Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

This is a guest blog by Helen Potter.

There are several reasons why a woman may have a caesarean section. A planned section may be scheduled because of the position or health of the baby, the mother’s medical history or at her request if she has had a previous, traumatic vaginal birth. An emergency section usually occurs because complications have arisen during natural labour. A ceasarean section is a major operation that requires incisions through the abdomen and uterus and so the significant recovery period is well accepted by medical professionals and society in general. However, the emotional after effects of this type of birth remain less acknowledged and far less discussed. The silence and stigma surrounding mental health after a c-section can be detrimental to new mothers who’ve not only just been through major surgery, but now have a newborn baby to care for too. Here are just a few of the emotional issues that may arise following a c-section.

Shock

It’s extremely common for the body to go into shock immediately after the surgery is carried out. Many women report shaking from head to toe as medication from the epidural and affect the muscles. But further on into the recovery process many women experience delayed shock, especially when the c-section was carried out in emergency circumstances. They spend so long preparing for their labour, writing birth plans and building up expectations so when things don’t go to plan it can be a huge surprise. Using a debriefing service following a c-section can be a good way to come to terms with the experience and understand why it had to happen.

Guilt

A study carried out by Channel Mum found that one in five mothers said that opting for a ceasarean would mean that they’d ‘failed’ and with that sense of failure undoubtedly follows feelings of guilt. Outdated social views can lead to women believing that a drug-free, natural labour is the most honourable way to give birth. Some women even report that having a caesarean has made them to feel like less of a woman and less of a mother. Of course this is untrue and all that really matters in labour is that mother and baby both come through the process safely.

Post natal depression

Although all women who go through childbirth are at risk from postnatal depression, studies show that women who have an emergency caesarean are up to six times more likely to suffer from the condition. The longer recovery period and feelings of guilt, failure and lack of control over their own body are all thought to contribute to this, alongside the hormonal changes that all new mums face. It’ is important to speak to a health visitor or GP if you think you could be suffering from postnatal depression. Self help advice, medication and therapy can all help to alleviate the symptoms.

Trouble bonding

Some women report that they have struggled to bond with their babies following a caesarean section. There are several theories for this. Biologically, research indicates that they miss out on the release of the hormone oxytocin (otherwise known as the love hormone). Immediately after natural childbirth the release of this hormone is higher than ever and missing out it can impair the initial bonding process. In addition to this, skin to skin contact (vital for developing early closeness and bonding) is rarely possible straight after a c-section and in many cases the baby is taken away and checked over while the mother recovers. On a more practical level, the long recovery process can sometimes render a new mum unable to carry out day to day care of the child which can make her feel disengaged from her new baby.

Fear of future pregnancy

Sometimes all of these factors combined, along with the physical pain of a c-section, can make women so fearful of a repeat performance that they choose not to become pregnant again. Of course this can be a devastating choice for a woman who really wants another baby. After a c-section, the probability of a natural birth next time is good – research indicates 60-80% of women can potentially go on to have a vaginal birth after a ceasarean (VBAC). But there are risks and these, alongside the fear of another c-section, can be enough to put some women off for life. If you feel like this but still long to expand your family it is important to talk to your GP or debriefing service to familiarise yourself with all of the facts so that you can make an informed choice.

Citation Section

NHS Choices, Ceasarean section, accessed 25.02.16

Metro, Thousands of women with postnatal depression suffering in silence, accessed 25.02.16

The Royal College of Midwives, What is the purpose of debriefing women in the postnatal period, accessed 25.02.16

The Daily Mail, The women made to feel guilty because they didn’t have a ‘perfect’ drug free birth, accessed 25.02.16

NCBI, Increased risk of postnatal depression after emergency ceasarean section, accessed 25.02.16

Psychguides, Living with postpartum depression, accessed 25.02.16

Mail Online, Women who have ceasarean section ‘less likely to bond,’ accessed 25.02.16

Mayoclinic, Vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC), accessed 25.02.16

Pregnancy

“The condition of having a developing embryo or fetus in the body.”
“The process by which a human female carries a live offspring from conception until childbirth.”

Pregnancy is referred to as a gestation period – the time between conception and birth. Approximately 40 weeks (280 days). Measured from the first day of the last menstrual period. For women who use a procedure that allows them to know the exact date of conception (such as in-vitro fertilisation IVF, or artificial insemination) the gestation period is 38 weeks (266 days) from conception.

Pregnancy is divided into three stages – called trimesters, each lasting about 3 months.

An embryo is a multicellular diploid (has two sets of chromosomes) eukaryote (an organism whose cells contain complex structures enclosed within membranes) in its earliest stage of development; from the time of first cell division until birth. In humans, it is called an embryo until about eight weeks after fertilization (i.e. ten weeks after the last menstrual period or LMP), and from then it is instead called a fetus.
Embryo is the term used to describe the developing baby in the first 8 weeks and the term Fetus is the term used after 8 weeks until birth (when all the structure of the baby and systems of the body such as the digestive and nervous systems have developed).

Facts at 24 weeks
24 weeks is the legal cut off gestational age for a legal abortion (although abortions or terminations can be carried out later in the pregnancy on medical grounds).

COMPLICATIONS OF PREMATURE BIRTH
Babies born after 34 weeks have a low risk of problems although they are sometime slower to feed.
A baby born before 33 weeks will have more serious problems such as immature lungs.
Very premature babies (born under 28 weeks) need to be delivered in a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit.
Doctors have been able to improve dramatically the survival hopes for babies born as early as 22 or 23 weeks.
However, very premature babies face a huge battle at the start of life. They are at risk of serious conditions including:
* Hypothermia, due to lower levels of fat
* Low blood glucose, which can lead to brain damage
* Respiratory distress syndrome – which can cause blindness
* Brain haemorrhage
Long-term they may have cerebral palsy and have sight and hearing problems.
They are also more likely to have motor impairments and co-ordination and concentration problems.

Birth
Occurs at around 38 weeks after fertilization, so 40 weeks pregnant. Term is considered to be 37 – 42 weeks gestation. The fetus has developed enough to survive easily outside its mother’s body. Babies are usually born head first but occasionally are born breech.

http://www.babycentre.co.uk/v1027487/inside-pregnancy-weeks-28-37

There are a variety of birthing methods; the majority of babies are born by a natural vaginal birth but some labours might need help such as
Ventouse, Forceps, Caesarean section.

The process of natural birth involves what is known as “labour” the baby passing from the mother’s abdomen through the vaginal passage and into the world. There are three stages of labour:

Stage 1: The cervix has to open and stretch around the baby’s head until it is 10cm open.

Stage 2: The baby has to come out, either by the expulsive efforts of the uterus and the mother breathing the baby out, or by her actively pushing the baby out.

Stage 3: The placenta or afterbirth has to be expelled.

Linked blog posts:

https://midwifevalerie.wordpress.com/2008/12/07/so-you-are-pregnant-preparing-for-the-birth/
https://midwifevalerie.wordpress.com/2008/12/19/the-big-day-the-birth/

Guest blog written by Joanne Marie who is a qualified reflexology practitioner trained in maternity and baby reflexology.

Baby reflexology is a simple soothing treatment loved by parents and babies too. This relaxing fuss free treatment can be used anywhere and when combined with massage it is a real baby treat!

Reflexology is a natural complimentary therapy using finger and thumb pressure on points on the feet and hands that correspond to all parts of the body. The treatment is relaxing and calming for adults and babies alike, so if you love massage yourself or want to learn a simple, effective skill then take a look at Baby reflexology. This technique is a specially modified form of reflexology designed especially for babies, infants and toddlers.

Baby reflexology is a simple and enjoyable skill to help you and your baby manage day to day difficulties and common problems. It does not diagnose or treat illness and is not a replacement for medical care. Always consult your babies G.P. or your health visitor if you are concerned about their health.

Reflexology for babies and children was developed by a physiotherapist after 15 years of research into the effects of reflexology on children with asthma. They found that children were more relaxed and slept better and this helped them to better manage the problems associated with their asthma.

If you prefer using natural remedies for yourself and your family then reflexology for babies gives you a natural fuss free option. You just need to be able to touch your baby’s feet. You can use it at any time and in any place. In a restaurant, out shopping, visiting friends for a cuppa and a chat, at 4 a.m. in the morning!  Just about any time you need to help soothe and calm your baby.

Baby and infant reflexology and massage are beneficial for you and your baby in so many ways. Being a new mum can sometimes seem like a never ending cycle of feeding and dirty nappies. Massaging your baby gives you a time when you can relax and be together. Baby reflexology can help you to feel more confident caring for your baby and promote a sense of security and understanding for you both.  Baby reflexology is a lovely way to bond with your baby.  It’s not just for mums, I find that dads love learning baby reflexology and it’s a wonderful way to help them feel positive about their ability to soothe their baby.

It is never too early to start baby reflexology but beware your baby’s feet may be sensitive after their heel prick test at around 5 days old.  It can be enjoyed at almost any time but after their immunisations please wait 48 hours before doing reflexology.

A basic routine lasts only a few minutes and can be easily fitted into your day. It is best to practise at a time when you and your baby are feeling calm. You don’t need to lie your baby down, you just need to be able to comfortably hold and massage their feet.  I recommend using a solid balm for baby reflexology and massage as it’s much easier than risking spilling liquid oils. Bee balm works well, but if you are out and about you can still do reflexology with no oil or balm.

Here is a very basic routine to get you started.  You can learn specific techniques to meet your baby’s needs from a qualified instructor.

1: Hold both feet gently but steadily. Speak to your baby about what you are doing; this helps them to become familiar with the routine as they will learn to associate the word reflexology with the experience.  It also later allows your baby to refuse if they do not want reflexology at that time.

2: Rub the feet all over.  Long sweeping strokes work well, but you will find your own preferred method.

3: Glide your thumb or finger gently but firmly up the base of the foot from the heel to the base of each toe. These lines are the five zones of each foot.

 

4: Massage the tops of the feet from the toes to the ankles by rotating your thumb in circles moving across the foot. With smaller babies you may prefer to use the pad of your finger rather than your thumb.

5: Massage each toe in turn, circling the base of the toes and gliding down the front.

6: Massage the base of each foot using thumb circles. Move from the heel up to the toes until the whole foot area has been massaged.

7: Finish with a lovely rub all over the feet.

Your baby may want to kick their legs during the routine. This is fine; you don’t need to hold into their feet all the time and it’s better to let them kick. As they become familiar with the reflexology and how it feels they will start to remain a little stiller.

A few minutes of reflexology can be enough to be effective so please don’t worry if you baby only lets you do one or two techniques.  Gentle pressure is all you need, similar to wiping your baby’s skin clean.  Find a hold or cuddle that suits you and your baby, relax and enjoy.

Video showing baby reflexology techniques can be viewed here:

http://www.breathetherapy.co.uk/reflexology-for-babies/

Joanne Marie is a qualified reflexology practitioner trained in maternity and baby reflexology.  She manages and works as a therapist at Breathe Holistic Therapy Kidderminster.  DY115LB.  Joanne has a ten year old son who can regularly be heard asking his mum for reflexology!

www.breathetherapy.co.uk

 

 

Following the recent screening of “Freedom for Birth” a film documentary discussing the plight of maternity services and midwifery world-wide I have put together an Action Plan of ideas that you may like to consider to support the midwives and maternity services.  Please do as much as you can to make things better for women today and our daughters in the future.

ACTION PLAN

Please consider joining the following Facebook groups:

Independent Midwives UK

Fighting for Independent Midwives

The Birth I Want

ARM Conference 2012

One Born Every Minute—The Truth

One World Birth

Human Rights in Childbirth

Face of Birth

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Podpora-pro-%C3%81gnes-Ger%C3%A9b-Support-for-%C3%81gnes-Ger%C3%A9b/139577179421729?v=wall

Websites:

The Birth I Want:

http://www.thebirthiwant.org.uk

Register an Interest in Independent Midwifery at:

http://www.independentmidwives.org.uk/

The Association of Radical Midwives—Midwifery Matters:

http://www.midwifery.org.uk/

The Association for Improvement in Maternity

Services:

http://www.aims.org.uk/

The Face of Birth

www.faceofbirth.com

Sign the petitions:

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/amnesty-international-europe-amnesty-international-to-save-persecuted-midwives-in-europe?utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=4998292

http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/choice-for-mothers-to-be-saves-nhs-money

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/34513

 

View the short version of “Freedom for Birth” available November 2012

Write a letter of support for Agnes to President of Hungary, János Áder ugyfelkapu@keh.hu

 

On Thursday 20th September women (and men) around the world will be hosting film screenings to raise the profile of midwifery.  I am joining this event because I passionately believe that women are entitled to better maternity care.

Everyone in the UK knows that our maternity services are in crisis and indeed the Royal College of Midwives has strongly stated this.

I am planning to take a break from midwifery as I am totally burnt out … this is partly the demands of being on-call 24/7 for the past 8 years, but it is also due to the increasing scrutiny, red tape  and pressures on midwives.  I believe that most midwives do their very best for women.  Of course there are some rouge practitioners and the public needs to be protected against them, but the pressures on midwives are immense; more paperwork, more investigations of our practice, pressures of working with a system that is barely fit for purpose ….

At the same time Independent Midwifery, which gives “gold standard” care is set to become illegal unless an eleventh hour solution can be found to provide us with Professional Indemnity Insurance which will become mandatory from October 2013.

What will happen to these highly skilled midwives and the clients they currently care for?  I’m afraid that I feel ground down and beaten by all that is currently happening in midwifery … it is so sad, midwifery and childbirth has been my passion and my life for the past 20 years!

So, as my swan song to midwifery (for now at least) I am hosting this film showing in Milton Keynes and I hope this will serve to raise the profile of midwifery and to mobilise women to demand the service they deserve.

FREEDOM FOR BIRTH FILM SCREENING Thursday 20th September 2012 Two showings, 1pm and 7pm

The Bee House

Interchange House

Howard Way

Newport Pagnell

MK16 9PX

  • Entrance by donation – suggested donation £5 (Any profits to be donated to Midwifery Campaign)
  • Refreshments available at the venue
  • Birth related Exhibition and discussion after film showing

ALL WELCOME – please advertise widely! Please print and display the attached poster

For further information & to book a seat please email info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk

FREEDOM FOR BIRTH – GLOBAL FILM LAUNCHA new documentary that reframes childbirth as the most pressing global Human Rights issue today is launching with hundreds of premieres all over the world on the same day, Thursday 20th September 2012.

Freedom For Birth is a 60 minute campaigning documentary featuring a Who’s Who of leading birth experts and international Human Rights lawyers all calling for radical change to the world’s maternity systems.

Hermine Hayes-Klein, US lawyer and organiser of the recent Human Rights in Childbirth Conference at the Hague, the Netherlands says, “the way that childbirth is being managed in many countries around the world is deeply problematic. Millions of pregnant women are pushed into hospitals, pushed onto their back and cut open. They are subject to unnecessary pharmaceutical and surgical interventions that their care providers openly admit to imposing on them for reasons of finance and convenience. Women around the world are waking up to the fact that childbirth doesn’t have to be like this and it shouldn’t. Disrespect and abuse are not the necessary price of safety”.

Made by British filmmakers Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford, Freedom For Birth film tells the story of an Hungarian midwife Agnes Gereb who has been jailed for supporting women giving birth at home. One of the home birth mothers supported by Ms Gereb decided to take a stand.

When pregnant with her second child, Anna Ternovsky took her country to the European Court of Human Rights and won a landmark case that has major implications for childbirth around the world.

Toni Harman, one of the filmmakers says, “the Ternovsky vs Hungary ruling at the European Court of Human Rights in 2010 means that now in Europe, every birthing woman has the legal right to decide where and how she gives birth. And across the world, it means that if a woman feels like her Human Rights are being violated because her birth choices are not being fully supported, she could use the power of the law to protect those rights. With the release of “Freedom For Birth”, we hope millions of women become aware of their legal rights and so our film has the potential to spark a revolution in maternity care across the world. In fact, we are calling this the Mothers’ Revolution.”

Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), says: “A safe childbirth should be a fundamental human right for women. Sadly, for many, many millions of women and their babies across the world this is not the case. The world is desperately short of the people who can help to ensure and deliver this human right; midwives. There is a real need for leaders of nations to invest in midwifery care in their countries. I hope that the making of this film which the RCM is supporting with a screening will go a long way to help make skilled maternity care a reality for those women who currently do not have access to it.”

Lesley Page, President of the Royal College of Midwives adds, “Too many women across the world are dying or suffering terribly because of a lack of skilled maternity care. This is unacceptable and I call on all Governments across the world to give women the right and access to safe care in pregnancy and childbirth.”

Ms. Hayes-Klein concludes, “Freedom For Birth” holds the answer to changing the system. Birth will change when women realise they have a right to meaningful support for childbirth and claim that right. Birth will change when women stand up against the abuses that are currently suffered in such high numbers and say, No More.”

The filmmakers are aiming for 1,000 screenings happening across the world on Thursday 20th September, 2012. The countries with confirmed screenings include the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Denmark, Spain, Greece, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Poland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Belgium, Hungary, Israel, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Russia, USA, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Panama, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Philippines, China, South Africa and India.

Each screening is being organised by local birth campaigners.

Freedom For Birth is Harman and Wakeford’s third documentary film about birth. They were inspired to make films about following their own difficult birth of their daughter four years ago. A cascade of interventions in their birth led to an emergency caesarean section.

Contact Information:

Toni Harman, Producer/Director, Freedom For Birth info@altofilms.com +44 (0) 1273 747837

Optimal Fetal Positioning (OFP) – Encouraging your baby into the best position for birth.  How and why? (including quotes from local independent midwife Valerie Gommon)

The best position for birth is when the baby’s head is down and facing the mothers back and baby’s spine is to the left of your navel (known as left anterior/lateral position).  In this position the baby can pass most easily through the mothers pelvis.  This will ensure a quicker and easier delivery.

Towards the end of pregnancy it is advisable not to slump back on the sofa as gravity will encourage your baby’s  spine (the heaviest part of her body) to swing back towards yours!  Instead, remember the good posture you have worked so hard to develop during your pregnancy yoga classes!  This will gently tilt your pelvis forwards, as well as maximise the space your baby has to move around in.  Whenever possible lean forwards to rest e.g over a yoga ball, table or legs wide over a backwards facing chair.  As in our yoga classes, remember to use cushions to allow your hips to be level or higher than your knees when sitting.  Use cat pose when ever you have a moment.  Valerie also suggests: “getting  onto your hands and knees to wash the kitchen floor or play with your toddler!” or just enjoy moving with your breath!
Another suggestion is that you “lie on your left side on the sofa with your belly hanging slightly over the edge – a nice relaxing way of encouraging your baby into the best position!” (Valerie Gommon).
However, do keep things in perspective if hoping to turn your baby…be comfortable, stay active and above all enjoy your pregnancy.
Remember babies can decide to turn right up to the last minute and some babies are just happy where they are whatever plans you might have for them!!
Sarah Cooper.

Very sadly it looks fairly certain that Independent Midwifery will end in October 2013.  The Government and Nursing and Midwifery Council have for a long time been recommending that Independent Midwives should have professional indemnity insurance (negligence insurance) despite it not being commercially available in the marketplace i.e. insurers do not provide this insurance for midwives.  You can read more about the current situation here http://www.independentmidwives.org.uk/?node=11615

An E.U. Directive is now due to come into force to implement this change and our current information is that it will be illegal for us to practice without professional indemnity insurance from October 2013.  This means that women will be denied the choice of choosing an Independent Midwife and we will be denied the choice of working independently and will be forced to stop practising or to return into the NHS.

The Independent Midwives UK organisation has been working tirelessly for years to find a solution and it is just possible that an eleventh hour solution will be found but this is now looking unlikely.

A group of midwives have formed an organisation called Neighbourhood Midwives www.neighbourhoodmidwives.org.uk/ and are working towards setting up an employee-owned social enterprise organization, to provide an NHS commissioned caseload midwifery homebirth service, based in the local community.  This may prove to be a workable alternative to Independent Midwifery but at present (if it comes to fruition) the service will only be able to accept “low-risk” women and this is of concern to all of us who have supported women with more complex situations, for example first time mothers, vaginal birth after a previous caesarean, twins, breech birth and women who are not deemed “low risk”.  The aim of Neighbourhood Midwives will be to extend their remit to include more women as soon as possible.

There is already a precedent for this type of care as One to One Midwives in Liverpool www.onetoonemidwives.org have already managed to set up a caseloading midwifery service (similar to independent midwifery in that a woman will care for a caseload of women throughout the whole of the pregnancy, birth and postnatal period) within the NHS.

It is a very sad time for midwifery and for women’s choice, but perhaps good things will come out of it, I certainly hope so.

I was recently asked a question about painful stitches/perineum after childbirth  and thought it would be useful to share my reply.

I’m not so sure you were told all this! You *should* have been, but sometimes things get missed in the busy hurly burly of hospitals!
Okay, so the pain … I take it this is when you wee? This may well have passed by now? This can be eased by weeing in the bath or shower or by pouring water from a bottle of jug over yourself as you pass urine. The pain gradually lessens but it should already have started to improve. If it is getting worse then you definitely need to get your midwife to check you out.

Don’t know whether you have opened your bowels yet, or if this is what you are referring too? Women are naturally worried about the first time after stitches. I usually suggest that if a woman is anxious that she might like to support the perineum (the stitched area) with some toilet paper when she goes to the loo. This is mostly a psychological prop, but … if it works … it will be fine I promise! Just make sure you drink plenty of fluids (this will also help dilute the urine) and eat so that you don’t get constipated.

Regarding the bleeding, it is normal to bleed for several weeks after having a baby. Again, the bleeding quickly lessens and will often stop only to start again … it is not unusual to bleed on and off for somewhere between 2 – 6 weeks after having a baby.

Your midwife will be very happy to have a look at your stitches and will usually ask you if you are comfortable or not. If you are unsure definitely ask her to look as occasionally they can become infected and need treatment.

Hope you soon feel more comfortable … in the meantime enjoy your new baby.

Another Guest Blog from Sheila Sheppard, Nutritional Therapist.

We know that a baby is nourished in the womb not only by what its mother eats during pregnancy, but also by her body. It’s important, therefore, to be well nourished prior to, throughout and beyond pregnancy to protect your own health.

Here is just one example of how important it is for you to meet your baby’s nutritional needs as well as your own, throughout pregnancy and beyond.

Three weeks after conception, your baby’s brain begins to form, and continues to develop rapidly throughout your pregnancy. The brain is 60% fat and the two most important components are DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid from fish) and ARA (arachidonic acid, from meat, eggs and dairy). These fats are transferred across the placenta and are also present in human milk; they are accumulated in the brain and retina during foetal and infant development.

Most of us consume plenty of foods with ARA so this isn’t usually a worry, unless mum is vegetarian or vegan. Omega-3 is another matter though, as many people don’t eat any fish at all, or avoid oily fish such as salmon, pilchards, sardines, mackerel and tuna.

In her third trimester, the mother needs to eat foods rich in DHA: the placenta takes DHA from her blood and concentrates it in the baby’s circulation; the baby’s DHA level is now double his mother’s.  If she has low blood levels of DHA (because she’s not eating much – or any), DHA is also taken from the richest store – her own brain.  This may account for the slight shrinkage of women’s brain cells and the poor concentration experienced during late pregnancy. The baby continues to need DHA in his milk up to around 4 months and mum needs to keep up a steady intake to protect her own stores of DHA while making sure baby gets enough too.

Research shows that deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids in pregnancy and beyond is linked to post-natal depression, and to behavioural, learning and visual difficulties in children.

Oily fish is recommended 2-3 times per week, and if you can’t manage this then you should seek professional recommendation of a fish oil supplement with good levels of DHA; vegetarian DHA supplements are made from algae. You could also enjoy a regular serving of home made taramasalata (made from fish eggs), a recipe for this is on my website www.nutribaby.co.uk/recipes.php. If you’d like to know more about nutrition in pregnancy, for infants or for weaning, please get in touch.

 

Sheila Sheppard Dip NT, mBANT, CNHC

NutriBaby

Sheila@nutribaby.co.uk

07799 132999

16th April 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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