I recently stumbled across a very useful resource, for mums who are going through pregnancy sickness or perhaps contemplating a second or third pregnancy and dreading the thought of being effected once again. I feel very, very, fortunate to never have experienced it to any troublesome degree - otherwise there might never have been 6 children! But I do hear from so many ladies in the studio how badly they have been effected by sickness. So I thought it would be useful to introduce you all to Caitlin Dean, who runs Pregnancy Sickness Support. PSS, is a registered UK charity working to improve care, treatment and support for women suffering from Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy (NVP) and the severe form of the condition; Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). If you aren't suffering it, or have not suffered HG before you may have heard the proper term for severe morning sickness being referred to in the news when HRH Duchess of Cambridge had to be admitted to hospital in the early weeks of her pregnancy with HRH Prince George of Cambridge. I'll hand over to Caitlin now who will explain a little more about what the marvellous charity does to offer support to women.
When is Morning Sickness something more serious?
Before we have children of our own many of us look forward to pregnancy and, while we expect a bit of “morning sickness” to be vaguely unpleasant, we generally expect to enjoy the experience of pregnancy... growing a baby inside us... it's like a super power right? Even the morning sickness we expect to embrace as a right of passage - a life experience to clock up and a welcome reminder of the precious life growing inside.
For some women the dream of a happy glowing pregnancy is rapidly replaced with a living nightmare with 24/7 nausea and near continuous vomiting. And on top of the physical battle of keeping much needed food and fluid down they have the utter disappointment to contend with of lost hopes of a normal pregnancy, the miserable isolation of being bed-bound for weeks on end, the guilt from misinformation about supposed risks of medication in pregnancy and the cruel misunderstanding of how ill they really are from people around them. These women have a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) and it needs treatment.
And then there is a whole group of ladies who fall somewhere in between. Who suffer greatly, particularly with nausea, but they manage to get to work and keep enough food and fluid down to stay out of hospital.
So how do you know what is normal and what isn't? And if what you are experiencing isn't normal then what can you do about it?
Normal pregnancy sickness is sporadic and although it can occur any time of day it doesn't usually last all day. Eating small amounts regularly will probably help and resting when you feel sick will help too. It may feel grim when you're nauseous but you're unlikely to lose weight or need time off work to cope. It will probably pass at 12-14 weeks and hopefully you'll go on to enjoy the rest of the pregnancy. This is the vast majority of women's experience.
For about 30% of women though symptoms may be more severe, with nausea for large parts of the day and vomiting a couple of times a day (which for 3-4 days may seem tolerable but for weeks on end is highly unpleasant). Chances are if you're thinking “Wow, this pregnancy sickness is way worse than I was expecting” than you're probably in this category. For some of these women is you're able to alter your eating to nibbling tiny amounts constantly, finding fluids that stay down and if your able to take time off work to rest then your symptoms may be manageable at that. But if they're significantly interfering with you ability to look after yourself and your home and you're really getting miserable with it then ask for help! There are a number of basic medications that have been found to be safe and effective in early pregnancy and starting them as soon as symptoms are getting out of hand could prevent you deteriorating into the more serious condition of hyperemesis gravidarum...
So if you're wondering if you've got hyperemesis gravidarum then you probably have! If you're vomiting more than 5 times most days and/or your nausea is so constant and overwhelming that you aren't able to eat or drink then you've got hyperemesis and you need to get treatment. In the past hyperemesis was a leading cause of death in early pregnancy but thanks to modern treatments like anti-emetics and IV fluids it's survivable these days. Signs of dehydration to watch for is not weeing for over 8 hours or your wee being dark and small amounts, a dry mouth and skin, dizziness and/or confusion.
Unfortunately help, even in our modern day, can be hard to find as prejudices and misunderstandings about the condition abound. Doctors can be reluctant to prescribe because of misplaced fears over taking medication in pregnancy and family and friends can mistake your symptoms for those of normal “morning sickness”. They may suggest ginger for your symptoms and you'll likely feel even more isolated every time you hear it.
But you are not alone... Pregnancy Sickness Support is a national charity which has a peer support network. You can call their helpline for information about medications and treatments and how to seek help and you can be matched with a local volunteer who has been through the same experience you are going through. Support is often via text or email as many women with HG find talking difficult and there is an online forum you can join to connect with hundred of other women going through the same pregnancy experience as you.
My book Hyperemesis Gravidarum – The Definitive Guide is available as paperback or kindle/e-book and is a wealth of knowledge about the condition from treatment plans, and self help to trying again and recovering physically and mentally from the condition. You can also follow my blog Spewing Mummy for more support and a slightly lighter hearted journey into the condition and all it's facets.
You can follow Spewing Mummy at:
twitter: @SpewingMummy or
And you can follow Pregnancy Sickness Support at:
Twitter: @HGSupportUK or