Well the Duchess had it now they all want it, and other ludicrous things people say
“It’s fashionable now the Duchess has had it, they all want it”
Oh yes, and if the Duchess broke her leg the mothers of Britain would head to the nearest play part and hurl themselves off the climbing frame to sport a matching plaster cast. Obviously.
“Oh I had that but I just got on with it, I didn’t have to go to hospital, I nibbled ginger biscuits”
It’s a bit like….
“You’ve just got out of hospital for puemonia? Oh for goodness sake… I had a cold the other day and I just drank some hot honey and lemon and bought those soft Kleenex with aloe vera… you should try that next time instead of IV antibiotics!”
“You shouldn’t take that medication while you’re pregnant… haven’t you heard of Thalidomide? Your baby will be deformed!”
And there was me thinking medical knowledge and research had moved on in the last 60 years. So while we’re in the process of eschewing all medical treatment in pregnancy, such as anti-biotics for life threatening infections, because once 60 years ago one drug caused a problem, lets also decline the other medical advances in the last 60 years… vaccinations, chemotherapy, safe anaesthetics, heart and brain surgery, the ability to not die from thousands of conditions… ya know all that stuff.
“Pregnancy isn’t an illness… you shouldn’t make such a fuss”
Yeah pregnancy isn’t an illness – it’s a whole other level of risk taking and death dicing for the sake of our drive to reproduce… Even now around the world an estimated 275,000 women killed each year in childbirth and pregnancy, although the vast majority of those are in the developing world today it’s really not that long since 1 in 20 women would die during pregnancy and childbirth. Hyperemesis gravidarum was the leading cause for early pregnancy deaths and there have been UK deaths from complications of hyperemesis gravidarum in the last 10 years.
“It’s harder on the poor men when their wives have hyperemesis gravidarum”
Find me a man who has witnessed his wife suffer this condition while carrying his offspring that agrees with this statement… go on, I dare you.
“Well I’ve never heard of it… it must be in your head”
Oh yeah cos you’ve heard of every medical condition to have ever been documented – what are you, wiki-fucking-pedia???
“Morning sickness is over at 12 weeks… it never lasts longer than that so you’re either some sort of freak or making it up”
Um, for the 1 millionth time, IT’S NOT MORNING SICKNESS, it’s sort of vaguely similar in that morning sickness is like a very very very mild version of hyperemesis gravidarum and 2 of the symptoms (nausea and vomiting) and cause (pregnancy) are common to both… like a cold is a very very very mild version of the flu, they share similar symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing and fever and both are caused by virus’s. Or like how spraining your ankle is like a very very very mild version of breaking your ankle, it shares pain in the ankle region as a common symptom and both are caused by injury to the area.
I am so proud of you all
In case you didn’t notice this week saw a vast amount of coverage in the mainstream press about hyperemesis and how women in the UK are being failed by misinformation and prejudice about the condition. It even made the front page of The Times. The press came about from the release of the report “I Couldn’t Survive Another Day” released by Pregnancy Sickness Support (PSS) and British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas), which I authored along with the wonderful Clare Murphy at bpas. It was a report of the findings from the survey which many of my readers took a couple of months ago via this blog and the results were overwhelming.
The process of analysing the survey results and writing the report was, frankly, harrowing. Although with my experience running the UK helpline for the condition they were also very representative of women’s experiences and so shedding public light on the issue has been valuable beyond belief. I am so, so proud of all the women who took part in the survey, who opened their hearts and discussed the most distressing part of their lives to date, who bared their heartache and grief so that women now and in the future would not have to make the most harrowing choices.
By taking part in that survey those women and their lost babies have helped make things better. We have raised more awareness and changed more opinions than I could have hoped for. Okay there has been a couple of anti-choice articles making out like women terminate due to “morning sickness” but the VAST majority of the coverage has explained exactly how horrendous hyperemesis gravidarum really is. They’ve describe the symptoms and risks in a sensitive and accurate way for, perhaps, the first time ever in the major broadsheets (who, even when explaining the Duchess’s condition underplayed the whole thing). They’ve sensitively approached the issue of medication and why it is being withheld and, personally, I’ve felt that the whole coverage has been an honour to the children whose potential for life was stolen by this horrendous condition.
Sadly, even this week on the helpline, despite the national mainstream coverage, we have still had two women whose doctors are refusing treatment because “nothing is safe in early pregnancy” and they are reaching a point where they feel termination may be the only option due to needing to work and look after other children. But weeks like this will start to change things and a few years from now, I predict, that we won’t even have need for a helpline as all women will have consistent access to evidence based treatments, without a fight.
So to those ladies, many of whom I call my friends, who lost their babies and shared their stories… THANK YOU. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. And not just from me, but from all the other women who didn’t feel able to speak out and from their babies, from the women now going through hyperemesis now and their babies and from our daughters and granddaughters and our sisters and nieces, from our husbands and sons… thank you, thank you, thank you. You brave ladies have made a difference.
Rocking My Home Turf – Improving HG Services in Cornwall
I had a fantastic meeting yesterday with a midwifery team leader at the main hospital here in Cornwall, the Royal Cornwall Hospital. Having had hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) care transferred from gyne to maternity in the last few years departments are starting to take more notice of the condition and, perhaps particularly, it's cost!
As an inpatient HG is an expensive condition to treat for already over stretched and under paid maternity departments and it's really showing in their annual budgets when before it was swallowed up by gyne wards where the cost was less obvious. Hyperemesis is a bit of a funny one though in terms of it's appropriate placement – it's a medical condition which needs medical treatment, yet it's caused exclusively by pregnancy, which is normally a normal part of life. Which is perhaps where much of the misunderstanding comes from. Pregnancy is not an illness, but hyperemesis clearly is a significant illness with serious complications and long term physical and mental impacts. Anyway, I digress...
Now that it's coming under Maternity Departments the condition is being taken notice of more and more and ways to improve care and reduce costly in-patient stays are being embraced across the country. And this is exactly what's happening here in Cornwall. They are looking to re-write the guidelines, which are due for review now and they want to get their IV Day service established and utilised (they've had Day IV guidelines for a while but it's not really being well used). And that's where I've come in... to help with their guidelines, do some staff training and look at how we can engage GPs in the county to treat earlier in the community and refer for fluids before an inpatient stay is necessary.
You'll all be pleased to know they'll be removing the word “ginger” from their guidelines!
So having collaborated with the team in Nottingham to improve care and treatment across their county (where, ironically, I trained but moved from before having kids), I'm now getting my teeth into local services. We are hoping ultimately to be able to set up satellite IV Day Services at Penrice (the midwifery led birth unit in St Austell) and then perhaps at the small hospitals in the county such as Bodmin and Camborne. After that I'll have my sights set on IV at Home for the county.
If you would like to learn more about these services and how you can engage your local hosptial maternity department to get them interested in providing these cost effective services then come to the Pregnancy Sickness Support Conference in Birmingham in May where I'll be presenting some of my recent research along with presentations from:
The IV at Home Nurses from Bath
IV Day Unit from Birmingham Women's Hospital
The GP and Consultant from Nottingham who have joined together Primary and Secondary care in their county with Early Intervention GP Guidelines.
You'll also be able to meet the Pregnancy Sickness Support Team who provide support for sufferers across the UK and pick up a signed copy of my book!
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In conjunction with Pregnancy Sickness Support and Plymouth University I am looking for women who have been treated for HG in the last 2 years in the UK to take part in a research survey. Please click here to find out more.
I am mother of three beautiful children and wife to a fantastic and supportive husband. I am a nurse, a farmer and a trustee for Pregnancy Sickness Support. I love working hard and spending time with my kids.
About this blog
Information and support for pregnancy sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum. Views are my own and do not represent those of any other organisation. Information provided here should not be a substitute for medical advice. My aim is to raise awareness and encourage sufferers to know they are not alone.
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