By Jenni Ellermann
Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is a complication in pregnancy which causes severe nausea and vomiting and can lead to repeated hospitalisations. HG is believed to affect about 1% of women when they are pregnant.
Amy, from North Somerset, is 25 and mum of Esmae, 2, . She suffered with HG whilst pregnant and explains the effect is had on her, her partner and their plans for having any more children.
VFTS: Can you describe your HG experience, did it stop at X number of weeks or get better?
“I was twenty two and I thought I had the most horrendous stomach bug ever. After a week of constantly being sick I decided I would take a pregnancy test (even though I was on the contraceptive pill and my partner and I weren’t trying for a baby) To my shock the test was positive and the doctor later confirmed I was about 5 weeks pregnant.
“After I had gotten over the initial shock and sudden rush of emotions I felt, I instantly thought about the morning sickness and how I prayed it would only last a few weeks, I was in for a big shock!
“Up until 18 weeks I was being sick every day and almost every hour. Some days were better than others, but I didn’t have a ‘good day’
“I went back and forth to the doctors several times for different medications to try and help, at one point I was taking seven tablets a day!
“I ended up being hospitalised twice at about 16 weeks after calling a doctor out for a home visit as I couldn’t even get out of bed. I felt like a fraud taking up a hospital bed on the maternity unit when I wasn’t even showing yet but I stayed there for four days on my first visit and five on my second.
“This is when I was told it was HG and not just morning sickness! The sickness subsided by twenty weeks but I constantly felt nauseous up until about 28 weeks, then I had the odd day.”
VFTS: What was the worst thing about HG?
“The worst thing about HG is the worry. No matter how many times people tell you that your baby will be okay, the hair you’ve lost will come back, your teeth will strengthen once the babies born, along with hundreds of other words of reassurance, it doesn’t make it any better.”
VFTS: Did you have any treatment, and did any of the treatments work?
“None of the medication prescribed by the GP worked, in fact some of them made the HG worse. This was a long storm that I had to unfortunately ride out.”
VFTS: How were Health Care Professionals towards you when you had HG?
“It took a long time for the GP to take me seriously and realise I wasn’t being an over dramatic expectant mother but instead I was crying out for help because I was at my wits end. Until I was admitted to the hospital, the majority of the health care professionals I came across didn’t have much knowledge of HG themselves!”
VFTS: Did you have to take any time off work? Was your employer supportive?
“I took a lot of time off throughout my pregnancy as I wasn’t fit to work. My partner and I had planned not to tell anybody we were expecting until the 12 week scan but at 8 weeks I was suffering so much I had to tell my manager, who then set up a support plan for me. This was carried out throughout the whole time I was at work.”
VFTS: How was the support of family/friends?
“At first a lot of people didn’t understand why I was ‘making such a fuss’ Everybody was extremely quick to give their opinion, advice and tell me what I should and shouldn’t be doing. I lost count the number of times I got told ‘pregnancy isn’t an illness so you need to just get on with it’
“When I was told I had HG things did improve and I could start to educate myself better on HG, therefore helping others around me to understand.
“At the time there was no support given to my partner in his time of need. I feel that the men often get forgotten about when really they need as much guidance as us women, then hopefully they would understand our needs more.”
VFTS: What was the best piece of advice you were given?
Take each day as it comes and don’t think about tomorrow until it’s here.
VFTS: What was the worst piece of advice you were given?
Act like nothing has changed and get on with it.
VFTS: Do you access any support though Pregnancy Sickness Support?
“I didn’t know about Pregnancy Sickness Support when I was pregnant and suffering with HG. In all honestly I couldn’t even look at my phone half of the time without seeing double.”
VFTS: Do you feel like you ‘missed out’ on pregnancy because of HG?
“I definitely feel like having HG took the enjoyment out of parts of my pregnancy, but I wouldn’t say I missed out. If I had that time back I would do things a lot differently to maximise the enjoyment of being pregnant and to embrace it more.”
VFTS: What were your thoughts on having any more children when you were pregnant?
“No never EVER again! I couldn’t imagine wanting to go through this again, so I had talked myself into not wanting any more children.
“After my daughter was born I thought I would forget about HG, almost like people say you will forget about the pain of childbirth, but I couldn’t. Esmae was worth every second of suffering but I kept thinking how I would cope looking after another child whilst having HG, let alone myself.”
How do you feel about more children now?
Esmae is nearly 2 now and after those 2 years of thinking repeatedly about whether another baby is what we really want or not, we have decided to have another. My heart aches for another child but my head is telling me no! Do I let HG rule my life and live in possible regret forever? Or do I bite the bullet and go for what my heart really desires. I chose the latter!
Has having to think about HG changed the age gap you would like for your children? And if so what effect has it had?
“Definitely! I initially wanted a gap of about two years, but that soon changed when I realised I probably wouldn’t be able to ‘care appropriately’ for a two year old whilst having HG. We have decided to have a 3.5 year age gap approx so that Esmae will be at preschool and be a little older therefore more understanding.”
What are you doing to prepare for your next pregnancy?
“We have planned to see the GP early 2016 to discuss a plan of action for if I suffer with HG again. I’m going to make sure it’s noted in all my medical records and access every single bit of medical help possible! I’ve been reading a lot of articles, books, looking on forums etc so I’m hoping to be more knowledgeable from the start.”
What will you do differently next time?
“Accepting help is the main thing for me. Asking people for help does not mean you are a failure or weak, it just means you are trying to make the best out of the situation. I will also tell close family and friends that I am pregnant earlier than 12 weeks so I don’t have to suffer in silence for three long months.”
How do you feel your next pregnancy will be? Better or worse in terms of HG?
“I’m trying not to think about it, Nobody can know which way it will go. I don’t want to get my hopes up but at the same time I don’t want to be filled with doom and gloom and start to dread my pregnancy before I’m even pregnant. I’m trying to stay realistic and look forward to becoming a family of four!”
- If you need any more information about HG you can visit the Pregnancy Sickness Support Website which is a charity set up to help support women who are affected by severe nausea and vomiting and HG during pregnancy.