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Emetophobia (fear of vomiting) and nausea during 1st trimester

(14 Posts)
L0ngg0ne Thu 19-Oct-17 18:41:06

I didn’t realise how much I fear vomiting until I became pregnant and started experiencing that dreaded symptom - ‘morning sickness’ or nausea.

I’m 8 weeks into pregnancy and for the past 3 weeks I’ve been battling constant nausea, with terrifying moments of feeling as though I’m going to throw up any second. Whenever I experience the initial stomach-churning sensation, followed by the salivating mouth, my heart RACES with anxiety. I try everything in my power to suppress the ‘about to be sick’ feeling, utterly refusing to do so. Luckily, so far I’ve been successful, but this daily battle is becoming increasingly distressing.

Why am I so scared of throwing up? Until about 6 months ago, the last time I threw up was when I was 9-years-old (I am currently 24), which is typical for emetophobics - not having thrown up since childhood. Earlier this year, however, I found myself having a fully blown panic attack during a hangover, whilst on the phone to my mother (she’s also emetophobic - more intensely than myself - so I knew she’d understand my distress and be able to offer empathy and reassurance). In the midst of all that, there was a moment when I realised that throwing up was imminent and kind of surrendered, allowing the dreaded act to take place (don’t ask my how I managed to do this - I have no idea :| ). Afterwards, I felt instant relief (felt like Superwoman! *little dance*). I realised, in that moment, that the act of throwing up was a lot easier than the distress caused by the build-up to it. I really thought that after that experience, I’d never fear or struggle with vomiting again - but here I am now, more terrified now than I was then!

I guess the difference is that with a stomach bug, food poising or alcohol, you know that by throwing up you’re ridding your system of the irritant/poison causing you to feel rubbish, and bringing yourself closer to recovery - so there’s an incentive to throw up, at least. With pregnancy, however, the nausea is caused by hormones, meaning there’s nothing harmful or foreign that needs to be expelled by the body, strictly speaking. Because of this, I know that even if I were to throw up, the nausea would only just CONTINUE - it wouldn’t be the end of it! Also, my nausea tends to result from hunger - my belly not being quite full - so it seems as though throwing up (emptying the contents of my stomach, completely) would only plunge me into further nausea - vicious cycle.

Any other pregnant women sharing my distress?

Also, are there any effective remedies for pregnancy nausea (I refuse to call it ‘morning sickness’ - a totally misleading and trivialising name)? Nothing seems to be working, and I feel like I’ve tried everything! sad Despite an un-full stomach being the main trigger of my nausea, I find it difficult to constantly eat or snack because I’m currently repulsed by most foods. In addition, foods that are exempt from this repulsion (plain foods such as rice, crackers etc) don’t seem to curb my hunger enough to reduce the nausea or keep it at bay.

I appreciate your thoughts.

Thank you for your time.

Jessiecat27 Thu 19-Oct-17 18:51:30

It's horrible isn't it! I have it too so I know how you feel! I'm in my third trimester now, the nausea has come back slightly! The only thing I found to help was to avoid certain smells that I knew triggered it and to constantly sip ice cold water, I know everyone is different though so it might not help for you. You can get anti-emetics from the doctor such as cyclizine but I'm not sure whether they help with the nausea! Hope it doesn't last long for you!

onlyconnect Thu 19-Oct-17 18:51:52

I’m emetophobic too and I really believe I’ve trained myself not to be sick. I felt very sick during two pregnancies but was never actually sick. There are things you can take for nausea during pregnancy but you’d need to see your GP.
I’ve found Rob Kelly’s Thrive programme useful (Google it) in helping making me less scared but I’m not cured. I wish I was.

Anatidae Thu 19-Oct-17 18:57:37

I suffered from hyperemesis during my pregnancy and was sick up to 20x a day for nine months. Hopefully this isn’t happening to you - abuse and sickness at 8 weeks is common and hopefully it’ll see for you.

Emetophobia is actually not uncommon and it’s something that does respond well to the ‘easier’ therapies. So I think you need. Two pronged approach:

1. Talk to your mw about your emetophobia- there are therapies available that can help
2. Will depend on how bad you are: nausea is common during pregnancy and it can be awful. If it’s causing you severe distress or if you can’t keep food or fluids down then there are drugs that sometimes help. Again talk to your mw - there are over the counter remedies like meclozine that have a good safety profile. No drug is risk free - it’s inportant to say that. At the same time, if you are really suffering, taking a mild anti nausea drug could be beneficial.

Talk to your mw.

Anatidae Thu 19-Oct-17 18:58:10

Abuse and sickness? Nausea and sickness! Bloody autocorrect

L0ngg0ne Thu 19-Oct-17 19:03:38

Thank you, lovely ladies! I’m surprised to discover that there’s a whole community of women sharing this phobia on here - I thought I was the only one, or something! I’ve been prescribed anti-emetics (Cyclizine, 50mg), but I’ve been scared to take them as my GP warned that anti-emetics may not be safe to take during pregnancy as they’ve not been tested on pregnant women (the same goes for a lot of medication, he said), and I wouldn’t want to cause harm to the baby sad I’d love for a pill to zap this nausea away, but I wish there was a safe one on the market! I’ll definitely get my partner to get a bag of ice cubes, and I’ll have a look at that programme right now!

Thanks again, ladies!

L0ngg0ne Thu 19-Oct-17 19:11:06

Thank you, Anatidae, for your informative response. HG sounds horrific and like my worst nightmare. I admire the strength of any woman who’s managed to endure it throughout their pregnancy, or even a part of it! I haven’t actually vomited (yet?) - the fear has kept it away (an intense bid to suppress and control the urge to do so, rather - very mentally exhausting).

I’ve not yet been given a midwife, but I’ll make an appointment with my GP to discuss assigning me one, and I’ll definitely bring it up to her - I didn’t know I could be given therapy.

I’m very wary of medicine being potentially harmful during pregnancy, so a lesser-harmful medicine would definitely be of interest to me - I’ll read into that one!

Thanks, again!

ItsLikeRainOnYourWeddingDay Thu 19-Oct-17 19:11:36

If you ever actually think you will throw up, drink a pint of water. If you do through up you will retch less and it will be over quicker. Trust me. I had hyperemesis twice.

As for medication. Your gp is being terrible. Cyclizibd has been used for decades. It's fine. There are others too. Do some research.

Rabbitykins55 Thu 19-Oct-17 19:21:17

I also suffer with this but made it through pregnancy and labour without being sick. Just wanted you to know it’s possible!

I found it was worse when I was really hungry so carry snacks. Sea bands are also useful. Oh and sour sweets for some reason too!

L0ngg0ne Thu 19-Oct-17 19:30:53

Thanks for the water tip. I’ve tended to avoid water at the peak of my nausea as I fear it’ll aggravate my tummy more, but it seems I’ve been wrong - a few people (my partner included) have suggesting drinking water just as I start to feel that “Ok, I’m going to be sick” feeling coming on. I’ll pluck up the courage to try it next time.

Well, my mum took an anti-emetics (one beginning with M) for a few weeks which really helped her, and my little sister was born just fine. My mum took them towards the end of the first trimester, and by the time she stopped taking them the nausea had worn off. I guess I’m waiting until about week 10 to take them, so I wouldn’t have to take them for very long (providing my nausea wears off around week 13/14, too).

I’ve tried sea bands but they don’t seem to do much for me sad I’ll have to try sour sweets, though!

Thank you!

Anatidae Thu 19-Oct-17 19:38:59

Nothing is truly proven to be 100% safe but that’s mainly because we don’t usually test drugs on pregnant women-the evidence just isn't There. I work in drug development at the moment ;)
What we do have is many many case reports of women being pregnant and taking a drug (not a trial) and the effects, or lack of them, that they have. This data shows us that several drugs are considered to have good safety profiles in pregnancy.

This website has various sections on drugs if you want to look.

Practical measures you can take are to rest as much as you can. Don’t get dehydrated or too hungry. Avoid smells or triggers - this is where your partner empties the bin daily and does all the cooking!

Rest really helps.

Please do look into treatments for the phobia as well - emetophobia is surprisingly common and responds well to treatment in many cases. It’s not necessarily something you have to suffer with.

All the best!

MegsMog Thu 19-Oct-17 19:48:44

My GP prescribed Cyclizine too, and said its one of the safest ones as its been used for years and years with no harm shown. I think your GP is being very unfair. Please take the pills!

SomehowSomewhere1 Thu 19-Oct-17 20:00:54

Emetphobic too - I went to the docs as soon as I found out I was pregnant, he gave me two types of anti-emetics. Just a few of each. I have some at home and in my handbag. I haven't taken them yet (22wks) but knowing I had them helped.

I carry water, cereal bars, mints and rennies with me. Hunger makes me worse, ditto tiredness. Eating little and often helps a lot, as does working out which foods your tummy likes.

I did quite a bit of dry retching when tired / smells but thankfully always at home, as worse when it was evening. But thankfully not sick. Have told my midwife, and anti-emetics will be on my birth plan.

Jessiecat27 Thu 19-Oct-17 20:05:45

Also if toothpaste makes you feel sick, Holland and barrett do all sorts of none mint flavours or you can get a non flavoured toothpaste online! Can't remember what brand I had now but it was a life safer as I'd gag if I tried to use a strong toothpaste!

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