. I know I have an MTHFR mutation, so I always look for folate instead of folic acid in my supplements.
First and second trimester: My supplements will depend on what I can handle. Swallowing pills probably won’t be an option. I’ve found liquid forms of B6 and D3K2. I plan to add the Prenatal Shake from Seeking Health as soon as I am able. I will use a prenatal gummy vitamin as needed, if tolerated.
Third trimester: I hope to be able to swallow pills and maintain a solid prenatal supplement routine.
Postpartum: I will work with a practitioner to replenish my depleted nutrient stores as needed.
Based on my previous pregnancies and some new research, I’ve made a plan to ease my symptoms as much as I can. Early intervention is key. If I can have a healthier first trimester, that should lead to a better second and third. While planning for my Hyperemesis Gravidarum pregnancy, here are a few things I will try:
- Bedrest: Laying almost still seems to help control vomiting. I’ve made plans to clear my schedule and get help at home for my first trimester, at least.
- Controlling smells: This means clearing out our bedroom/bathroom of strong scents from shampoo, soap, candles, etc. I plan to sleep alone, as the movement or smell from another person can trigger vomiting.
- Essential oil therapy: I have had zero success with EO’s curbing nausea. However, diffusing a mild one can help cover the scent of food wafting up from the kitchen, which can trigger vomiting.
- IV hydration therapy: Working with my practitioner, I’m asking for IV fluids every 2 weeks during my sickest time, probably 6-16 weeks. Staying ahead of major dehydration keeps me out of the vicious cycle of vomiting until I’m dehydrated, and then not being able to hydrate because of vomiting.
- CBD oil: I’ve read HG moms are having success reducing nausea with CBD oil. Please do your own research and discuss with your provider.
- Pharmaceutical options as needed.
- Physical Therapy: After months of bedrest, muscles become weak. Hopefully, I will be strong enough to get moving and gain some strength back towards the end of my pregnancy.
Family and Work Support
We are busy mamas, aren’t we? I admit, I feel nervous about the chaos that could happen with me not at the helm of our family’s ship. So, I’m circling the wagons as best I can to fill in the inevitable cracks.
Care for me: We are pulling in favors from family and friends to help manage my health and our home. My mom will be with us full-time for a while. Yes, she is THE BEST.
Saving for additional childcare & hiring a part-time nanny: We are privileged that we can move our resources to this expense. It means decreasing purchases and savings for a season, but it’s essential.
Meal trains: Yes, I am going to ask my friends to bring us meals when we need it.
Play date trains: Yes, I am also asking friends to sign up to come pick up my kids for outings.
Work support: I am moving my work projects to all online work for at least a year, and hoping to space them out to avoid the most challenging times (early pregnancy and the fourth trimester).
Clearing our calendar: I am planner. So I am planning NOT to plan.
Deep-cleaning my house: Marie Kondo is in full force to get organized before the chaos hits.
Fitting in Fun: We are packing in a few final adventures before we plan to “go under” for a while.
Emotional Support for Mama
A long-term illness like HG has surprising emotional affects. Being stuck in your bed for months is downright depressing. Having other people do your job and feed you is guilt-inducing. So, I want to mitigate the loneliness, guilt and even despair.
- Prepping my friends to help me: I’m actively recruiting friends to “not forget” about me. I have no shame at my age; I will text you and tell you to come see me.
- Prepping friends to help my husband: I’ll be bugging his friends to check in with him as well.
- Photo-journaling: I will document my HG experience with my phone as an outlet for how I’m feeling. Yep—it’s gonna be a bestseller some day!
- Listing movies: I am moving a TV to my room to catch up on missed movies while trying not to upchuck.
- Well-placed encouraging words: I’m placing my favorite quotes, scriptures and pictures in my bedroom to help focus my thoughts.
- Dreaming of baby: I hope to dream some about how HG will have been worth it after baby #3 joins our family!
Postpartum help will look similar to pregnancy. Though my HG symptoms should clear up, I’ll be healing from the disease along with caring for a newborn. This means more whole foods, supplements, paying for help, and asking for help. After the newborn storm has calmed, I’ll investigate what kind of physical or emotional therapy I need. I talked about some of the options I discovered after my second pregnancy in my previous article. Lastly, I’ll give myself and our family lots of grace to not “bounce back” to normal after an HG pregnancy.
Perhaps I sound like a control freak. Okay, maybe I am. I’m trying to remember that even though I prepare until I’m blue in the face, nothing could go as planned. My wise midwife told me that we never know how a birth can go. We can never know how a pregnancy can go, either, but we can hope for the best and prepare for the worst, while trusting our sometimes crazy mama journey.
Rebekah is a military wife, mama, teacher, and writer living in Southern Maryland.