Every teacher knows the struggles of being at school while feeling sick. Kudos to those ladies who have survived through the seemingly endless torment of morning sickness! Here is how I’ve dealt with mine.
My morning sickness hasn’t been terribly horrific, thankfully! I have yet to actually throw up, but instead I get prolonged almost-going-to-throw-up nausea. The kind that lasts all day (‘morning’ sickness my ass), hits in waves, and leaves you wishing you would just throw up because maybe then it would ease.
It’s also the kind where if I get hungry I get really sick. While I’m eating I’m good. Then after eating I feel really sick again. It’s been a not-fun ride working out how much of what to eat to maintain the lowest level of nausea throughout the day, especially at school when you can’t just eat whenever you feel the need.
I’m also blessed (cursed) with the fact that I have to be extremely sick to not be able to eat. And by extremely, I mean physically throwing up that moment. Even with the worst colds and stomach bugs, I keep a relatively normal eating schedule.
Eating when I feel ill usually makes me feel better. My husband often comments on my ability to eat, which far out-passes his own. Perhaps not in quantity, but definitely in frequency. Oh I finished a three-course meal half an hour ago, but look, snacks!
A lot of people advise dry foods to help deal with morning sickness, but my mouth goes completely dry when I feel sick, so the thought of eating dry food made the whole situation infinitely worse. I tried to eat dry crackers once, that was a mistake. Eating wet/juicy/saucy food seems to work much better for me, as long as the flavour isn’t too rich.
Have a large variety of snacks on hand
While I haven’t had any ‘cravings’, I certainly have been able to identify foods that I feel like won’t make me feel more ill.
The problem is, these foods change constantly. What makes me feel better one day, might make me feel worse the next.
In light of that, I learnt to have a range of snacks available. I kept them in my draw or fridge in the staff room, and made sure there was something in the bag I carry around between classes. Make sure you snack throughout the day, any time you can and feel able, in case you can’t later.
The foods you can tolerate will be different to the foods I could tolerate, but here are the three things that worked best for me during the first trimester:
- Pretzels. I couldn’t go as salty as chips, but pretzels provided the right amount of saltiness and substance to tide me over when the nausea hit. Sometimes sweetness wasn’t what I wanted.
- Cold fruit. The key here was that it was as cold as possible. I went for grapes, apples, and berries – juicy and clean-tasting. Mushy banana was off the cards, and other fruit tend to be too time-consuming during short breaks!
- Lollies. Definitely not the best plan, as I am probably setting myself up for gestational diabetes, but lollies have always settled my stomach whenever I feel ill. Our staff room has a big lolly jar, which we keep well stocked. This has been an absolute life saver, and because everyone knows how much I love them, there have been no raised eye-brows at my consumption rate. I would have one or two between classes or during lunch, and it enabled me to get through the next part of the day.
Water, water, water (or whatever fluid you can keep down)
If you don’t have a good water bottle that you take to classes with you, get on that asap. This alone saved me some trips out of the classroom, and no one thinks it’s odd to be carrying around a water bottle and sipping from it all day.
I couldn’t stomach large quantities in one go, so sipping when I felt particularly bad was the way to go for me. Like the fruit, I also preferred it cold, so I popped it in the fridge during lunch breaks and overnight.
Some ladies have said they preferred warmer water, or flavoured, so try some lemon or lime slices in there. Whatever works for you! You can always use the ‘health/wellness kick’ excuse if anyone comments on it.
Tea usually helps make everything better (just ask a British person you know, they’ll confirm this), and the first few weeks after I found out I was pregnant this certainly seemed to be the case! Tea throughout the day was fantastic (though watch the amount of caffeine you consume). But then one day, inexplicably, the mere thought of a cup of tea turned my stomach. After about week 10 I seemed to be able to drink it again, but not in the quantities I could before. I’m not a huge fan of herbal teas, but I know a lot of ladies love them, especially to help with morning sickness.
Some mornings in particular I couldn’t stomach the thought of water, and my old faithful tea was off the cards, but chocolate milk came to the rescue. I even did a couple of trips to the school canteen to buy a little bottle when I was feeling rough. I tried not to let this one last too long though, knowing I would be eating lollies during the day as well, so as soon as I felt like I could I swapped to plain milk. This became my breakfast drink, but I couldn’t quite think of a reasonable excuse to be drinking it at school (‘Coffee or tea Emily?’ ‘No thanks, but a glass of milk would be great!’ – doesn’t seem like a reasonable exchange).
Lunch was the tricky one – keep options on hand and eat what you feel like
I’m following the ‘no deli-meat’ advice, which makes lunches a bit hard. Knowing I can’t eat ham makes it the one thing I do want to eat. A simple ham and cheese sandwich sounds amazing!
Day to day the foods I felt I could eat changed dramatically. Because of this, I tried to keep a range of lunch food available.
In my draw I keep a could of cans of different soups, some noodle cups, and some crackers. Cheese toasties worked well for a little while, alternated with the soups and noodles.
One day I even just took a small block of cheese and a punnet of cherry tomatoes to eat with my crackers. This lasted me two days, and was amazing. I will probably do this again soon!
Going into winter, and the fact that I hate salad, meant salads were off the table. Warm food was much more appetising, so some nights I tried to make sure there were left-overs for lunch the next day. If you do this, just make sure you heat it up very well and don’t consume past 24-hours, to reduce the risk of bacteria (listeria mostly) making you ill.
I also found having a smaller portion for lunch along with some fruit to be the best option for me. Too much of any one food made me feel even more sick afterwards. Variety definitely helped!
Listen to your body
Go with what you feel like will help, at the point in time, regardless of what’s helped before. What works one day might not work the next, so make sure you’re listening to your body and eat the foods that seem appealing and like you can keep them down.
If you’re concerned about what you can/can’t or will/won’t be able to eat, make sure you talk to your doctor. During the first trimester you don’t actually need to eat any more food than you normally do (‘eating for two’ is a cute myth). Your calorie intake doesn’t need to increase at all during the first trimester, so don’t stress if you can’t keep much down or feel like you’re eating less than you used to. If you’re losing weight then talk to your doctor, and make sure you take some multi-vitamins if you are down on anything in your blood test, but other than that truly don’t stress.
Hopefully the morning sickness passes relatively quickly. I was at week 12 at the time of writing this, and it actually got worse for me over the last week. Now I’m at week 16 and it seems to have finally passed. Now to get rid of that pesky tiredness…
About the Author:
Emily is a secondary science and math teacher in Australia. She enjoys blogging about her experiences, facilitating the ‘light bulb’ moment in her students, and drinking tea and wine. Emily is currently on maternity leave with her first child. You can read more teaching articles from Emily here, or about her life as a new mum over at Actual Mums.