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Having hyperemesis gravidarum is about so much more than just morning sickness

One of the first questions you'll be asked when you tell someone that you are pregnant is, "How are you feeling?" People are usually inquiring about nausea and vomiting, the dynamic duo that makes up the most infamous of the pregnancy symptoms—70% of women experience at least some degree of nausea and vomiting, and it can be quite unpleasant. Nausea tends to start around week five of pregnancy, peaks in severity during week nine, and improves between week 12 and 14.

That is, unless you have hyperemesis gravidarum, or HG.

What is hyperemesis gravidarum—and why do people get it?

Defined as severe nausea and vomiting in pregnancy that causes weight loss, dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, HG is an entirely different beast than normal morning sickness. It is fairly rare, affecting only 1% of pregnant women.

We don't fully know why some people get such severe nausea during pregnancy, though a recent study suggests that there is a genetic component to it—indeed there is a strong hereditary aspect to HG. If your mother or a sister had it, you are at a much higher risk of having it as well. And if you've had it in a previous pregnancy, there is a good chance you will have it again.

Women with HG tend top experience nausea into their second trimester, and some will even have it their entire pregnancy.

Many scientists believe that nausea and vomiting help to protect you and your growing baby. During the first trimester, when nausea is usually at its worst, the baby is starting the delicate process of developing all their major organs. Nausea greatly reduces the variety of food a woman is able to eat, meaning that there is less risk of harmful substances being injected and negatively impacting that organ development.

Anthropologist Kari Moca writes that morning sickness may exist to help the embryo develop. When you are nauseous and vomiting (and therefore eating less), your body burns fat stores. This generates more ketones in your body, which are awesome brain-developing-fuel for your baby.

What can you do about it?

Most women find that they have to try different techniques to figure out what their nausea-reducing recipe is. But, one thing first: HG is a big deal. When you are going through it, it can be truly miserable. It is okay to complain about how you feel—it doesn't make you ungrateful to be pregnant.

It's also okay to ask for help, both in your daily life and from your provider. It is very possible that you will require medical attention, in the form of medications or even hospitalization. If you go 24 hours without being able to keep food or water down, or if you feel lightheaded or just really ill, call your provider or head to an emergency room.

Here are some ideas to try.

  • Acupressure: Acupressure, therapy that involves applying pressure to certain points in the body, may be effective in decreasing nausea.
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture has not had much evidence to support that it works for morning sickness, however, many women swear by it, so it may be worth considering.
  • Eat often: Many times women find that they get nauseous just as they are also getting hungry. To avoid this, keep crackers (or something else that you enjoy that is easy to eat) with you at all times. Your bag, your bathroom… everywhere. Try to graze on the snacks all day (and in the middle of the night when you get up to pee) to keep that yucky tummy at bay.
  • Ginger: Ginger comes in many forms and can help with nausea. You can add ginger to your food, or find capsules, candy, or (real) ginger ale.
  • Mint: Peppermint candies and mint tea can be excellent for nausea. Smelling mint can also be lovely—you can get a few mint leaves and grind them up to release the smell, smell a bag of mint tea, or add a few drops of mint essential oils to a diffuser if you have one.
  • Prescription medications: There are a number of prescription medications available to help so be sure to talk with your provider about it if you are interested.
  • Tart food: You may find that tart food (like a lemon) makes you feel better (I used to suck on lemon slices). Just be careful—citrus fruits are not great for the enamel of your teeth.
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): This vitamin has helped women lessen their nausea. It can be purchased over the counter, but it's best to talk with your provider about it first since it is already in your prenatal vitamin (they can also write you a prescription for it). B6 can be found in milk, sunflower seeds, salmon, eggs, sweet potato, bananas, beans, and many kinds of cereals.
  • Make a kit: Include bags to throw up in, gum or mints, snacks, a fresh shirt (and maybe pants too), and wipes for when you leave the house.

It has an emotional toll as well

There is a huge psychological component to HG. It can be emotionally draining to feel that rotten for that long. It can also be isolating, as it is difficult to leave the house and do all the things you normally love to do. Lastly, you may be experiencing some degree of unhelpful comments from people who don't really understand the extent to which you are suffering:

"Yeah, I threw up a few times when I was pregnant, too."

"Well, at least you know it's a baby that's causing it and not an illness."

"It's in your head. Just try to distract yourself."

Thanks, guys.

The truth is that people just don't get it. Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety wrote: "The happy news that I was pregnant was quickly overwhelmed by morning sickness so severe that I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help. When government helicopters flew over my apartment in Washington, D.C., I found myself wishing they would crash into my house and put me out of my misery. Hyperemesis Gravidarum is that bad."

There is light, though, mama. This will get better. You will be able to e-a-t again, and life will return to normal. Until then, do not be afraid to advocate for yourself. Get the medical treatment you need, and take care of your mental health as well. If you feel depressed or like hurting yourself, call a therapist or 911 right away.

Hang in there. You've got this.

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When you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

The shape appeals to kids and the organic and gluten-free labels appeal to parents in the freezer aisle, but if you've got a bag of Perdue's Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets, don't cook them.

The company is recalling 49,632 bags of the frozen, fully cooked Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets because they might be contaminated with wood.

According to the USDA, Perdue received three complaints about wood In the nuggets, but no one has been hurt.

The nuggets were manufactured on October 25, 2018 with a "Best By" date of October 25, 2019. The UPC code is 72745-80656. (The USDA provides an example of the packaging here so you'll know where to look for the code).


In a statement on the Perdue website the company's Vice President for Quality Assurance, Jeff Shaw, explains that "After a thorough investigation, we strongly believe this to be an isolated incident, as only a minimal amount of these packages has the potential to contain pieces of wood."

If you have these nuggets in your freezer you can call Perdue 877-727-3447 to ask for a refund.

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Mealtime can be one of the most stressful times for parents and kids, especially when there's a picky eater in the house. Your little might get anxious about their food touching, requesting a completely new meal. Or, they might avoid the foods altogether, leaving you concerned about their nutrition. While helping your child develop healthy eating habits is the ultimate goal, you can also incorporate products that will make mealtime more fun for everyone involved.

Here are our favorite products that help picky eaters be, well, less picky (or at least enjoy mealtime enough to not worry about certain foods!).

1. Food cubby

These silicone separates suction to the plate to keep separate foods from touching, or to keep runny foods from spreading. Say goodbye to tantrums from peas and corn touching, mama.

Food Cubby Plate Divider, Amazon, $14.99

BUY

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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[Trigger warning: This essay describes a woman's emotional journey with postpartum anxiety.]

I see you, mama.

I know you don't want to feel this way. I know you're terrified of everything in the world right now. I know you want to wrap your baby in a bubble and keep them safely in your arms forever. I know you can't "sleep when the baby sleeps" because you are too nervous to drift off in case they stop breathing. I know you don't want to let anyone near your little one because they could be carrying an illness. I know you've cried in the bathroom and begged for the voice to stop. And I know you love your child more than anything in the world.

I know because I was you.

I was in the 10% of estimated women who are affected by Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) but had no idea what I was experiencing. I worried about EVERY little thing but just brushed the fears aside, thinking this was just normal of first-time motherhood. But it was something more.

I lived in constant fear that my son was either going to get hurt or he was going to die.

It started the first week of being home from the hospital. I was so scared of SIDS that I actually googled "How much sleep do I need in order to survive?" I would only get two to three hours, not because my child was keeping me up, but because I was scared he would stop breathing and I wouldn't be awake to save him.

I would religiously wash all of his clothes with baby detergent and if I thought I mistakenly used regular detergent, I would rewash everything. I was afraid he would get a skin rash if I didn't. If my husband had the slightest hint of a cold, I would banish him to the guest room and handle all of the baby duties on my own until he was fully recovered.

I would wash and rewash bottles because I was afraid they weren't clean enough and convinced myself if I didn't then he would catch a rare illness. When we supplemented with formula, I wasted multiple cans because I was so scared I didn't measure it correctly, so I would dump it and start over.

I didn't want to be this way. I didn't want to let PPA be the thief of my joy, but anxiety doesn't care who you are or what you've been through. I knew my previous miscarriages attributed to my PTSD, which manifested into anxiety.

I knew I needed help.

I cried so many nights as my husband and baby boy slept because I just wanted to feel "normal." I didn't want to overanalyze every bump or rash or cough, I wanted to enjoy being a first time mom, but I felt like I was drowning.

On top of the anxiety was guilt. I had wanted this baby so badly—I wanted to feel joy, happiness, and gratitude, and yet I felt overwhelmed, sad, and miserable. What was happening?

I would tell myself not to worry, I'd try to convince myself a regular cold was just a cold. But then a voice would come into my head and make me second guess myself. What if it was a serious infection and became fatal if I ignored it? So I rushed my baby boy to the doctor every time I thought something was wrong.

I went to the pediatrician over 20 times in my son's first year of life. One time I went because I thought he had a cancerous mole, which turned out to be a piece of lint stuck to his hair. I felt like I was losing control of myself.

Eventually, when my son was 3 months old, I went to a therapist for help. I needed someone to hear me and give me the tools to overcome this. I am not without daily anxiety, I still have many fears and I have to bring myself back to reality, but I work on it every day. I cope and I make an effort to continue with my therapist so I can beat this.

Even though this topic is hard to write about, I have no shame in my story. Carrying a child is hard, giving birth is harder, and jumping onto the roller coaster of motherhood is one hormonal, wild ride.

Mamas, we are allowed to not be okay and we have every right to make that known. I wasn't okay and it took every ounce of strength I had to get myself out of the darkness.

If I could tell you anything about struggling with this, it is this: PPA is real, it is not normal, and getting help is okay. Do not feel ashamed, do not feel embarrassed, and don't for one second think you owe anyone an explanation.

Do not let a single person make you feel like you are less of a mother. You are a magnificent human being, a loving mama bear, and you will get through this.

I see you, and I'm holding space for you.

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Ready to bring a baby on board? Feelings of excitement can often be met with those of financial concern as you prep for this milestone. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as of 2015, the cost of raising a child is $233,610—a number that can make anyone's jaw drop to the floor.

But before you start to worry, here are ways you can become more financially savvy before the baby is born:

1. Budget for healthcare costs

The cost of delivering a baby can vary by state, but suffice it to say it can be thousands of dollars. Castlight Health found that the lowest average cost of delivery was $6,075 in Kansas City, MO and the highest average cost $15,420 in Sacramento, CA. Costs are even higher for a Cesarean delivery.

The first thing you want to do is check your insurance and see what they will cover so what you will be responsible for. Then create a separate savings account so that you can cover any costs that you're on the hook for. You can set up automatic savings after each payday up until the baby is born to help assist with any healthcare costs associated with delivery.

2. Cut your expenses

Before the baby arrives, do a spending audit and see where you can slash some expenses. Free up any leftover money to help cover the increased costs that will come, such as food, clothes, and formula.

If you're struggling with how to do that, take a look at all of your expenses and write next to each either"want" or "need." Look at your "want" list and see which expenses are ones you can either eliminate or cut back on. If it doesn't bring you joy or add value, ditch it! You might even find subscriptions that you didn't know you had.

3. Go for second-hand goods

Of course, there are some things you definitely want to buy new for baby, but things like clothes and toys you can get second hand and save a lot of money. Your baby will grow so fast and buying new clothes every few months can add up. If your family members or friends have old baby clothes or toys they're willing to part with, it will save money and you can pay it forward down the line.

4. Look for sales or coupons

Clothes and toys are items that you can buy second hand, but products, like a car seat and crib are best new. You want to be up-to-date with safety and know what you're getting. Before going shopping, search for sales or coupons before you head out. A little research online can go a long way and save you hundreds.

5. Have a garage sale

If you need to make room for baby, it's time to get rid of items that you no longer use or need. Take all of the stuff you are planning to get rid of and have a garage sale to make extra money. You can also try selling online on Craigslist, Poshmark and OfferUp too.

Take the money you earn from selling your stuff and put it in your savings account earmarked for your baby.

6. Get a 529 plan

It's never too early to save for your baby's college. You can open a state-sponsored 529 plan which is a tax-advantaged savings account for education-related costs. Instead of asking for gifts or toys from family and friends, you can request money to go toward a 529 plan. It will be an impactful gift that will help your child in the future and help lessen the financial burden on you.

7. Prep now instead of later

Your whole world will change when your baby arrives, so in order to save money, time and stress, create a plan now. Is there a family or friend close by who can babysit if you need some rest or have to run an errand? Ask them now if they can help out.

Start preparing meals in bulk that can be in the freezer and easily made so you don't have to think about food. Put your bills on autopay so that you don't miss any payments and get hit with late fees. Know how long you can get maternity or paternity leave and understand how that will affect your income and budget. Getting all of this ready ahead of time can help you in the long run.

8. Purchase life insurance

While thinking about why you need life insurance can be a bit stressful, preparation is essential, especially when you're adding another member to your family. Life insurance will provide financial support if you had a loss of income due to something happening to either you or your partner.

9. Understand any tax benefits

The birth of your baby will affect your taxes, which can actually end up putting more money back into your pocket. Do some research online and see how a dependent will change your taxes in your state, such as new exemptions available. Or, find a trusted accountant or tax specialist in your area who can walk you through your options.

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