Morning Sickness: What to Pack for the Journey

by Elizabeth Kaledin

Though it may not seem imaginable, surviving morning sickness can be done. In some ways, just like labor and delivery, it is nothing more than a physical test requiring training, preparation, and endurance. In fact, it may help you to think of it that way, especially because every marathon has a finish line.

This is not to say that training and preparing for the marathon aren't challenging. Morning sickness demands a plan -- a strategy -- for outsmarting your body and letting you feel in better control. To do that, you will need some basic tools, a Morning-Sickness Survival Kit to be carried with you at all times. I am going to offer you a few ideas and suggestions, but you should personalize your own survival kit once you discover what your needs are.

To start with, you will need a bigger bag. That may not be possible since most women I know already hoist around luggage poorly disguised as a purse. But use this as an opportunity to get yourself a special morning-sickness tote or a nice backpack, something roomy enough to accommodate your needs. If you are feeling lousy, a little shopping excursion might cheer you up, anyway. You may never want to see this bag again once the need for it goes away, but I am sure it will hang stoically in your closet for years, a veteran of the morning-sickness wars.

Morning sickness demands a plan -- a strategy -- for
outsmarting your body and letting you feel in better control.

The first thing you might want to start collecting is some of those air-sickness bags from airplanes. I know it sounds silly, but having a couple of them in your survival kit could save you some embarrassment, and if nothing else, provide you with a security blanket. Given my history of motion sickness, I always check my seat pocket whenever I get on a plane just to make sure I have one. Somehow, it always makes me feel a little more relaxed to see it. So the next time you fly, just gather a couple, or ask the flight attendant for extras. You never know -- and if you're not planning to fly during your pregnancy, maybe a friend who is could pick up several for you.

You need to have food with you at all times, and that is where you should begin. Never leave home without stowing something in your kit to snack on and drink. I recommend a bottle of water, a can of Coke or ginger ale, or both. Above all, you want to avoid getting dehydrated if you are vomiting, but you also might want to have something to sip that could stave off an episode of vomiting if you are on the brink. Something sugary and carbonated can often do the trick. If juice is your tonic, pack that along instead.

You'll also need a couple of different snacks to appeal to your fickle tastes. If you don't want to stuff your new purse like a grocery bad, I recommend buying plastic Ziploc (you can even get small, snack-sized ones) and filling them with a variety of comfort foods. Remember, think salty, sweet, crunchy, soft, to satisfy any craving. The following are portable, fairly nutritious, and could save you in a tight spot.

  • Pretzels
  • Whole-wheat crackers with or without peanut butter*. (I loved the pre-packaged peanut butter or cheese sandwich crackers that come six to a pack. They are not as healthy as homemade because they are processed, but remember, check the guilt and go for convenience.)
  • Carrot and celery sticks (Those baby carrots are easy to prepare.)
  • Apple slices
  • An orange
  • Rice cakes
  • Graham crackers
  • Nuts: either roasted almonds or peanuts
  • Your favorite cereal
  • Pack along a spoon and a small yogurt (if you're not going to be gone long and it won't get too warm)

There will of course be those times when you can't prevent vomiting no matter what's in your purse. Whether at the office or on the street, you will need some equipment to get you through it. Let's face it, vomiting leaves an awful taste in the mouth. Having water along will give you something to rinse your mouth with, but you might also want to carry a toothbrush and a travel toothpaste or mouthwash. If brushing your teeth makes you nauseous, try mints, hard candies, or gum.

Anything you can find to clear the taste out of your mouth and make you feel fresher will be helpful. And speaking of fresher, I also recommend that you carry along some wet wipes such as baby wipes or Handi Wipes. They often come in a little individually wrapped packets and smell clean and refreshing; cleaning your hands and face and rubbing one over the back of your neck will help restore you to humanity. If you can't stand any scents or fragrances at all, many wet wipes come unscented as well.

And don't forget to pack some of those travel packs of tissue. They are handy for a million reasons, not the least of which will be wiping the occasional tear away when you feel you can't take it anymore!

Finally, let me throw in one last self-serving suggestion to help you through these days. Throw in a copy of my book, The Morning Sickness Companion so you can read the chapter, "A Little Advice from the Experts," over and over again during moments of weakness. My hope is that the quotes and thoughts from fellow sufferers will be a big help, providing you with a dose of stamina, insight, humor, and patience with yourself: the most important things to have in your survival kit.

*Peanuts are one of the most severe allergens known. This allergy kills more people a year than bee stings. If there is a history of peanut allergies in either your family or your partner's family, it is wise to avoid peanut during pregnancy, never give young children under the age of three peanuts, and avoid all arachis oil based products, such as some skin creams used for dry nipples when breast feeding.

Elizabeth Kaledin, author of The Morning Sickness Companion, is the medical correspondent for CBS Evening News with Dan Rather (watched by 7 million people every night). Prior to covering medical news, she was a general assignment reporter in CBS's Northeast bureau starting in 1996. She lives in New York City with her husband and children.

Excerpted from The Morning Sickness Companion. All content copyrighted © Elizabeth Kaledin. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC

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