Morning Sickness

I need to get a rant out of my system, and it’s about the greatest pregnancy misnomer there is: morning sickness.

I was in work one day, about 6 weeks pregnant with my first baby and feeling fine, when I was suddenly hit by violent waves of nausea. I lay down in a meeting room for a while, but eventually picked myself up and walked out of the office. I didn’t return for 10 weeks. Instead, I lay in bed quaking with sickness, consuming nothing but Lucozade and crackers. Vomiting actually brought blessed relief from the nausea, for a few minutes at least.

Think back to the worst hangovers of your life – you know the sweaty, fat-tongued ones where you’re afraid to move your head in case you puke down the wall, where you can’t even contemplate bacon and Coke, and the merest chink of light makes your eyeballs explode? Now imagine that for 24 hours a day, for weeks and weeks on end. This is what they daintily call ‘morning sickness’.

This offensive term is constantly used in the press, on parenting blogs, in books – EVERYWHERE – and is a complete load of bollocks. For a start, most expectant mothers I’ve known actually experience their nausea in the evenings, when energy levels are low and exhaustion takes its toll. Some women – Kate Middleton being a famous example – are even admitted to hospital suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum – or to use the technical term: dehydration from relentless spewing.

Yet some women don’t experience pregnancy sickness at all. There is no medical explanation for it, it’s just ‘one of those things’. I was simply one of the unlucky ones. What makes it even more difficult is that it generally peaks during those first 12 weeks when you’re not supposed to divulge your pregnancy to anyone, or when you don’t have a big belly to wave in people’s faces on the bus to get a seat. Most women have to just suffer in silence, getting by with an office desk drawer full of Ritz crackers and frequent trips to the toilet. One friend of mine nearly crashed her car en route to work as she screeched onto the hard shoulder, opened the door and barfed into the road. Amazingly, she wasn’t pulled up for drink driving.

But my main gripe is with the genius who coined this phrase and the massive disservice they have done pregnant women. It implies that those of us who couldn’t get out of bed, who couldn’t even walk into our own kitchens for fear of smelling food, are weak, maybe milking it a bit to get some attention and time off work. Believe me, I’d have loved nothing more than to feel good and enjoy my first pregnancy. Instead, I was forced to waste nearly one-third of it feeling like shite when I should have been out enjoying my last months of freedom.

So please, newspaper and magazine editors, people of the world in general, can we start calling it pregnancy sickness?

Did you suffer from pregnancy sickness, and what helped you cope? Do share with us!