Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (Pregnancy Sickness)

Posted on: February 5, 2012

I am very grateful for this Guest Blog about Hyperemesis Gravidarum or Pregnancy Sickness written by Amanda.  Amanda’s contact details are at the end of the article.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

So, what is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

Most people accept that Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy (NVP) or “Morning Sickness” is just part and parcel of pregnancy. However very few people are aware of just how bad this can be and that Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) even exists.

HG is an extreme form of NVP and is more like having a stomach flu or food poisoning for months on end rather than the occasional moments of nausea and odd vomiting session experienced by most expectant mothers. 

There are many different levels of HG and sufferers range from those who consider it to be “mild”, perhaps battling nausea and vomiting at home right through to those with “severe” HG which has them in and out of hospital throughout their entire pregnancy. Thankfully HG is not the killer that it once could be here in the UK but awareness and compassion from both society and the medical profession is extremely limited. This means that not only does a woman with HG suffer through the worst sickness imaginable, but she does so while having to fight just for the support she needs.

It is often difficult to get a diagnosis and treatment for HG and many doctors are reluctant to prescribe medication until a woman is dehydrated enough to require hospitalisation. And yet many HG survivors who have gone on to have subsequent pregnancies have found that early and aggressive treatment with anti-emetics and IV hydration can limit the severity of their symptoms and make HG much more tolerable, if not necessarily easy.

There are so many symptoms that may suggest a woman has HG, and a whole list of them can be found on the HelpHer website here. However, it is most women’s experience that there has to be a significant loss of body weight and ketones in the urine before their GP or midwife will realise how severe the sickness is.

It is all too common for HG sufferers to be told everything from, “have you tried ginger?” to “this is normal, just get on with it”. A woman suffering from that level of sickness may be too weak to fight for what she needs and often needs an advocate. Yet when facing HG, especially the first time round, it can be all too easy to feel there is nothing you can do and that you just have to accept what the doctor says. In fact it can be far too easy to believe that it really is normal and you are just weak, leading to depression and isolation at how ill you feel and how unable you are to cope with what you believe every other pregnant woman deals with easily.

Which leads to the fact that many HG sufferers not only deal with the physical effects of the condition but can also become very isolated, depressed and even go on to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). And the emotional effects of HG can last far beyond the pregnancy itself, even affecting the woman’s decision of whether to face further pregnancies or not. 

Finally, we must not forget the extremely stressful and painful experience that the woman’s partner, parents, siblings and other children go through every single day that she is sick. They can become as isolated and vulnerable as the pregnant woman herself and yet they are so often overlooked even if the woman herself manages to get the treatment she needs.

This is just a very basic overview of what is a complicated and extremely traumatic condition that can ruin what should be one of the most wonderful times in a mother’s life. I cannot possibly do the topic justice on just one page of my blog and so I would like to now draw your attention to some of the most resourceful sites on the web dedicated to this condition before sharing my own personal experience of HG with you and what it has inspired me to work on now my pregnancy is over.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Resources on the Web

HelpHer – Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation

The HelpHer website is full of fantastic information for mothers, partners, medical professionals, and the media. It was the most helpful resource I found during my pregnancy and the forums are particularly helpful and supportive both whilst in the midst of HG and afterwards.  

Pregnancy Sickness Support UK

Pregnancy Sickness Support UK is a charity that hopes to offer a support network for HG sufferers and raise awareness of the condition here in the UK. I only found the site after my pregnancy was over but I would sincerely recommend checking it out.

Motherisk

Motherisk is based in Canada and has huge amounts of research available to read online into many different facets of pregnancy that HG sufferers will find interesting, include research into the effectiveness and safety of drugs during pregnancy.

http://amandaclairedesigns.typepad.com/amanda-claire-designs/hperemesis-gravidarum.html

Twitter: @amandaspatch

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7 Responses to "Hyperemesis Gravidarum (Pregnancy Sickness)"

I suffered so badly with my last three pregnancies, i found doctors hugely uninterested. It really can be a living hell. Thank you for posting!

Thank you Valerie for posting this and thank you Molly for taking the time to leave a comment. I am so sorry you had to face HG three times round.

This pregnancy it all stopped by 16 weeks so i can not complain too much 🙂

According to fertility experts most women suffer from dizziness in pregnancy during their first trimester. But of course, do not be surprised if you feel same lightheadedness on your third trimester. Your uterus continues to expand during this trimester and pressure applies on blood vessels. Do not lie on your back because the infant might start putting pressure on your vena cava (a large vein that carries blood from your lower extremities to the heart). Make sure you lie on your side.

hi…. am going through this. i was diognised with hg around week 3 and now am 28 weeks. i no i am depressed as i feel being 21 i have gone through so much in the last 6 months, i dont think i would be able to cope. i want to give my baby a healthy diet during pregnancy but have not been able to. i have been hospitalised twice being dehydrated. i really wanted this baby but not enjoyed a mintue of this pregnancy. every waking moment has been hell these 28 weeks. and theres no sign i would be better in coming weeks.

Hi Sam, I too am so sorry to hear what you’ve been going through. Depression is a common condition amongst women who are going through a difficult pregnancy. Are you on any medication now? If you’re in the UK the charity Pregnancy Sickness Support is a great source of information and support. They also have a support network of volunteers (women who have been through it and know just how awful it can be) and an online support group on Facebook. Support can make a real difference, so it is well worth asking your GP or midwife about therapy too (either now or pistnatally) I do hope you find some support to deal with all you’ve been through and ?o help you get through the rest of your pregnancy.

Hi Sam I am so sorry to hear how hard the pregnancy has been. I suggest you try looking at http://www.helpher.org/

It may be worth looking at homeopathy, acupuncture, acupressure, hypnosis and diet (if you are able) but I have also heard good things about Vitamin B6.

Also have a look at http://spewingmummy.blogspot.co.uk/

Please let us know how you get on.

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