Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Archive for the ‘hyperemesis’ Category

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

Guest blog by Susan Quayle

I became interested in reflexology about fifteen years ago when I bought Laura Norman’s book, The Reflexology Handbook: A Complete Guide. At the time my sister-in-law was pregnant and had morning sickness so badly that she was bed ridden and under threat of hospitalisation. I got my book out and looked up morning sickness in the back and worked the reflexes it showed – having no real idea of what I was doing – and the result was instantaneous. She felt much better than she had for weeks.

It would be a further twelve years before I would work on feet again but this time it would be to train as a reflexologist. About a year after I’d qualified I received an email asking if I would be interested in attending a course in Maternity Reflexology. By this time I’d had two children and was the bearer of double C-section scars so was very interested in what maternity reflexology could offer the pregnant woman. I went along to the course expecting something amazing but not  really prepared for the actuality of how utterly brilliant reflexology is for pregnancy and labour. I came away thinking that Maternity Units were crazy not to have maternity reflexologists working alongside midwives or midwives trained as maternity reflexologists.

Reflexology is fabulous for for everyone but is utterly perfect for pregnancy and labour. They really go together like, like….mother and baby!

Apart from the very serious conditions that are potentially life threatening to mother and/or baby there isn’t a pregnancy related condition that can’t be alleviated and, more impressively, prevented with reflexology. Because pregnancy isn’t an illness but a temporary condition the usual parameters relating to conditions such as oedema, constipation and other digestive related problems, even gestational diabetes, are different from at any other time and if caught in time respond extremely well to reflexology. I say caught in time because some conditions such as oedema need to be treated early as they worsen on a daily basis.

During a treatment mums drift off into deep relaxation, babies squirm excitedly before relaxing with mum into a blissful baby/mummy zone of bonding. During this relaxation blood pressure reduces, energy is restored and reserved, anxiety levels drop and a sense of self and safety permeates the body. Reflexes are worked to balance the internal organs and systems of the body and allow the free flow of blood and energy to every cell of their being. I am always amazed at how early in pregnancy it is possible to feel the subtle changes that take place in the mother’s body – usually the liver and spleen reflexes as the volume of blood increases to produce the growing baby’s blood supply.

I have had many successes with morning sickness, heartburn and fatigue, SPD, constipation, reducing blood pressure, oedema, early onset labour (this treatment was to stop labour at 33 weeks), re-starting labour 5 hours after it had stopped, lack of sleep, discomfort, positive mental attitude toward the growing baby and also toward the mother’s own body image. Regular treatments can also result in a faster labour with less need for pain relief – studies have been done to back up these claims. Women I have treated with regular treatments feel very in touch with their babies and their pregnancies, they tend to say that their labour was easier than previous ones and that they felt more relaxed about the whole experience. They also say that their babies are very relaxed and laid back and that both mother and baby have found breast feeding much easier than in previous births. Reflexology promotes healthy pregnancies, healthy mothers, faster births often with less need for pain relief, happy mothers and happy babies.

I often feel great sadness that I didn’t know about maternity reflexology when I was pregnant as both my birth experiences were over-medicalised and with the use of reflexology might not have been. So this is the message that needs to get out there to all pregnant women – there is help out there to complement and work alongside normal medical practices. You are not ill – you are pregnant and you are doing what your body was made to do. Reflexology can help you to have a happy, healthy pregnancy and baby.

Susan Quayle is a Complementary Therapist based at the Exeter Natural Health Centre in Devon. She is a founder member of Maternity Reflexology South West who work tirelessly to promote maternity reflexology. She lives with her husband, two children, cat and chickens.

To find out more about her visit her website at http://www.lovereflexology.co.uk


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