Treats to distract from the mortal coil, pregnant wife edition
July 1, 2020 6:57 AM   Subscribe

Mrs. REH is pregnant and for her this means agony.

- She gets really bad morning sickness, not for a month or something, but for most of the pregnancy
- She's taking B6 and Unisom, both of which make her feel groggy and not herself
- She has hormonal headaches that are worse with bad weather
- She's getting body aches and joint pain
- She's sensitive to smells/tastes, to sleeping conditions, to temperature and all of these are working against her right now
- She's caring for our 3yo while I work during the day
- *She had her gallbladder removed after the last one of these so lots of rich foods are a no-no

Her favorite thing is hot tub and massage, but these are not options under the circumstances.

What other products, activities, services can I indulge her in to make this time more bearable?

posted by Reasonably Everything Happens to Shopping (11 answers total)
Have you considered getting an inflatable hot tub? My mechanically-totally-challenged neighbor has one, it came in a box and he set it up himself and has been happy with it. Obviously you need a yard or patio for this. Or you could get immersible jets for your bathtub.

Are you working at home? Or outside of home? Either way, can you shift your schedule so that you take care of your child in the morning when your wife is, presumably, the most miserable? Also, some women have morning sickness with one pregnancy and not with another, so it might not be as bad this time.

As for massage there are a lot of youtube tutorials that will teach you to give her a basic massage. And this.
posted by mareli at 7:26 AM on July 1 [3 favorites]

(To me it sounds like she can't use a hot tub right now due to current temp sensitivities, even if she'd like to.)

How about a heat pad? Maybe applied specifically to the joints that bother her?

However, unfortunately most of what you list don't sound like things you can easily provide a direct solution for so I would suggest a strategy of making the rest of her life easier.

I'm assuming you already trying to take on as much childcare as you can but I would also suggest you try and do mornings/a few mornings a week (getting the 3 year old up, dressed and fed). I am currently 6 months pregnant and am forever grateful for the extra hour in the mornings that my husband takes care of our toddler.

Or if she is doing the majority of childcare, take on anything else she does - cleaning and cooking in particular. Headaches and and temp sensitivity sounds like a nightmare combination to spend time at the stove. Body aches and smells probably make cleaning much harder than usual.
posted by like_neon at 7:35 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]

Oh, this is why I only have two children. There's not a lot to do about it. She probably already knows that it is good to eat something first thing in the morning, even if one doesn't feel like it. In my experience, it is best when there is some substance to what you eat -yogurt and müsli instead of cereal and milk, whole grain bread rather than white for toast. It tastes better when someone serves it for you, with love.

I enjoyed a little bit of gelato.

Reassurance that it will end, every day, with hugs will be useful.

Tea made with ginger and lemon and a little bit of honey can be good, but may be horrible, specially on an empty stomach.

At first I avoided exercise because I was dealing with so much pain, but my aunt's neighbor, who is a physiotherapist, invited me to a pregnancy course she ran. It was very gentle exercise and a bit of mindfulness, and a lot of talking with the others in the class of 8. That really meant a lot for me. It didn't remove the pain entirely, but I learnt methods for handling it. I think some "yoga for expecting mothers" classes can be similar. I think it would work OK as a zoom thing, if not perfectly, and at least that means you can choose between courses from a wide geographical range.

Cooking hot meat was a nightmare, and even someone else cooking meat was horrible. Maybe you and the 3-yo can go on a partly vegetarian diet in solidarity? I would have loved that. (I remember a party where we made homemade sushi, that was fine and fun).
posted by mumimor at 7:47 AM on July 1 [4 favorites]

I also had nausea and vomiting for most of my pregnancy, and found that it made my headaches and body aches worse because I was dehydrated, so I had to seriously up my water intake which of course made me have to pee constantly so that was a trade-off. I got a sample of Diclegis and thought it worked better than the B6-Unisom OTC for whatever reason. If you can afford it, try this route. Otherwise, she could try drinking lots of water (or flavored water if that's more her jam) about 30 minutes BEFORE trying to eat. I spent my first trimester basically only consuming cucumber-lime Gatorade and it was the only thing I could keep down. Don't be picky with liquids, just drink drink drink. (Not alcohol, obviously. Be a little picky.)

I also found that ice packs helped a lot with my joint pain, and towards the end of my pregnancy had to sleep with ice packs being constantly replenished by my sainted husband. He would take a pair of gloves and freeze them up to the point where he could still get them on his hands, and then massage my legs with them.
posted by juniperesque at 7:58 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]

There are massage gun type things that will let her do a bit of self massage. I ordered this one off Amazon and it's been the best 100 bucks I've spent in a long time
posted by kathrynm at 8:18 AM on July 1

Your wife sounds a lot like me! My pregnancy experiences have been similarly miserable the whole way through. Pregnancy can be shockingly hard on a person's body.

What I appreciated most from my husband was:

- Taking care of household chores and letting me sleep
- Watching our toddler as much as possible and letting me sleep
- Cooking dinner for the rest of the family and letting me sleep
- Assurances that I was still beautiful even when I was going through all the weird body stuff that comes with pregnancy
- Nice big mugs of ice water
- Keeping us stocked with saltine crackers and peanut butter
- Big comfy pregnancy pillow like a Snoogle
- Foot rubs with unscented lotion
- Chocolate
posted by beandip at 8:22 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]

Zofran. Seriously. There is one meh registry study that maybe it increases the risk of cleft palates and heart problems if taken during the first trimester. I took it then, too, because, survival. I also had all day morning sickness until the 3rd trimester and Zofran saved my life/ability to function. I did get the constipation side effect (and some people experience headaches), but that's what the miralax is for. My doctors were all pro-Zofran and had no concerns about that study. Wishing her well!
posted by atomicstone at 8:28 AM on July 1 [5 favorites]

Seconding Zofran. I only had first trimester nausea (but while it lasted it was 24/7, unrelenting, all-food-is-inedible nausea) and Zofran lifted me from mostly non-functioning to mostly functioning. I didn't feel 100% but I felt well enough to eat food and that made a huge difference. You do not have to be at death's door to ask for it, I just sent a note to my midwife saying "hey this sucks, I can't function or take care of my kid, I can't focus at work, I've tried xyz, I would like to try this" and I got an Rx no problem.

Some ideas and tips based on what helped me:

-if not already, you should be handling all grocery shopping (because FOOD, ew) and if at all possible, take over preparing snacks and meals for the 3yo so your wife doesn't need to smell or touch food more than she has to. You can prep a little bag lunch + snacks for them in the morning. Kiddo can also eat "cold" foods like yogurt, sandwiches, crackers, pita and hummus, carrot sticks, whatever to help avoid cooking smells.

-I tried to muscle down some Greek yogurt, bit by bit, and the coldness + protein really helped the nausea back off. Also slowly sucking on hard candies or slowly eating tiny pretzels, one by one. Watermelon was easier to eat and helped with hydration. The key was to get a little bit of protein in me ASAP and that helped me get my feet under me, so to speak, so I could build on that and keep trying to eat more throughout the day. Having a totally empty stomach made everything worse.

-we hired a cleaning service to come in once a month and scrub the layer of grime off the house, it really helped.

-Pregnancy made me an extra-light sleeper and having the bed to myself helped. My husband occasionally slept on the couch for a night to give me a better chance at rest. Taking the Unisom before bed also helps. I occasionally also used a low dose of melatonin (like 2 mg).

-I had joint problems, mostly in my pelvis (symphysis pubis dysfunction) and did sessions with a physical therapist who gave me gentle stretches and exercises to do. She may be able to have an in-person or virtual session with a PT who can offer some good tips on relieving joint pain at home. Ultimately the only cure was actually having the baby.
posted by castlebravo at 9:11 AM on July 1 [3 favorites]

Nthing the Zofran. I tried to survive my second pregnancy on just Unisom plus B6 and landed in urgent care and needed drip liquids I was so dehydrated. I'm so grateful to the doctor who prescribed me Zofran on the spot and told me not to be a hero. Morning sickness is such a dismissive term for something that can be so debilitating.
posted by peacheater at 9:26 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]

Zofran for sure for the nausea.

Are you giving her foot and leg rubs? Hopefully you guys have some downtime - watching TV after kid is in bed, say - when you can easily do this, just have her feet in your lap while you watch, and go to town. (If it's something she likes, of course.) Not only does it feel wonderful physically on swollen pregnancy feet, it is a very loving and supportive thing for you to do for her emotionally.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:13 PM on July 1

I love long, hot baths in my regular life and really hated that pregnancy aparently made them unsafe (according to some sources....but maybe do some more looking into that and what the most recent science says about that). What I did was figure out what body temperature you were not supposed exceed, and then took warm/hot baths, but made sure to take my temperature every so often and ensure that my core temp didn't become significantly elevated.

A good bath is something like a hot tub (and probably safer temperature-wise because the water is always cooling). Could something like that help give her even a taste of what she misses from hot tubs?
posted by Bibliogeek at 10:28 PM on July 3

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