Based in Cornwall, UK, Spewing Mummy is a blog by
Caitlin Dean.
Her posts explore the trials and tribulations of suffering with  Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) 
aka Extreme Pregnancy Sickness.

Preparing emotionally for HG

Preparing emotionally for HG

In the third of my series about preparing for hyperemesis gravidarum I'm going to discuss what emotional preparations you can make in advance of an HG pregnancy and tips for those of you considering, or embarking on, another pregnancy based on what worked for me with my third.

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Women who have never had hyperemesis gravidarum before (whether or not they've been pregnant before) and have no family history of HG, have a 1-2% chance of suffering it in pregnancy; that's the base line rate in the population. Admittedly plenty more will suffer severe nausea and vomiting in pregnancy or undiagnosed HG, but the current rate within pregnant women is 1-2%. Unlike “normal morning sickness” which can vary greatly from pregnancy to pregnancy, women who have suffered hyperemesis gravidarum before have an 86% chance of suffering again.

People who have never suffered are likely to try to look on the positive and insist that if you think positively you'll fall in that 14% chance of not suffering. But as “thinking negatively” is known definitely not to be the cause and most women enter their first pregnancy excited and certainly not expecting it, we know that no amount of positive thinking will prevent it. Furthermore, pretending like it's not going to happen and just waiting to see could in fact be harmful and cause more suffering than if you had planned and prepared carefully.

I firmly believe that embracing the fact you are likely to get sick, potentially sicker than before, and planning emotionally in advance can significantly reduce the overall severity and reduce the mental health toll HG inevitably takes on the sufferer. Feeling “out of control” is a commonly reported distressing symptom for sufferers, which, particularly in the first pregnancy is understandable as the vomiting, often sudden and violent seems to be the thing in control of every part of you body. On top of that the condition can seem to send you whole life into free-fall. Time off work, admissions to hospital, inability to look after yourself let alone your household or children and the financial impact all that has. Women find they can't even speak for themselves, they can loss control of their bladder, having to take unwanted medication and every other aspect of their life seem to be lost to HG.

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And ironically, pregnancy is a time of life when we want total control over our bodies, we want to be able to avoid smoking, alcohol, GM products, medications, bad moods and anything else deemed potentially harmful to developing foetus's by every man and his dog. We are encouraged by the mass pregnancy media producing over-priced magazines designed to encourage yet more consumerism and stress that our bodies are temples housing precious royal goods and that pregnancy should be natural, happy and oozing with glowy stuff.

Of course for the HG sufferer it's anything but... it's full of spew, medication and misery. It's generally considered the worst time of a sufferers whole life!

So, how can we prepare emotionally? Well, by preparing physically, like I talked about in previous posts for medications and practical considerations, you're making a good start with the process of embracing what's to come. Don't shy away from it. Grab the bull by the horns and tame the that beast. Accept that no matter what medication you use to suppress the symptoms to a “manageable” level, you are still going to have a horrendous nine months. So prepare for that:

  • Buy yourself a set of sick bowls

  • Make yourself a 'going out' sick kit, unscented wipes, sick bags, tissues, gum or lemon drops etc.

  • Load up your iPod with some audio-books, download some easy apps like solitaire

  • Buy yourself some comfy maternity pyjama's

  • If your back sufferers from the long hours in bed then can you afford a new mattress? I got a memory foam one before my third pregnancy and it really helped relieve the pressure areas and hip pain.

  • Perhaps a new pillow or bed sheets?

  • Accept that you're likely to wee when you spew (it starts earlier each pregnancy!) and get yourself some pads in advance.

There are links for some of the above items on my HG Shop page so check it out.

The other major aspect of preparing mentally and emotionally for hyperemesis gravidarum is to build up your support network in advance. In particular, join the Pregnancy Sickness Support forum and 'meet' lots of other women at the planning and preparation stage like you. Although the charity can't match sufferers with volunteers until they are actually pregnant (due to a lack of resources) you can get make a start yourself through the forum. The HER Foundation also have a forum for the USA although I would warn you all now to be wary of some of the nutty groups on Facebook which advocate all sorts of wacky ways to “prevent” HG. Also, please don't be wasting your money on nonsense treatment plans claiming to cure HG... they are not based on science and have no evidence for safety or efficiency behind them.

Our book Hyperemesis Gravidarum – The Definitive Guide is out in September and is packed full of the info you need to survive and, hopefully, thrive through the long nine months of an HG pregnancy. You can sign up for an email about it's release here.  

Bed bound for 9 long months

Bed bound for 9 long months

The positive pregnancy test

The positive pregnancy test