Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)
For the majority of women, pregnancy is normal. You may suffer from some morning sickness, back pain and other pregnancy symptoms. For many women pregnancy is even a joy. However, some women experience a condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). In extremely simple terms, HG is excessive nausea and vomiting in pregnancy; think of it as 24/7 food poisoning, but going on for months (sometimes the whole pregnancy). This has become a bit more known to the general public since autumn 2012 when the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to hospital in the very early stages of her pregnancy with Prince George suffering from HG, and also when she suffered again during her second pregnancy with princess Charlotte. When it was announced that the Duchess was expecting baby number three and yet again suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, I was not the least surprised.
While I am very sad for the Duchess of Cambridge having suffered from HG, I am in some ways grateful as it has brought attention to HG to the general public. When I was pregnant with my son, I found people less dismissive of me and less of ‘it’s all in your head’ compared to when I was pregnant with my daughter in 2008/9. Instead, I heard many comments relating to the Duchess of Cambridge and I think to some people, the fact that she suffered from it, helped validate HG to some degree.
What makes HG even more complicated is that for a woman who is pregnant for the first time it is very hard to know what is normal, and when is it not normal anymore.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for HG and nobody knows exactly why some women suffer from it. This is usually a debilitating and isolating illness, and even more so at a time when you ‘should’ be happy and glowing. Many can’t go about their daily lives. I couldn’t even open my eyes without vomiting; the actual movement of my eyes made me vomit. I was barely 7 stone/ca 44 kilos at 10 weeks pregnant with my daughter when I collapsed and had to be admitted to hospital the first time.
An HG sufferer may well end up in hospital on a drip, and often have to go on medication during part of or during the whole pregnancy. Many HG sufferers also develop pregnancy depression as a result, and it is quite common for them to get postnatal depression. That happened to me.
The important thing to remember is that HG is NOT normal morning sickness and usually nothing works other than medication. Some have been helped by acupuncture, but many are too ill to be able to even leave the house. HG often runs in families (but sometimes skips a generation as in my case).
As someone who suffered horribly and was in and out of hospital with HG, I know all too well what it is like. Below are some links relating to HG that I found very helpful.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum Research were amazing to me during another pregnancy, and so supportive!
A book I found extremely helpful Beyond Morning Sickness; mostly to know I wasn’t alone in suffering and that the feelings I experienced were normal for someone suffering from HG. This book also helped me a lot in preparation for starting to think about the possibility of trying for a second child.
The book Mama Has Hyperemesis Gravidarum (but Only for a While) can be useful for parents helping children deal with their mummy being ill. I found this book very helpful to read to my daughter. She even brought it to school when I was hospitalised when pregnant with my boy. They read it and talked about it in school.
For anyone who is suffering or who has suffered, remember: you are not alone! If you are suffering and would like support, please feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be very happy to listen and to help you in any way I can!