Holidays are typically a time for joy, celebration, and togetherness. However, for those suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) during pregnancy, the festive season can be particularly challenging. HG is characterized by severe nausea and vomiting, which can make it difficult to partake in holiday activities, especially with all of the food. Let’s explore some tips and strategies to help you cope with HG during the holidays, so hopefully you can still find a little joy.
1. Communication is Key: One of the first steps in coping with HG during the holidays is communicating your needs with your loved ones. Inform family and friends about your condition and let them know your limitations. You can send family or friends the Family & Friends link from the HER Foundation website ahead of time so they understand what is going on and how they can be supportive. This can make a significant difference.
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2. Plan Ahead: While you may have less energy or mobility than you did before, you can still partake in some holiday festivities. Plan any activities ahead of time, but be flexible. HG can be unpredictable, so think about alternative options and be ready to make changes if necessary. Ask someone else to host this year if it’s normally you hosting. Discuss who can help you getaway if things start going sideways and you need to go home or have people leave. Remember to allow rest days before and after outings or events.
3. Stay Hydrated: Dehydration is a common concern for HG sufferers, so it’s crucial to stay hydrated. Try sipping frequently on tolerable liquids or solid forms of tolerable liquids. Make sure to schedule IV hydrations before becoming too dehydrated, especially if you are attending a holiday event. Avoid activities if you are dehydrated as you will likely get worse.
4. Eat What You Can: The idea of a traditional holiday feast may not be realistic if you have HG. Focus on eating your safe foods and bring safe foods to an event. The host may be able to set aside some tolerable options for you. Consult with a nutritionist for dietary recommendations tailored to your needs.
5. Seek Medical Advice: Don’t hesitate to consult your healthcare provider about HG management. They can provide guidance on safe medications to alleviate nausea and vomiting, which can be a game-changer in managing your symptoms. If you need extra support, ask about home care over the holidays. If you are receiving home care or going in for IV/port medication, double-check your clinic’s holiday schedule, as many places change hours. HG patients thrive on a consistent medicine regime, so be careful not to miss a dose, and ask your provider if increasing doses during events would be helpful.
6. Aromatherapy and Acupressure/Acupuncture: Consider experimenting with gentle and natural remedies like aromatherapy and acupressure as tolerated. Some scents, like lemon, mint, or lavender, can be soothing and mask other smells. Acupuncture/acupressure may bring a little relief to HG, so may be worth trying during the holiday season for extra support.
7. Emotional Support: Dealing with a challenging medical condition like HG is emotionally taxing. Seek support from your loved ones, a therapist, or peer groups. Talking about your feelings and struggles can be incredibly helpful. You are not alone in this.
8. Avoid Triggers: Identify scents, foods, or situations that trigger nausea/vomiting and do your best to avoid them. Let family/friends know it is a crucial medical need to minimize triggers so they can help you proactively manage them. Try to stay in the areas where food is not being cooked. Add a rolled-up towel under the door to block the smells from the other side. Reduce exposure to cooking by doing potluck-style meals or checking for a dinner delivery service in your community.
9. Be Selective with Social Events: You don’t have to attend every social event during the holiday season. Prioritize the gatherings that mean the most to you and where you will feel the most comfortable. It is okay to say no!
10. Self-Care: Remember to take care of yourself. Extra rest and relaxation are crucial. A soothing environment with dim lighting and calming music can help reduce sensory overload. Plan for people to come to you instead of you traveling long distances. And remember that even on good days, do not overdo it or symptoms may worsen.
11. Emesis Bags: Order a pack of emesis bags and stash them everywhere: every room in the house, the car, diaper bags, your purse, suitcases, etc. Also, have one in your pocket or within reach at all times. Having a designated place to vomit, where it won’t make a mess, and you can easily get help to move to a more private space can significantly reduce anxiety.
12. Use Reminders: Most HG medications work most effectively when taken at the same time every day. Use your smartwatch or phone to set reminders ahead of time so you remember to take your medication during busy holiday activities.
13. Shopping: Use online ordering, pick up and delivery services for groceries , essentials, and gifts. You can do all the shopping from wherever you are most comfortable and even have someone else do the pickup.
Coping with HG during the holidays is undoubtedly challenging, but with proper planning and support, you can still find moments of joy and meaning in this special time. Prioritizing your health and the health of your baby is essential. Follow these tips, consult your healthcare provider to optimize your medications, and surround yourself with a supportive network to make the holiday season as enjoyable as possible. You aren’t alone. You’ve got this!