Wednesday, December 8, 2010

hoping for the best, preparing for the worst

Having three good friends who are currently pregnant, pregnancy is once again on my mind… and G-d willing, perhaps I will be experiencing it again for myself someday soon. However, while I am NOT pregnant and still thinking somewhat clearly, I wanted to list some ideas that I or others have had to make pregnancy a little easier for those of us who seem to have our fair share (or more) of morning sickness. Even if, and I would welcome it with open arms, I am not as sick with my next pregnancy (bizrat HaShem), this list and the preparations required could never be in vain because it may prove helpful to someone else out there. So here goes:

Preparing the home:
 When I was pregnant, there were SO many things even at home that I could not stand the smell of, and now living in a small apartment with downstairs neighbors, I anticipate the situation being even worse for a sick pregnant woman. There are things that are out of our control, namely how our husbands smell (which really bothered me) or what the neighbors are cooking for dinner (which fills my tiny bathroom). However, for those that we control, perhaps it will lessen the impact of pregnancy nausea. Here are some ideas that have been rattling around in my head:

Personal care products: try using fragrance-free hand soaps and dish detergent. Many companies make them now (Method), for which I am grateful, and I wish that I had thought of this when I was sick because one of the worst smells I dealt with was the hand soap in my own bathroom. For whatever reason, it was absolutely disgusting, and to this day I REFUSE to buy that scent ever again!! And if you are like me, I didn’t even like the feel of soap on my hands, so I am now looking for fragrance free foaming soap.

I hated having to brush my teeth because it made me more nauseous, but in thinking about it, perhaps the worst part was having to spit out the toothpaste. Now that I have a toddler, I know that fluoride free and “safe to swallow” toothpaste is available (Orajel training toothpaste, J*A*S*O*N brand). So yes, I will be using fruity flavored toddler toothpaste… and swallowing it. :) I have a friend who was able to use orange flavored toothpaste and/or mouthwash, which might be easier to handle than regular mint toothpaste as well.

Body wash (mine and my husband’s) and deodorant did not smell good to me at all either. I’m sure I can find some baby wash/shampoo that is all-natural and fragrance free (or just use the hand soap, who cares!), so my whole family will be using that if it comes down to it!

There are several fragrance-free cleaners available for anything that needs to be cleaned around the house. I use Seventh Generation all-purpose cleaner, and Green Works makes free and clear dish soap and cleaners as well. Free and clear detergent, which I use on little baby clothes anyway, will remove that smell from my clothes, which also bothered me.

The dreaded vitamins: Because my nausea was so severe, I was unable to take prenatal vitamins for many weeks, so my home nurse actually suggested children’s vitamins. If you are able to keep your vitamins down, then continue taking those, but if not, ask your doctor about taking children’s vitamins, which taste much better and come in fruit flavors. I took chewable ones the last time, but I have also discovered some kosher gummies kid’s vitamins that I will try if I need to. They are available on and are made by Natural Kingdom. Because they are for children (and not pregnant women), I was informed that I needed to take 4 or 5 a day, so check with your doctor.

Mask it: Having a little one now to care for, I know that the next pregnancy will be a lot different. I don’t look forward to changing diapers, cleaning up messes, or G-d forbid, cleaning up bodily fluids other than my own! So I am planning to wear a mask, possibly live in it, to hopefully mask some of the toddler (and food) smells that will be prevalent. If you find something that DOES smell good to you, put it on the mask if possible. I don’t recall anything smelling “good” to me, except that one time my nephew brought a hotdog with mustard on it into my hospital room, but that was probably because I was on heavy medication and starving to death…. Nevertheless, I do remember that the hospital was one of my favorite places to be at that time because of its sterility and lack of strong odors. How to replicate that at home, I do NOT know! I foresee my husband and daughter having to eat in another room FAR away from me, but it is what it is, and it’s only temporary.

Preparing yourself and your family:
As far as preparing yourself, it seems that all we can really do is pray and patiently wait and see what pregnancy may bring. Each one is different, and each woman is different. Going into it "blind" with my first pregnancy and not having any idea of how sick I could actually get was tough, and I hope that this information will be helpful to those who are in, or preparing for, their first pregnancy. I certainly feel a little more prepared and confident in making it through another pregnancy, even if it is just as bad this time around, because I have an idea of what to expect.

Communicating (and sharing) this list with your husbands (and older children) is very important as well. Men and children can't really be expected to understand what it feels like to be (constantly) nauseous and pregnant, so all they will know is what we tell them. And believe me, I know, the best time to tell them is NOT when you are in the midst of your suffering. Talking was not high up on my list, because as anyone knows, talking make nausea worse! Perhaps make additional lists of items, products, noises, etc. that make you feel worse and give it to them. I remember very clearly how I felt when my husband cooked those scrambled eggs in the kitchen (with no warning to me) while I was sick on the couch, and then tried to get rid of the smell by using an air purifier that made the house smell like chlorine.... I literally wanted to hurt him, but I'm sure he won't do it again. ;) Our loved ones need to know how severely smells can affect pregnant women who, by the way, have the ability to detect the same scents as a hound dog so that they can "smell danger"! Oftentimes, I wished to lose my ability to smell  when I was pregnant, but G-d made it this way for a reason. It's up to us to communicate how we're feeling and how our family members can help, and hopefully, they will try their best to do what they have to do to help.

For those who are currently pregnant and sick, I wish you all the best and pray you feel better soon. And if even one of these ideas help one pregnant woman feel a tiny bit better (even if it's me!), then this entry has served its purpose. For anyone preparing to become pregnant, it never hurts to be prepared. Just as we used to do in Florida when a hurricane is on its way, we hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Pregnancy can be similar to a hurricane, I suppose, because when you least expect it and think it's a small scale event, it can dramatically change your life in a moment. However, pregnancies are much more fun and lead to a much greater end, a precious little baby who makes it ALL worth it!

Moms and pregnant women, please feel free to comment and add to this list any ideas that have helped you. The more unconventional, the better!