How to cope with morning sickness when juggling an energetic toddler
I am genuinely envious of those mum's who experience no sickness or queasiness during their pregnancy. When I was pregnant with our first Oliver, I think in hindsight I had Hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness), as I could not keep water or food down until week 17. I remember just opening an eye whilst laying in dark room and I was instantly sick. I couldn't get in a car, in fact I couldn't leave my bed.
This second pregnancy I have been luckier, I have only felt dizzy, queasy and exhausted, but to be honest I found this time harder with a crazy, stubborn, energetic two year old in tow.
I sit here now in my second trimester feeling a tad better and reflecting on how exactly I have got through the last 3 months. I'm totally and utterly drained this time, not something I had with my first pregnancy even though I am vomiting all day every day. Today I am sharing with you my 5 simple steps to coping with morning sickness whilst attempting to run around after a crazy toddler.
It seems appropriate as a Sleep Consultant to start with this one. Before falling pregnant this time, I used to be able to go to bed at 10.30/11 and get up between 5-5.30am. I quickly realised that my pre pregnancy routine no long fits the newly pregnant me. In fact whenever I had a later night it made me feel even more sick the following day. Once I cottoned on that less sleep made me feel more sick, I soon made getting better sleep my top priority. I started going to bed between 9-9.30pm and getting up at 6-6.30am.
Of course there were times when the toddler was up through the night unwell which couldn't be helped, but when in your control, go to bed earlier and if you are lucky enough to be able to take a nap, do it!
Thank goodness for all the energy and hardwork we have put into helping Oliver to sleep, his 2 hour afternoon naps helped massively to get through the last 3 months. Is your child struggling with naps? Don't worry, drop me a line here to see if I can help.
This sounds counterproductive when you are feeling sick, I mean the last thing you want to do is eat. However eating regular small amounts of protein and slow release carbohydrate every 20 minutes reduces your nausea by stablilising your blood sugar. As soon as your stomach is empty this is when you start to feel sick. A great morning sickness hack is to eat a protein bar as soon as you open your eyes first thing in the morning. I got to the stage where I was eating 3 course breakfasts to alleviate the nausea, but to be honest I didn't care because it worked.
Activities for your toddler
Organising activities for your toddler at the kitchen table or high chair helped enormously. You can sit with your child with a bucket next to the table or close to the kitchen sink in case you need it (glamorous). I highly recommend the book 100 Screen Free Activities which gives you ideas and tasks to do with your little one. Some of them don't involve much planning or preparation. Fresh air helped me, but after an incident on a walk with Oliver where I felt like I was going to faint, I felt safer just in the garden with him.
Equally don't feel bad if your toddler watches more T.V than usual. As parents, we are strict with Oliver's TV exposure, he doesn't watch it everyday and normally a maximum of 15-20 minutes a day and none after 5pm. However, sometimes you have got to do whatever to get through the day. When I was feeling really unwell, I would lay down for 30 minutes (not after 5pm) on the sofa with him watching Postman Pat so I could recuperate.
If your toddler has the opportunity to go to childcare whether this be with family or paid childcare I highly recommend it. We are so lucky to have the help we do from our family, as well as Oliver attending Nursery for 1 day a week. If you have willing friends or family members who would love to babysit, then use them. Or alternatively you may have an affordable local playgroup in your area; ours charges £12 for half a day, what's that 3 coffees a week or if you don't drink coffee like me, have a think of a way you can free up a small amount of money to help you through these tough months. Even if it means raiding the piggy bank!
It is so easy to feel mum guilt for "shipping" your toddler off to someone else, trust me this has crossed my mind a lot in the last 3 months. However, rationally I knew I wasn't myself firing on all four cylinders. I know Oliver would be having a better time with family or at Nursery. I'm also a firm believer that this is going to help him a very tiny bit with the transition of welcoming (or not) his new baby brother or sister.
Listen to your body
Not everyone agrees with me on this point but it is something I am hugely passionate about. My biggest tip is to listen to what your body needs and not push through when you are feeling awful. I have learnt this from recovering from M.E. all those years ago. It doesn't come naturally to me now as I love running around at a million miles an hour now that I have recovered.
I have learnt to read the signs, I have discovered that when you push through, you are only operating at 50% or below, which is why in the last few month's business has come second and health has had to come first. Ask yourself, what are the consequences of operating below 50%? On your mind, your body, your health, your parenting, your relationships and your work? What can you say no to so that you can free up time and energy for self care during this tough time?
That's not to say it was easy, I have had anxiety that I am getting behind and standing still. However, I am so glad I did listen to my body and took time out to become a TV addict (so not me) because I now feel so much stronger, ready and able to help you overcome your sleep challenges.
So there are a few of my top tips for coping with morning sickness and an energetic toddler. If you are balancing a sleep thief and morning sickness, or thinking of trying for another baby alongside your sleep thief, then book in your Sleep Success Take Action package so you can get yourself some more sleep (and feel less sick) as soon as possible.