As long as I can remember, I have had a fear of throwing up. Nobody enjoys throwing up but the way I feel about it can only be classified as a phobia–emetophobia to be exact. I am extremely vigilant in avoiding illness, food poisoning, excess of alcohol, and people who vomit. Heck, I even took a food safety course so that I could be familiar with the proper way to handle and prepare food.
As you can imagine, the
morning all-day sickness associated with pregnancy has always been at the back of my mind, especially considering that I always knew I wanted to children. 34 weeks into my second pregnancy, I have yet to overcome this fear but I have been forced to deal with it head on.
Had my first pregnancy not been totally unexpected, I doubt I would have been able to try to conceive without some therapy ahead of time. That pregnancy began while I was on birth control (or so I thought) and my entire family had a stomach bug, I assumed my nausea was related to that and so I chugged Pepto every time I felt sick. I never actually threw up but by the time I realized I was pregnant, I made sure my stomach never got empty enough to feel nauseous.
Throughout that pregnancy, the phobia always kept me on my toes and I carried ginger chews, food, and antacids with me at. all. times. The emetophobia also impacted my decision to deliver drug-free in a birth center, as silly as that may sound. In the baby shows I watched, I saw way too many woman puking due to anesthesia and somehow I also associated cesarean delivery with vomiting.
The most terrifying moment during my actual delivery was the transition stage when I got nauseous (probably should have discussed that fear with the midwife ahead of time). Luckily that passed quickly enough and my husband held my hand through that period of anxiety.
I am an extremely laid-back person but dealing with phobia-induced anxiety during my son’s first flu season nearly crippled my ability to be around his little playgroup friends (who it seemed like were ALWAYS sick). Him getting sick was actually only terrifying because I was afraid he’d make ME sick. To this day, he’s only puked once when he was a year old and I went into mommy-mode and was fine caring for him.
Before trying to concieve a second baby, I learned that almost all emetophobic mothers report surviving their pregnancies without vomiting. I clung to this fact and kept my little sanity-saving remedies on hand at all times but in this pregnancy, I have not experienced even the tiniest amount of nausea. It kind of freaked me out for awhile because I assumed something must have been wrong instead of counting my blessings.
The phobia more of a seasonal struggle that I’m sure I’ll deal with eventually (I hope) and I’m lucky to know a few moms who share this fear that I can talk to whenever I need to cope. I always wonder if it will ever be gone completely or if it will just lie dormant until another trigger arises…
I’m curious if other women experience pregnancy related phobias? How do you deal?
Photo by Captures By Erin