A guest post – giving hyperemesis gravidarum the voice it needs.

I recently came across a post over on We’re going on an adventure about hyperemesis gravidarum. I feel very, very lucky that this has never happened to me, but I have a close friend who really suffered, and there just wasn’t enough support out there. She was admitted to hospital so many times with dehydration, but she needed the emotional support too. As a single mum, battling this condition alone, she found it incredibly tough, and I am in awe of how well she managed. I am all for raising awareness of this condition, and without further ado I hand you over to the lovely Caitlin from Spewing Mummy.

When was the last time you had a bad tummy bug? Have you ever had food poisoning? Think back to what it’s like being really, really sick for 24 hours… now imagine if that lasted a week… now imagine it lasting a month… now imagine if it lasted nine long months. And on top of that, imagine if no one believed you.

Not only are women with hyperemesis gravidarum throwing up and constantly nauseous for at least 5 months and often (60% of sufferers) for the full nine months of pregnancy, but they are also being bombarded with nonsense about how they shouldn’t be sick – because they are only pregnant!

 Hyperemesis gravidarium
Other unhelpful misconceptions which currently abound in society about hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) include:

  • It’ll be over by 12 weeks
  • It doesn’t harm the baby, it will take what it needs from your reserves
  • It’s just a bit of morning sickness, have a shower, go for a walk and you’ll feel much better
  • Ginger helps with pregnancy sickness
  • There is no medication safe for use in pregnancy
  • Women who take medication for morning sickness are selfish

And these are just the tip of the ignorance iceberg!

Yes, morning sickness is a normal part of pregnancy with up to 80% of pregnant women experiencing it to a greater or lesser degree. But hyperemesis gravidarum is not a normal part of pregnancy, it is a dangerous complication of pregnancy, which without treatment can have serious consequences for both mum and baby. In the UK nearly 10% of wanted pregnancies complicated with HG are lost due to a lack of knowledge and inadequate treatment by healthcare professionals.

And that is why we need to raise awareness about this horrendous condition which can lead to multiple hospital admissions, long term health complications, significant mental health problems and poor pregnancy outcomes. Social isolation, financial problems and employment discrimination all come along as standard for many HG sufferers and their families.

Women in the depth of the condition find it incredibly difficult to speak up and advocated for themselves. Getting out of bed can be near on impossible when it triggers violent emetic episodes. So having to battle with their doctor or midwife, their unhelpful mother-in-law or their boss, about just how seriously ill they are and how much they need their life-saving medication and time off work is like a whole other level of torture – a preventable level!

This is a common experience of HG sufferers around the world and yet it’s the only part of hyperemesis that we currently have the cure for. There are a number of medical treatments available for HG which are safe but their efficiency is far from curative. Admittedly they do cure some women of their symptoms, particularly at the lower end of the spectrum. But for those with severe HG they serve only to “take the edge off” and keep the sufferer alive.

What we do have the cure for though is the lake of misconceptions and ignorance that the condition is swimming in, not just with the general public but the medical world too. We can, and must, drain that lake and raise the profile of HG to the level it deserves. Women suffering HG have done nothing to cause or deserve their symptoms and yet they are frequently met with cruel comments and wilful neglect.

It’s 2014 and it’s time that things change. Women should no longer need to suffer unnecessarily just because they have a complication of pregnancy. They deserve to be treated with kindness, compassion and the most up to date, evidence based treatments available. That is my mission and that is why I have co-authored a book with my colleague Amanda Shortman called Hyperemesis Gravidarum – The Definitive Guide. It is due to come out in September and once it’s on the UK market there will no longer be any excuse for the public and medical world to claim ignorance about this horrendous, joy destroying, miserable condition which kills babies and limits families.

If you are suffering now then get in touch with charity Pregnancy Sickness Support for help and information and check out my blog Spewing Mummy were I write about everything HG from excessive saliva to how partners can advocate for you. Don’t suffer in silence because you are not alone.

To be the first to find out when you can order the book Hyperemesis Gravidarum – The Definitive Guide click here and fill in your email at the bottom.

About Caitlin Dean: A three time hyperemesis gravidarum survivor and a Registered General Nurse she is passionately dedicated to raising awareness about HG and providing support to sufferers. She is a trustee for the charity PSS and a national spokespersons for HG. She has just returned to her Cornish farm after 6 months of travelling around North America with her husband and three small kids.

Hyperemesis Gravidarium

 

 

Follow:

12 Comments

  1. August 6, 2014 / 8:47 am

    I am glad you are so dedicated to such a great cause. It must be horrible for women who have to go through this.

  2. August 6, 2014 / 8:49 am

    I agree it needs to be talked about and the individuals supported alot more than is happening now. My mum suffered terribly with it when she was expecting all three times. I had what I considered bad sicknesses throughout my pregnancy but was also told i was “milking it” and it wasn’t as bad as it thought. One midwife told me to pull myself together. All of this is so unhelpful and makes expectant mums feel very isolated. Thanks for raising this issue x

  3. August 6, 2014 / 8:55 am

    I went to the Dr around the same time Kate Middleton was admitted to hospital and was totally dismissed as jumping on the bandwagon! However after my scan confirming it was twins they took me more seriously. Sad that it’s just supposed to be accepted as part of pregnancy and not recognises x #weeklywednesday
    Beth Twinderelmo recently posted…Wicked Wednesdays [6/8/14 #2]My Profile

  4. August 6, 2014 / 8:55 am

    Such a helpful post to those suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum or worried about it. There definitely needs to be more UK support for it!

  5. August 6, 2014 / 9:05 am

    I was diagnosed with hg at 24 weeks with my eldest. My original midwife was horrendous, and when at 16 week appointment I told her I couldn’t keep anything down, was losing at least two days a week at work (I was a teacher so not ideal!) and was losing weight at an alarming rate, she told me that it was normal, and I shouldn’t have got pregnant if I couldn’t deal with morning sickness – it wasn’t morning sickness. It was morning, afternoon, evening and night sickness. Eventually I got a second opinion and was diagnosed with HG. Luckily, by that point it started to ease, although I was still quite sicky all the way through (heartburn and acid reflux took over from HG!) but I could have ended up dangerously ill because of that midwife. It really does need awareness. Thankyou for sharing. #weeklywednesday

  6. August 6, 2014 / 12:15 pm

    Really good informative post – I found morning sickness really hard to deal with, cannot imagine dealing with HG for a whole pregnancy. x
    Jenna Richards recently posted…Wicked Wednesdays #3My Profile

  7. rachel
    August 6, 2014 / 4:55 pm

    as a sufferer in the early 1990’s and then as the mother who had to look after her daughter until she has her beautiful baby in april 2014, i can say its the hardest thng to cope with and to watch.

    my daughter was in hospital 16 times, twice i really thought she would die, i begged daily for help for her and even began to spot the signs that she would need admission and would head to hospital knowing it might take them 6 hours before they admitted her ad started rehydration and treatment.

    she was so bad i doubt she will ever go through it again as the chances are she will get HG again.

  8. August 6, 2014 / 6:42 pm

    I had 2 HG pregnancies. It took me 5 years to summon the mental strength to go through it a 2nd time, purely because of how difficult it was to get help & deal with the judgement I received 1st time around, as well as coping with the condition itself for the full 9 months.

    I’m sad to say that in those 5 years, nothing much had changed in terms of awareness of the condition, even among the medical professionals. Because I began my pregnancy overweight, they saw my weight loss as a good thing – even when I lost a stone in a week, even after 2 hospital admissions, even when I was taking 4 different drugs every day & was still throwing up blood because I’d torn my oesophagus. They continued to weigh me & tell me to “watch what I was eating” throughout.

    So thank you for writing this. Anything we can do to raise awareness & debunk the myths is a good thing. I won’t be going through it again but maybe in another 5 years, someone else will be better treated as a result of your work.
    Lucy recently posted…Pimp my FilofaxMy Profile

  9. August 7, 2014 / 3:57 pm

    I actually just cried as I read this. I was so sick throughout my pregnancy and even the days when I wasn’t physically sick I felt totally drained and could barely muster the energy to get out of bed. Nobody not even my own family understood what I was going through. I have always had a low pain threshold and occasionally called a hypochondriac as a child but this wasn’t normal morning sickness. I was admitted at 14 weeks with dehydration and put on a drip, I cried myself to sleep thinking about my baby and how this would be affecting him. I racked up endless days off work and most days couldn’t make it past 10am without having to go home to bed. I didn’t get that pregnancy ‘glow’, I felt hurt that I couldn’t have a beautiful pregnancy and with my labour ending in an emergency c-section which was terrifying I felt so angry that I had to go through all that.

    2 years on with an incredibly healthy little boy I want to try for another baby but I am terrified of it happening all over again, I can’t cope with another 9 months of people telling me to ‘suck it up’ or throw pointless suggestions and old wives tales my way!

    Thank you for an amazing post and I will definitely do some research into support incase it happens again!
    Jade Pirard (Late For Reality) recently posted…Ted’s First Build-A-Bear!My Profile

  10. emma kinsey
    October 20, 2014 / 4:09 pm

    i am a sufferer of hyperemesis in my 3 pregnancies and it is the most awful illness you cant even sip water without being sick and you cannot move all day i had to be put on drips all through my pregnancy as i was so dehydrated this is not normal morning sickness you lose so much weight and so much energy

  11. October 20, 2014 / 8:31 pm

    Great post, I suffered with HG when I was pregnant and it was horrendous, there really does need to be more support and understanding out there!
    Baby Chaos recently posted…A few difficult weeksMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.