Birthing Ayurveda: Week 8—Intractable Vomiting
Welcome to Birthing Ayurveda, where we follow one woman's pregnancy experience week by week—from a positive home pregnancy test all the way to delivery.
This week I got real friendly with our toilet… and the airport toilet. I had spent the weekend with my parents and in-laws in Virginia and on the way back things just went haywire. This was a bit of a surprise to me since I hadn’t really had any vomiting. The day after I got back was my recovery day, that is, before I hit the bathroom again the next day.
That day was bad. A couple of hours after lunch, I started to vomit—every twenty minutes, on the dot. The first three or four was just purging my stomach of whatever was left in it (stopped eating and drinking anything after the third time). By the seventh time, I was calling my doctor for some medicine. I also called my teacher, begging for anything. Around the thirteenth time she was finally able to call me back—thank God!
Her solution: sour. Sour cuts pitta. She told me to forget being able to eat or drink anything, forget my burning esophagus—we just need to stop the vomiting.
I didn't have any particularly sour herbs or spices on hand. So, for the time being, my sister-in-law made a very soupy dal out of mung dal with nothing but salt and turmeric, and then she added a decent amount of lime for strong sourness.
I drank about a half cup of this, and it was just enough to stop the vomiting. I fell asleep on the bathroom floor (my sweet husband made a little resting bed for me), and was happy to wake up a couple of hours later to realize that I still had not vomited nor did I feel like vomiting more.
The medicine prescribed by my doctor (Phenergan and Diclegis) was averted (though I am keeping those close by just in case)! I continued intake of a little bit of sourness daily and I ate a very simple diet for the next day or two, even eliminating milk for the time being.
I am not entirely sure what the cause was, but I am sure it was not a GI virus. Part of it was hitting 8 weeks. And I am sure that the vata of traveling and flying aggravated my system to stimulate more of the upward movement.
Regardless, looking back on the previous two weeks and my digestive system (aside from all of the emotional issues and processing), I experienced, first-hand, how weak the digestive fire (agni) can be in the first trimester, creating indigestion, bloating, nausea, and intolerance to many foods (especially heavy foods).
Here are some tips that are safe in pregnancy to support the digestive fire.
- I ate small portions throughout the day. I am eating about six times a day. I try to still keep three meals heavier and the other three lighter (more like snacks and fruits that digest quickly). The idea is to not overwhelm the digestive fire with each meal, but also not make it constantly work throughout the day.
- I made sure I had enough protein with the three larger meals. I am eating a lot of dal.
- For now, I am avoiding foods that are hard to digest (cheese, heavy dairy, oily foods, and if I ate meat, I would probably be holding off on meat and sticking to broths). I tried rice pudding and tapioca pudding (which are normally great during pregnancy), but it was just too hard to digest this week. I make sure the foods are rich in protein and vitamins (cooked, grounding veggies like zucchini in my dal), and I mix a heaping spoon of ghee, which is also great for pitta, with my food.
- With a lot of burping and bloating, I started taking just a pinch of ginger after my meals. This helps support a healthy downward flow for digestion. Be careful—you do not want too much downward flow, so do just enough to help support your digestion.