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Newly pregnant, emetophobic and feeling desperately scared and trapped

(36 Posts)
sw25 Sat 09-Feb-13 18:29:08

I'm now 7 weeks pregnant with my first child and the nausea well and truly kicked in this week. The problems is, I am severely emetophobic, to the point where I haven't thrown up for over 20 years. I put off pregnancy until now because of this life-controlling phobia (I'm 35) but knew it was now or never if I ever wanted to give my DH a child. It happened on our first attempt, which I know I should feel grateful for, but it was a massive shock.

Felt great for the first two weeks after finding out, and ate healthily. But now I just feel sick to my stomach, all day, every day. There is literally no respite from this hideous on-the-brink-of-vomiting feeling and it's terrifying for someone who suffers such a crippling phobia. I'm forcing myself to eat small snacks every few hours (crackers, dry cereal, toast, white rice etc) and I'm even taking anti-emetic medicines prescribed by my doc, but nothing is working. I haven't actually been sick yet but fear it is inevitable.

My biggest fear is that this is the start of HG - if I got that, it would kill me. I have so much respect for women who survive an HG pregnancy.

My long-suffering husband is getting the brunt of it all. I can't leave the house or even sofa as I feel so rotten. And the worst thing of all is this is only the start - it could go on for weeks, or even the entire pregnancy.

I suffer from extreme anxiety/panic attacks and have been crying hysterically most nights this week. I feel trapped by the pregnancy, and don't feel any bond or feelings for the baby. It sounds terrible but I feel almost like I've been infected with a stomach virus that's going to last for months. I feel I need some kind of psychiatric help, but doctor hasn't been much help on that front. The last few nights I've considered abortion, which makes me feel terrible. But that is how scared I am. Really don't know what to do.

thatthingonyournose Sun 05-Oct-14 12:24:29

As a fellow emetophobe may I advise you that there are some over the counter and some prescription anti-emetics that can help, if you think 'it' is about to happen. And you can take them in pregnancy. In the first trimester I had Dramamine (travel sickness pill) for my morning sickness (took it maybe three times in the first 12 weeks, so not a lot) and it stopped it. Now in third trimester I am on stemetil (prochlorperazine maleate) given to me by my obstetrician for late pregnancy nausea. Both work and are very reassuring and allow me to enjoy the pregnancy.

ladyflower23 Sun 05-Oct-14 10:10:13

I've just read your update post op and realized you now turned a corner so maybe my advice no longer useful but really glad to hear things are on the up and you're getting some help ��

ladyflower23 Sun 05-Oct-14 09:48:10

Another emetophobe!! Have been lucky as only had moderate nausea. Only felt in danger of being sick once in Sainsburys but it passed. I had CBT many years ago and it was useful and I would go back to your gp and ask him to put you on a list for this. Please make it clear to him how this is effecting you. Just giving you anti emetics is not going to help the problem which is your fear of being sick. CBT taught me to think that if I felt sick I might be sick but then it would be over and I would feel better and I wouldn't die! It is a very difficult way to think when you have just spent your whole life avoiding the feeling and anxiety. But the whole avoidance thing feeds the phobia. I reached a point a few years ago when I thought about how much time I had spent worrying about being sick every day and the number of times I have actually been sick (which is currently 0 in 20 years) and realized how much of my life and happiness I had wasted. Since then everytime I start to worry I think about this and it stops me taking it any further. I am in no way 'cured' but it does not rule my life in the way it did. Some people in my office had norovirus recently and I still managed to go to work and not have any panic attacks. Ten years ago I would not have been able to do that. Being sick is not the problem. Emetephobia is the problem. i know that's hard to hear. Please try and get some treatment for your condition so you can enjoy your pregnancy and your baby. Good luck to you I really feel for you and know how utterly life controlling this horrible condition is but it CAN improve with the right help I promise. Don't give up xxxx

sw25 Sun 05-Oct-14 04:03:07

I know this is an old post but wanted to bookend it with what happened to me, in case anyone else is pregnant, emetophobic and freaking out like I was.

The bad news is that the nausea never went away, it lasted all day, every day for 37 weeks when my son was born. I struggled massively during this time but had good support from my GP and CMHT. I was put on sedatives and strong anti emetic medicines to get me through. And despite being bed bound most of the time, and having several very close calls, I was never actually sick.

My advice would be to tell everyone caring for you about your fear and how serious it is. That means your midwife, GP, health visitor and the team looking after you when giving birth. I had a fantastic consultant looking after me when I gave birth, she made sure I was pumped full of anti sickness medicine and was so kind and patient with me. My beautiful son would not be here if it wasn't for her.

So if you're going through this, you CAN do it. Bringing my son home from hospital was the most emotional and wonderful moment of my life, after 9 months of hell, he was finally here. Please feel free to PM me if tout want any encouragement or support. I truly believe I have the most severe firm of this phobia, so if I can get through pregnancy and giving birth, then any emetophobe can! Now just trying to get to grips with HIM getting ill, awaiting his first sickness bug, which I'm sure is on its way!

Smitten1981 Sun 17-Mar-13 16:44:30

I've had counselling for years for a huge fear of being sick and others being sick. I suffered from terrible panic attacks every time I went out in public in case I or someone else was sick.

The only thing that has helped me is hypnotherapy. It hasn't gone completely, but it's about 90% better and totally manageable. I'm 9 weeks pregnant now and although I feel very sick most days I haven't been sick yet. I still get a bit panicky about it, but I think feeling sick is a lot worse than actually vomiting.

Anyway, I'd totally recommend hypnotherapy. Works a treat! Good luck with your pregnancy x

Saundy Sun 17-Mar-13 16:40:05

Haha lucyb me too!

Glad to see you've turned a corner smile

Saundy Sun 17-Mar-13 16:38:29

See if your local NHS trust has an IAPTS department, if they do you should be able to self refer & bypass your Dr if you feel they aren't being helpful.

The important thing is that you are aware of the problem & willing to seek help so that's a huge problem already overcome.

It must be terrible but hang in there, you'll get through this.

Congratulations with the pregnancy & good luck.

lucybrad Sun 17-Mar-13 14:06:53

bugger - just read your last post. oh well my advice may help other emets lol

lucybrad Sun 17-Mar-13 14:06:09

Emetophobic with three pregnancies (one twin preg) and so far touch wood - chronic nausea from 6.5 till 9 weeks each time then ok, but feeling offish. Not been sick yet. I think an emetophobic spends so much time not trying to get sick they may (hopefully) have a bit more control. Its shit that your feeling crap but it doesnt have to last till 12 weeks or longer it may be like mine and stop at 9. Hang on in there. You'll beat this. You will.

sw25 Sun 17-Mar-13 11:43:03

Hi - OP here. Just wanted to say a massive thanks to all if the lovely ladies who responded. I have re-read your posts over and over again in the last 6 weeks, as I have been really struggling. I'm now nearly 13 weeks and still feeling sick every day. However, I am managing to eat more. Fish fingers, mash and beans last night, which I actually enjoyed eating! Hoping I might be turning a corner although feeling pretty grim again this morning. It seems to come and go. Seeing mental health team this week and doctor is coming to see me at home tomorrow to assess me. Just keep fantasizing about pottering around the garden in a few months with my bump and feeling the sunshine on my grey, gaunt face. Anyway, thanks SO much to you all. You've given me the strength to think maybe I can do this...

SoYo Tue 12-Feb-13 19:38:22

I am now 37 weeks pregnant and have never had emetophobia but was very sick until 16 weeks. I felt the same as you in terms of no positive feelings towards the baby/pregnancy (to the point that I thought of it, semi-jokingly only, as a parasite and often referred to it as such). It's difficult when you're so ill to convince yourself to have positive feelings towards something that seems so far off and unreal but is currently making you feel like you have the world's worst hangover every day. I am now well in pregnancy and have been since then but still don't feel massive rushes of excitement. I definitely now feel very protective towards the Bubba and have done since it started moving and got past the 24 week mark but I don't feel overwhelming love and I don't think I will until after delivery. I was really worried about this but thanks to honest friends, mumsnet and various other things I now know this is totally normal and not something to feel guilty about!

The really positive thing about you is that you recognise that you need some extra help with this, which is very reassuring! Your best bet is a referral to your local perinatal mental health team which either your midwife or GP can sort (I would advise asking to see a different GP as they will form part of your support network).

EddieVeddersfoxymop Tue 12-Feb-13 19:37:41

Another anxious emetophobe here......I had full on HG, was physically sick 20-30 times a day. I ended up hospitalised as I could keep nothing down. I couldn't cope....and had some dark moments where I wondered about ending it and terminating. I got through it though.....because I nearly got my wish and bled heavily up until 17 weeks. The fear that I might lose it made me realise that this pregnancy was wanted.

I tried medications, eating ginger stuff, sea sickness bands...but in the end had great success with acupuncture.

The sickness came back though..initial nausea at around 38 weeks on and then full on spewing the day before I went into labour.

You can do it - get talking to your GP and midwife and take it one day at a time.

rainand Tue 12-Feb-13 18:18:05


I also have a phobia of vomiting (though maybe not as strong as you), and though I had severe nausea, I never once did puke! In fact, at times, I wish I could puke, as to relieve the sickness. Many women actually feel relief after they have puked.

Because of the sickness, I also did not bond with the baby until my 1st scan around 13-14 weeks. I was also considering termination and felt I had pre-natal depression. I am so glad I didn't. I felt so much better once I reached three months. Honestly hang in there, it will get better once you reach three months.

Missy28 Tue 12-Feb-13 18:09:05

Ps I work with a lady who does hypnotherapy and she advised me to think 'I'm NOT going to be sick today' every day whenever I was starting to worry. Positive thinking helps smile

Missy28 Tue 12-Feb-13 18:07:06

I am EXACTLY the same!! Don't you worry, you're not alone smile I panicked and panicked as soon as nausea started and I didn't leave the house for ages (I was mainly online looking up cures!). In the end, I got myself I Boots and bought some travel sickness bracelets and I swear they are a miracle! I don't even care if its just a placebo effect and it tricked my brain into not feeling sick, it worked and that's all I care about. I took them off at 14 weeks and have been ok since then (touch wood). Hope this helps! Xx

Gingerpanther27 Mon 11-Feb-13 15:20:59

For what it's worth theres sweets you can get online called preggie pops which contain natural ingredients and they worked better than any anti-sickness tablets I was prescribed the website I got them off was (I think it was and that really helped me with the nausea and constantly been sick hope it works out smile x

dunkinhobnobs Sun 10-Feb-13 17:13:34

I am another emetophobe who had the excitement of falling pregnant ruined by my phobia. I found out mine was a twin pregnancy at 6 weeks and this explained the awful nausea I was suffering. This continued for the whole 8 months I was pregnant, flooring me completely up until about 20 weeks, when I continued to feel nauseous but could control it by not getting too hungry. To my relief, during my whole pregnancy I WAS NOT SICK ONCE!! I felt then, and still do feel that I was incredibly lucky and now I amTTC again, I must admit the fears have all crept back.
All I am trying to say to you is that you may avoid being sick and that the nausea is likely to get better.
Like you, I am amazed by anyone who makes it through a HG pregnancy. I know that they do not get a choice in it but I'm not sure I could cope.
On another note, I finally sought help with my phobia when my twins were pre-school age as it was taking over my life more and more as the years went by. Although I appreciate that I will never be cured, I feel I am more in control of it than it is of me most days now and am glad I made the move and went to the Drs. If you want to ask any questions about the treatment or just chat about how rubbish it is to have the phobia, then you know where to find me.

Hooya Sun 10-Feb-13 12:16:56

Hi and so sorry you are going through this. As a former severe anxiety sufferer and emetophobe I can totally empathise.

I am nearly 9 weeks pregnant and was most scared of, ok utterly dreading the sickness. I wanted you to know that even if it does happen, you get through it!

I have been sick a few times in the past couple of weeks. I was utterly terrified the first time, hadn't been sick for 10 years before that, and my partner found me standing over the sink saying "oh please no I can't do it I don't want to" etc blush . But once you're there and if you have no choice, it happens and you get through it and may feel better for a while afterwards! You know how it is, the fear of the thing happening is so much worse than it actually happening. There's a reason why most emetophobics are people who are not sick very often - it's only not being sick that allows us to build up the fear!

I would recommend some reading on negative automatic thinking - the theory that anxiety sufferers automatically have negative thoughts ("I'm going to be sick / I won't be able to cope / I'll die from sickness") and can logically work our way through these thoughts. Next time you're in the grip of real panic about it, try asking yourself:

1. What am I worried will happen if I'm sick? (example answer - I won't be able to stop)
2. To what extent do I believe this to be true? (100%, I'm terrified!)
3. What evidence is there to support this view? (mmm, well even people with HG get better eventually, and most people either never throw up or do only a few times)
4. To what extent is my fear actually likely to come true (hopefully a lot less than 100%)

Sorry if that's long-winded or not helpful but I've been re-using all my old anxiety techniques so far in pregnancy, and it does seem to be helping.

And remember, the best thing about anxiety - it ALWAYS goes away eventually!!

Missingthemincepies Sun 10-Feb-13 10:53:50

Oh and tiredness makes the nausea much worse. Sleep whenever you can.

Missingthemincepies Sun 10-Feb-13 10:51:54

Sorry you're feeling this way, it must be incredibly hard.
I'd echo what others have said, that vomiting isn't inevitable.
Things that may help
Speak to midwife and ask for referral to antenatal mental health team.
Don't go too long without food - always have a ginger biscuit or similar before getting out of bed in the morning, snack all day. Lots of people can manage salt and vinegar crisps (hula hoops my personal favourite!)
Don't let yourself get dehydrated, use ice lollies if need be.
Consider trying the natal hypnotherapy for morning sickness CD. I haven't used this but found others in the range to be fantastic.

Try to focus on the goal, the baby, rather than the pregnancy. And as said above, just try to survive 1 day at a time.

Hope you feel better soon, some women only have nausea for a couple of weeks, hold on to that. You've shown amazing courage to get this far, you can do this.

CityDweller Sun 10-Feb-13 10:37:22

You poor thing, I really feel for you. Apart from echoing what others have said (I too felt sick until about 13 wks, but was never actually sick) know that phobias can be treated. I'm flying phobic (despite having to do it a lot) and was freaking cos I had to fly during pregnancy but couldn't take my usual anti-anxiety drugs. I read a great book which, shock of shocks, actually really helped me cope with the flights far, far better than at any time over the past 10 years. I was amazed. The book was based on CB (cognitive behavioral) techniques and it made me believe that this was a good way to deal with phobias. If you can get some treatment via GP/ mw then great, otherwise maybe find a book, or set of CDs on overcoming phobias. It's awful when you feel phobias control your life, but they really can be treated and being pregnant is the perfect opportunity for you tackling your emetophobia and hopefully improving the quality of your life long term. You can do it!

Sams4lo Sun 10-Feb-13 10:26:52

Hey can totally understand I'm the same, I have had morning sickness, but not been sick touch wood! Nevasic (iPhone/pod etc) app is fantastic, travel sickness bands, nibble biscuits and drink plenty. I felt really low at one point during this pregnancy, but keep going it will be ok, and see your GP, mine have been fab and referred me to perinatal team, for additional support! What also helped was having a private scan, and seeing the little one, as it made it feel more real and helped me accept feeling dreadful smile
There is plenty of support out there and don't do what I did and be alone! Ask for help, see your midwife etc smile

june2013 Sat 09-Feb-13 22:23:25

I felt nauseous but was only sick once because I went too long without food. The nausea stopped at 9/10 weeks for me so I had very little relatively speaking. I also ate as you said dry crackers etc and always carried them on me for emergencies. Despite the pain and awful feelings I found the fresh air did me a lot of good and when that didn't work, I slept. It will pass, it always does. And being sick isn't always part of the package and others can attest to.

It must be really hard to go through what you're going through though. I hope it works out for you. All the best x

Kelerina Sat 09-Feb-13 20:33:56

I'm 37 weeks now and have not thrown up once during my pregnancy, Its not inevitable that you will be sick either. I agree with previous poster, take it one day at a time and bonding does not happen immediately, it comes once you feel movements and hear heartbeat etc xxx

plummyjam Sat 09-Feb-13 20:00:14

Sympathies - pregnancy nausea is truly grim. I can't even imagine what it would be like with emetophobia. My suggestions would be:

1) Try and stay objective - statistically you are unlikely to develop HG and in most cases nausea wears off between 12 and 16 weeks, although it can be little longer for some women
2) Just because you feel nauseated, doesn't follow that you will be sick, as others have said above
3) Speak to your GP and explain what you've put in your post above. There are lots of different anti-emetics that are safe to use in pregnancy. Some work better than others for different people. Fear and anxiety can make nausea worse. Ask if you can be referred urgently for CBT? NHS waiting lists can be long - have you got the means to be seen privately if necessary?
4) Food wise in addition to the above, things I found helpful were eating little and often, ice pops, custard/rice pudding cups and jellies. Don't get too hung up on trying to eat healthily if you can't face it, just get down what will stay down. And I avoided cooking like the plague.

Good luck - try and take each day at a time - in all likelihood it will pass.

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