Supermom Skills: Coping with Vomit

First of all, do you know how hard it is to come up with a title for a post about vomiting? Secondly, this is the least disgusting vomit-related photo I could find. You are welcome.

Anyways, at some point in time your child is going to vomit. Whether it is a standard stomach virus, food poisoning or a medication side effect. Some of us will be “blessed” with more vomit than others. I’ve caught my fair share of puke both as a birth doula and a momcologist. It’s easy to feel helpless as we watch our kids struggle through nausea. Let’s talk about some practical ways you can make vomiting less unpleasant.

Warning Signs

If you can anticipate it even a minute before it happens you will be able to help your child more effectively. Watch for:

  • Rapid, shallow breathing: Almost like panting. This is partly because of the diaphragm’s involvement in the vomit process and partly a panic reaction to feeling really bad (hyperventilation).
  • Heavy salivation: Your child may be refusing to swallow and may seem to have a lot of extra spit. They keep their mouth mostly open as part of the gag  reflex.
  • Panicked look: Even though small kids may have no idea what is happening they get this scared, panicky look in their eyes. Something unusual is going on in their body they can’t control. That usually triggers some level of fear.

Tips & Tricks

  • Vomit catchers: In my experience the worst two vomit catchers are the toilet (smell, sight makes nausea worse) and a curved bowl (risk of splash back, ’nuff said). My go-to puke recepticles are: wastebaskets or sickness bags. The small rectangular sterilite trash cans with a lipped edge work great but the down side is you have to clean it when you are done. Disposable sickness bags are my favorite by far. They are compact and you throw it away when you are done with it! We have them in every bathroom and in the car.
  • Position: Have them sit on the toilet or a chair. Bend at the hips so the head is near the knees but keep their chin & eyes up. This protects their airway but prevents vomit from coming out of their nose.
  • Breathing: Encourage slow steady breathing. This is more to prevent hyperventilation than anything else
  • Cool cloth on forehead or neck: An easy comfort measure that feels nice and can be used to wipe the mouth when finished.
  • Essential oil: I don’t recommend putting it on the skin. Instead put a few drops on a tissue and place it in the vomit catcher so that the smell can be breathed in. I find peppermint, ginger, chamomile or fennel essential oil seem to work the best. Can also be used to clear the air after vomiting.
  • Acupressure: Used for many years for everything from motion sickness to morning sickness. The P6 point seems to be the most effective. Look at the inside of your child’s wrist, find the creases. Go up the arm and inch or so and nestle a finger between the tendons that are there. Give steady firm pressure.
  • What you say matters: Inside you are mess because A. vomit is not fun and B. your baby is miserable. Pull it together, mama. Like any stressful situation your child needs words of affirmation and safety. “You are going to be okay.” “Mama is right here.” “Let’s breathe together.” “I’ve got you.” “It’s almost done.”

photo credit: Mike Monteiro via photopin cc
photo credit: Tobyotter via photopin cc

About Emily

Hi, my name is Emily. I’m a wife, mother, christian, momcologist, doula, writer, nerd, entrepreneur and dreamer. I like Apple products, chocolate, books, lists, being pregnant and the color purple. I fancy myself as a quirky combination of dreamy Anne Shirley and feisty Scarlett O’Hara but in a schizophrenic sort of way. Read on...

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