Living with Hyperemesis Gravidarum
This condition (also known as HG) only affects around 1% of pregnant women.
I don’t personally know anyone else who has gone through this, but I can tell you it is hell. It’s more than just nausea and vomiting (known as morning sickness). It is such a severe and debilitating condition.
With my first, I experienced it 24/7, and I suffered from six weeks until birth. I am currently pregnant with my second baby and started showing symptoms of HG at only five weeks.
What does it feel like? It feels like someone constantly has a tight grip around my throat which is such a horrible and uncomfortable feeling.
I couldn’t stand anything near my neck, or it would set me off even worse. This meant I couldn’t wear scarves, necklaces or anything with a collar/ hood. All my tops had to be low cut too, away from my neck, which is super hard in the cooler months. This condition truly affects all aspects of life.
I struggled to keep my job, and I even took sick days without pay. To be honest, I still don’t know how I made it through working on my feet all day until eight months. I dreaded leaving the house or going to events knowing I would spend the whole time scanning the room to ensure I knew where the bathroom was. Constantly calculating when the last time I ate was and when it was time to eat again (eating regularly helps even though you don’t feel like it) and stressing over what food might be served and if you will even be able to eat any of it.
I was embarrassed that I had to carry a plastic sick bag wherever I went. I was lucky to avoid a hospital stay because I could keep water down. But I was put on the strongest prescription medicine available, which was very expensive. Too often pregnancy is all about the baby but please remember about poor mum too, you just never know what she is going through.
My tips to help someone through HG:
Try to be patient and understanding. Everything needs to be done on their terms.
Don’t turn up unannounced at their house. And don’t call. A text message is best; they will get back to you when it suits them. Getting up quickly is one of the worse things for HG.
Don’t bring food over unless you have checked what they can tolerate. The list of what they can tolerate will be a lot shorter than what they can’t tolerate.
Watch out for their mental health and make sure they have someone they can talk to or seek help from a professional. This condition is so draining and isolating.
If you know your friend has HG don’t share scary experiences or go over the top sharing how much you loved being pregnant and that you wish you could be pregnant forever. Yes, somebody actually said that to me while I was suffering HG. I also had a huge list of other complications and got comments like ‘oh your belly is too small, is everything ok?’ Just stop! Tell them they look good or say nothing at all!
To any Mums out there with HG right now, I hope you are getting the support you need and the care you deserve. If not, ask for help and don’t be afraid to tell people no. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to feel and most importantly heal. Although this feels like such a long and impossible journey, you will get through this and eventually start to feel human again. Lots of love.