PSS Volunteers - Rachel Hawthorne
Rachel Hawthorne - PSS Volunteer
I've suffered severely with HG myself several times and know all too well the devastating impact of both the physical and mental symptoms. I believe HG changes a woman. Surviving it requires finding great inner strength and it leaves an emotional scar that only another sufferer understands.
I began volunteering for PSS after having my daughter, Mollie, 4 years ago. I decided that I wanted to turn my awful experience of pregnancy into something positive for myself and others. I wanted to help support other women, to reassure them that they don't have to go through this alone and to raise awareness of the condition, so that sufferers receive better treatment by all.
It is heartbreaking when I hear women I support who are lonely, frustrated and at rock bottom, at a time when they should be able to feel their happiest. To be able to help them through such a dark time by giving them words of encouragement, a shoulder to cry on and access to accurate medical advice and research, gives me a huge sense of satisfaction. To reassure women that their precious baby can survive this ordeal and that there are safe medications that can help is so rewarding. The greatest reward of being a supporter for me, is hearing the wonderful news of the safe arrival of a tiny human being into our world. Hearing their name for the first time and seeing photos of those babies brings a tear to my eye, as I have had the privilege of being a small part of their battle to survive. That feeling is priceless.
In addition to one-to-one support, I was really pleased when Caitlin approached me to join the Hyperemesis steering group for Nottingham University Hospital Trust. Having been treated for HG myself many times at Nottingham's QMC, I was eager to work alongside some of the staff there to improve services and provision for women via their HG Day Unit and treatment guidelines. It's fantastic to see the hospital taking proactive steps to improving the treatment of pregnancy sickness and working with PSS and previous patients to ensure this is done successfully. I was pleased to take part in a press release to promote the hospital's developments and to raise awareness of HG. Talking about my personal experience of HG was emotional, but also therapeutic.
Since joining the steering group, I have used the new facilities myself whilst pregnant with my son, Oscar, who is now 10 mths old. The unit enables women with severe NVP and HG to access IV fluids, antiemetics and other medical treatment directly, as outpatients. It's great that several hospitals around the UK are now offering this service.
I hope to visit the local unit soon to discuss local fundraising opportunities and to look at any further improvements that can be made.
I really enjoy being part of the PSS team. It's great to find other women who share my passion for promoting awareness of HG within the medical sector and general public. The best part, for me, is believing that I may have helped a tiny life to grow and survive, by using my own experience to help other women fight this awful condition. I want to make sure research and education ensure provision for women with HG continues to improve in the future.
It can be emotional volunteering, especially when women are battling with mental health issues or when they feel so exhausted and desperate that they consider terminating their much-loved babies. It sometimes brings back painful memories for me. It's not always easy to know what to say, but my experience reminds me that just knowing you have someone there to listen and to empathise is incredibly important.
If you're reading this and thinking of volunteering then I would say please give it a try! You can make such a big difference to someone's life by doing something small. Every HG sufferer deserves to have someone to support them through their journey. Whether it's fundraising, peer-supporting or getting involved in research, you can become a valuable asset to a small team of passionate, dedicated, friendly volunteers. A team I feel proud to be a part of.
If you would like to register as a PSS volunteer or would like more information please click here