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Journey into the world of hyperemesis gravidarum...
23May 14

Choosing to have Hyperemesis Gravidarum Again

There seems to be increasing speculation about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge planning another baby and I'm getting calls and emails for interviews on the subject due to the Duchess's history of hyperemesis gravidarum. Honestly, who would want to be famous eh... The pressure for that poor woman to have to go through hyperemesis again is appalling! It's bad enough that she doesn't seem to have a choice about whether or not to go through it again... She can't even do it in her own time scale! The media seem to be demanding she get on with it and her baby is only 10 months old.

"Every pregnancy is different and she might not have it again" I hear from the uneducated camp... Well I'm all about education so let me tell you the fact of the matter. Once a woman has had hyperemesis gravidarum she has an 86% chance of getting it again in subsequent pregnancies. So it's not a factor to ignore when thinking about timing of subsequent pregnancies.

Let me spell out for you just what the decision for the average women with a history of hyperemesis gravidarum is like... You're not just deciding to have another baby, as if that decision on its own is an easy one for responsible people that factor in finances, quality of life, work balance and human population issues into the decision about bringing a new life into the world. Women with a history of hyperemesis gravidarum also have to think about the fact that they will miss out on up to nine months of caring for their first beloved child. They have to consider how their family finances will cope while they are off sick (admittedly not such an issue for the Duchess but her public life role is a very demanding one and difficult to take time off from). Who will look after their child while they are sick, how will their partner cope if they are admitted to hospital, who will cook tea for them after work, who will sort all the washing and cleaning and other household tasks that just don't happen when a woman is sick.

Many women worry about the emotional impact on their first child who suddenly is without mum for months on end and it can be difficult for them. There will be times when the smell of their first child induces retching and vomiting which is really distressing. Then there is the relationship strain as partners are forced into a single parent role for their child and nursemaid to their loved one who is suffering horribly. They too may be relegated to a spare room due to the blood hound nose of an HG sufferer. And the pressure on friendships which turn out not to be so strong in times of need or the tensions it raises with relatives who don't "get it" and can be insensitive to the battle.

But most of all it's the choice to put yourself through the absolute torture that is hyperemesis all over again. It's the knowing just how sick you will be and remembering the constant torture of nausea night and day for 280 days. The weight loss and feelings of malnutrition and dehydration and the dizziness, headaches and pain that those cause. It's the knowledge that the drugs only help a bit really and that most of them have side effects that are almost as unpleasant as the vomiting anyway. And that's only if you can get the treatment you need in the first place as many women in the UK are still denied proper treatment for hyperemesis.

It's knowing that you'll go weeks or months unable to shower without vomiting, unable to brush your teeth without gagging, retching and more vomiting, that you'll have 24 hours to pass for each of those 280 days where it feels you are utterly alone in your nauseated nightmare. Some days getting out of bed will be impossible, other days just rolling over in bed will be difficult.

So you see it's not an easy choice to make. Nine months is a long time to be sick for. But many (by no means all though) of us do choose to go through it again despite the nightmare ahead once the decision has been made. Why? Because ultimately it is worth it in the end if we want more biological children and we are willing to suffer hell and back for our children. Although sadly for many women the ability to survive another hyperemesis pregnancy is impossible, whether that's physically, mentally or financially and their families are therefore unwillingly limited - for them family, friends and society generally needs to be supportive and drop the "pressure to produce".

We all hope to be one of the 14% of sufferers who go on to have a normal pregnancy after hyperemesis but those chances are slim and that's why planning and timing are important. Plan for the worst, hope for the best is my motto. If your careful planning and preparation aren't required and you fly through the pregnancy then brilliant, no harm done than a little wasted time... But if hyperemesis stricken again then being prepared is absolutely key to survival.

Remember, making plans and preparation for the worst is not going to increase your chances of suffering but it may reduce your suffering if hyperemesis strikes again and make the nine months easier to cope with.

Over the next few weeks watch out for posts specific to planning and preparation for hyperemesis gravidarum for both women suffering, their families and healthcare professionals caring for women with a history of HG.

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Comments

Great article. This is why there's a 5.5yr age gap between my two girls. Couldn't even contemplate another HG pregnancy until the eldest was in school full-time. And it was still the hardest thing to choose to do it all again. Can particularly relate to the guilt of not being able to stand the smell of my oldest child. Heartbreaking. And this is also why, however much I'd love another baby, I can never go through another pregnancy.
Lucy, 23rd May 2014

Spewing Mummy replies...

Tanks for the comment Lucy. I'm sorry to hear your family has been limited... It's a common situation. The guilt over the smell of my first child was the hardest thing for me too. My husband got the nursery to stop using garlic in the lunches while I was particularly ill as that was the worst thing for me, I could smell him from the doorway when he got home :(

I am sat here in tears because this has been my life since Christmas. I am now in a position where I am just about eating normal meals again and can function as a mother, wife and teacher most of the time - with the help of 3 cyclizine tablets a day and an additional 2 of buccastem as and when required. There are still days when I am sick before I have sat up in bed but I know in my heart that having another child was absolutely the right thing for Steve, Amaia and myself. The support of the ladies on Pregancy Sickness Support along with my close friends and family has been unwavering and of vital importance to me in managing my mental health and reading articles like this which make me feel less alone - for that I can only thank you.
Kate, 24th May 2014

Spewing Mummy replies...

Hi Kate,

Thanks for the comment and I'm so sorry you are suffering so badly. I'm pleased you're getting over the worst though and you must be nearly there now? Be careful not to over do things on your better days or you may find you relapse the next day. 

Remember you are not alone. Pregnancy Sickness Support is here to support you both with volunteers and with the forum.

Just keep taking things one day at a time and tick them off when they're done.

C x

What a great website and article. I wish I had known how many people suffered from this when I was pregnant. My first pregnancy I lost 48lbs and my second I lost 39lbs. My gorgeous kids are now 11 1/2 and 10 years old. No one knew how to diagnose or treat me and many doctors thought I was doing it on purpose to not get fat during pregnancy. No one understood how I felt other than pity and fear. I went into a depression during my pregnancies (although I never once wished I wasn't pregnant). My second came as a major surprise (so soon after) and I had an ectopic pregnancy 3 years ago (25lbs in the 3 weeks I was pregnant) but it has definitely stopped me from having more children. My body is still suffering....I get major heartburn and indigestion from ruining my esophagus with all the throwing up and my mouth is a MESS as I have no enamel left on my teeth. Every dental exam is an explanation of my "bulimic mouth" and my not bulimic body (lol). Thank you for raising awareness and providing support to so many woman that need it, to so many woman going through what is already a tender and emotional time that blame themselves for something no one understands!!!! THANK YOU!!!
Lorna , 24th May 2014

Spewing Mummy replies...

Thanks for your comment Lorna and your support. Things were even worse 10 years ago for women suffering but they are improving slowly but surely.

I'm sorry you have so many lasting effects from your HG :(

Such a good article, we found it a very hard decision as was so sick with my first. We decided to have another one and just hoped that i wouldn't have it again but unfortunately I did and like the first time I was in and out of hospital, but it was a lot harder as I couldn't care for my first child who was 3 at the time and had to move in to my husbands parents so they could look after him. It was heartbreaking not being able to care for him. We are now definetly sticking at two as there is no way, for many reasons, would I go through it again.
Nicky, 24th May 2014

Spewing Mummy replies...

Hi Nicky, thanks for the comment. I'm glad you survived a second round but like you say, not being able to care for your first child is so so hard :(

This a brilliant blog, it took me convincing to go through another pregnancy after my first. And yes we are now in the situation of my husband being a single parent, trying to look after our son. Me feeling guilty about not being able to play with him or take him out for day without first thinking how will I cope or planning a 'just incase' scenario. I've got 15 weeks left and wishing every single day to go quicker, it's torture! I only wanted 2 children so for me this is the last pregnancy and some how this keeps me going to know I'll never have to go through these feelings again.
Hayley , 24th May 2014

Spewing Mummy replies...

Hi Haley, thanks for commenting. I'm glad you like the blog but so sorry you are suffering so bad. Keep ticking those days off, you're over half way now. Be sure to get in touch with Pregnancy Sickness Support for emotional support. Also the blog Adventures Of Adam gives ideas of activities that women with HG may find they can manage with their kids, or your husband might find it helpful for entertainment ideas for your little one. X

Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom on this topic. It is really something that's lays heavy on my heart. I am a Christian and have every faith that God can heal and my next pregnancy may be different but I do need to plan. The hardest part is when others question my faith when i talk about needing to plan, prepare and wait for all the reasons you mentioned. I constantly get the comment of "but it could be different next time - don't speak into it like that". It's not that I am speaking negatively into the situation but I am actually trying to priorities and look after my family by having a plan. It's nice to read yor article and feel understood. Thanks
Sparanda, 24th May 2014

Spewing Mummy replies...

Hi Sparanda, thanks for your comment, I'm so glad you find my blog helpful... Reducing women's isolation on the subject of HG is what it's all about :) 

As a non-theist myself I worry about people relying solely on belief, prayer or positive thinking alone when preparing for HG, although I don't doubt they can help a little. Preparation is key though to reducing the impact and severity and making the ordeal that bit more bearable. Perhaps point out to people that it would be irresponsible to not make plans and that preparing for the worst won't increase the chances of suffering. Let's hope that those same people discouraging you from preparing are the people who rally around in your time of need... Perhaps prepare in your head ways they can help in advance such as providing meals for your family when you can't or helping with childcare?

Remember that HG affects women from all faiths and cultures while modern medicine and careful planning helps women from all faiths and cultures! Don't let your religious beliefs be the reason you suffer more than you have to.

Thank you for putting in words how awful I feel! I'm 32 weeks into my second HG pregnancy and will never, ever do it again. My son is 8 because it has taken me this long to prepare myself. I'd love to have 2 children close together but there is absolutely no way I could look after a toddler whilst pregnant. I'm just about managing now, I still throw up 3 times a day but it's at regular times so I can plan things round it. I feel like I have missed out on so much of my sons life the past few months, I want to spoil him rotten when this is over he's been so good. There is no way I could have done this with a massively supportive husband, he's been like a single dad and has done a brilliant job. I feel like me being ill puts so much pressure on other people I care about, so even if I wanted to put myself through this again I don't think I could do it my family. Thank you for writing about this x
Nikki, 24th May 2014

Spewing Mummy replies...

Hi Nikki, thanks for your comment and I'm sorry to hear you are still suffering. Not long to go though so keep focusing on one day at a time. I always found it helpful to focus on 37 weeks rather than 40 as from that point I could have a home birth and was considered full term. Glad you like the blog. X

I am currently 9 weeks pregnant with our fourth. I was sick with my first but nothing like my 2nd and 3rd. This pregnancy hasn't been easy but I've been able to get on a zofran pump and get fluids at home and not in the hospital which I'm very grateful for. We knew there was the huge chance of hyperemsis with this pregnancy but we felt we had a support system in place. Our family has surprisingly chose not to support which is very hard on me but our friends and people from our church are helping with meals. Some people think I'm crazy for having another but I think mine is mild compared to some of the stories I've heard. With all that said I would say everyone of my pregnancies has been worth it!
Katy , 26th May 2014

I am currently 9 weeks pregnant with our fourth. I was sick with my first but nothing like my 2nd and 3rd. This pregnancy hasn't been easy but I've been able to get on a zofran pump and get fluids at home and not in the hospital which I'm very grateful for. We knew there was the huge chance of hyperemsis with this pregnancy but we felt we had a support system in place. Our family has surprisingly chose not to support which is very hard on me but our friends and people from our church are helping with meals. Some people think I'm crazy for having another but I think mine is mild compared to some of the stories I've heard. With all that said I would say everyone of my pregnancies has been worth it!
Katy , 26th May 2014

Spewing Mummy replies...

Hi Katy,

Thanks for your comment and I'm so sorry to hear your family are unsupportive. I'm guessing you're in the States if you had a Zofran pump at home. Sadly that treatment isn't available in the UK... yet! Glad friends are rallying for you and well done on not letting hyperemesis gravidarum stop you from completing your family. x

Thanks so much for taking the time to write these blogs, I really wish things like this had been around when I was pregnant. I felt like nobody understood. Look forward to reading more about planning for another child x
Hayley, 11th June 2014

Hi, Thanks for a blog like this. I'm 11wks pregnant with my 4th child. My 1st pregnancy I had HG for d entire 9mths. It wasn't easy. It resulted in me giving birth to a baby that weighed 2.7kg. I had my 2nd baby 2yrs later n suffered HG for about 3mths non stop. Then it would be that I would have symptoms off and on. My third pregnancy after suffering severe HG for 3 whole wks my Doctor made d mistake of giving me a drug that wasn't meant for that trimester of pregnancy n I had a miscarriage. I was devastated. Then I had my 4th pregnancy. It was in m 4th pregnancy I knew that there was a name for what I was going thru n that others like me existed. What a relief that was! That knowledge alone gave me strength. Though that pregnancy was very difficult. With me being put in hospital 3x, cos of dehydration, I managed to encourage myself to the end. And now here I am with d 5th pregnancy. It has not been easy but I'm grateful for the support I got from my mother, husband and a few friends. They too didn't understand what was going on but they believed in me that I wasn't making it up- well most times. Sometimes, I used to wish that just for a few seconds they could feel what I felt. Well, the journey still lies ahead. I pray for strength and God's favour for myself and all others suffering with HG. Amen.
, 22nd June 2014

This is a great article. I'm sat crying as I'm only 5wks with my second pregnancy and am unable to keep anything down or even move. My little boy is 4 and like many others I wanted a closer age gap but knew this would not be possible. My first pregnancy I was hospitalised and put on a drip by 8 weeks, but thankfully by 20 weeks I was well enough to return to work. The hardest part now is that I don't want to tell anyone I'm pregnant as I sadly lost one at 10 weeks last year. This will definitely be my last pregnancy.
louise, 29th October 2014

I had HG with my son. He is now 9 months old and I just found out I am pregnant again. I dont know how far along I am in this pregnancy but so far I havent felt that sick. With my first i was in and out of the hospital every week. I couldnt eat or drink but I forced myself to try. I lost over 25 pounds within 5 weeks. The sickness lasted from 3 months to 7 months. It was terrible. Im terrified that I will have HG again this time. Im also scared because my husband is going on deployment and I have to move from Virginia to Florida in my third trimester (based on my guess). I would never wish hg on my worst enemy. My husband almost lost his job last time because he had to keep taking time off last time to take care of me. I am praying that this pregnancy is better. thank you for this blog. its nice to see other people that understand the misery. The hospital i had to go to multiple times would just give me an iv and send me home and on the way home i would throw up 3-5 times. :( it was terrible.
Christina, 10th November 2014

Hello, about 2 years ago I suffered hyperemsis my pregnancy wasn't a planned one and by about 3 weeks I was hit full force. I was in and out of hospital constantly feeling like I wasn't going to make it at 11 weeks and 4 days I was told that the baby suffered with malformation I was then taken to another hospital where I had to have an abortion. It makes me cry because I would of done anything to of had my baby but in the end that control was taken from me. I read that it's more than likely this will happen again and it scares me and really really haunts me. It's been nearly 2 years on 21st December and thinking about Christmas and how magic it would of been is making me want to try again. But would I be setting myself up for another heart brake because I couldn't go through it again I can't loose 2 baby's.
Ash, 5th December 2014

Spewing Mummy replies...

Hi Ash, I'm so sorry to hear your sad story and know Christmas is such a tough time for women wanting children and unable to have them for so many various reasons. Please know you are not alone. Please also know that while, yes you are likely to suffer again, there is a lot you can do to prepare in advance and reduce the severity of it. Also, the malformations of the foetus will have had nothing to do with the HG or medication you took so please don't think history will repeat itself and end in loss. What I would like to suggest is that you read my book Hyperemesis Gravidarum - The Definitive Guide which has sections on termination and also trying again. Then after that if you would like to talk to me we can arrange to speak on the phone. My contact details are in the book or you can contact me via this website. How does that sound for an action plan? X

Thanks for such a great article. I had HG from 5 weeks to 20 weeks with my first and from 5 1/2 weeks to 20 weeks with my second. I was somewhat fortunate that being on zofran both times meant I was only vomiting a few times a day instead of continually. Although each time I still lost 5% body weight in the first trimester and was admitted to hospital for IV fluids a few times each pregnancy. I am now almost 5 weeks into my third pregnancy (sucker for punishment, I know!) and with the support of a fantastic family and GP, am prepared for what's to come (maybe?). People think I'm crazy for going back a third time but I think that it is a small price to pay to have my beautiful children. Fingers crossed for third time lucky :) stay well all.
Suzanne, 19th May 2015

Thanks for such a great article. I had HG from 5 weeks to 20 weeks with my first and from 5 1/2 weeks to 20 weeks with my second. I was somewhat fortunate that being on zofran both times meant I was only vomiting a few times a day instead of continually. Although each time I still lost 5% body weight in the first trimester and was admitted to hospital for IV fluids a few times each pregnancy. I am now almost 5 weeks into my third pregnancy (sucker for punishment, I know!) and with the support of a fantastic family and GP, am prepared for what's to come (maybe?). People think I'm crazy for going back a third time but I think that it is a small price to pay to have my beautiful children. Fingers crossed for third time lucky :) stay well all.
Suzanne, 19th May 2015

I am 10 weeks pregnant with my second child and have been suffering with HG since week 5. I had manageable morning sickness with my first. With this pregnancy I feel so lost. I cry all the time. I can't take care of my 2 year old and feel like such a failure. I contemplate abortion daily and worry that I may resent this baby. My doctor's have been supportive but I feel like friends and family just don't get how I am feeling. A family friend is also pregnant and she has had no morning sickness - I find myself so jealous. Your article is one of the few I've read that captures rhe emotional side to HG so perfectly. I hope I can make it through to 40 weeks.
Tricia, 19th June 2015

Hi there, this article hit hyperemesis right on the head. That's exactly how it is for the sufferer and family around you, understanding or not. I'm currently going through my 3rd hyperemesis pregnancy. The first I'm lucky to have my beautiful 2 and a half year old which my partner sacrificed his university education to take care of me and my 3 year old son. The second ended in an abortion as I simply couldn't cope and the third which I am struggling with as I type at just 7 weeks gone. It's so debilitating as an illness and when you have to work or take care of your other children full time it really takes it's toll on your mental wellbeing, health and your relationships, to name a few. The worst is not being able to cope and friends or family just not understanding what you are going through.
Shirelle Sibley, 4th August 2015

I'm 32 weeks pregnant and been suffering from HG since week 5. Was signed off work for 5 weeks, been in hospital, fainted at work, I'm now signed off again for a week, there's not a day that's gone by that I've felt well, it's been so hard. This is my first and people have been asking whens my second! That's what really annoys me, there's lack of understanding about this condition, I honestly don't think I could do it again, it's been too much. Sometimes I just cry constantly, feel so alone. I have a great partner and a good family but still feel on my own. People say "oh I was sick when I was pregnant". They don't seem to get that sickness and HG are completely different! I admire those who have gone onto have more babies, you have way more strength than me
Serena, 16th October 2015

Spewing Mummy replies...

Hi Serena, I'm so sorry you are suffering so much still. Please get in touch with the Pregnancy Sickness Support helpline so we can offer you support and discuss what treatments you are on to see if tweaking them may improve the rest of your pregnancy. The number is 02476382020 and if you leave a message my colleague Karen will call you back. X

Hi, it is so comforting to know that we are not alone. :( I suffered with HG with my 1st pregnancy from 8 weeks to 20 weeks and then from 7 weeks to 20 weeks with my 2nd pregnancy. Me and my husband are desperate to have another child as we always imagined having a large family, however when we tried to attempt a third pregnancy the HG was the worse the doctors had seen. I managed to get to 9 weeks until my body had the maximum amount of ketones in it and we chose to have an abortion. For me the sickness stopped instantly and the abortion at first came as some kind of 'relief' to feel normal but for my husband it was much worse and he suffered depression for the following 2 years becausewe had gone against something that meant so much to us. People say to us that we should be grateful that we have 2....but that is just it, the more beautiful and smarter our children become the more it hurts us that we cannot have any more. The funny think with HG is that you forget what it feels like to have it, you might have a small selection of traumatic moments during the hyperemersis but you cant remember what it feels like (just like child birth) so it is (for me) always tempting to try again. We just dont know what to do. I feel like we have been told that I cannot have anymore children!
Olivia, 24th February 2016

Spewing Mummy replies...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience Olivia.

If you would like support and information looking into the possibilities of trying again you can contact the Pregnancy Sickness Support Coordinator Karen who can send you information that could help with your decision and can give you the details of HG specialist Dr's who could talk through potential treatment and management plans with you both.

It is an incredibly difficult decision to make either choosing to embark upon another HG pregnancy or not and what that means for you all now and in the future.

I am 32 weeks pregnant and still suffering with hg. This is my first pregnancy. Initially I was having twins but one died at 13 weeks. I was advised my hg was likely due to increased hormone levels of a multiple birth and the hormones secreted by my lost baby as he broke down into the placenta. Its incredibly upsetting knowing this. I am happy to say my remaining baby is perfect and we can't wait to meet him. I always wanted at least 2 babies but I am honestly terrified of going through hg again. I have flash backs from my worst days and still can't even think about certain food, drink or smells without getting sick. On the mosr part people have been supportive but a lot of people I work with think I'm just rubbish at being pregnant. As a result of being unable to cope in work I have taken early mat leave. Hg has been the most challenging experience in my life. I honestly dread doing it again. In the future I'll have some big decisions about whether or not to have more children.
Sarah, 25th February 2016

Spewing Mummy replies...

Hi Sarah

It is life changing and debilitating.

I'm so sorry to hear you have had to deal with unsupportive colleagues whilst trying to manage working with this condition. 

If you need support for the rest of your pregnancy don't hesitate to contact Pregnancy Sickness Support who can match you with a 1-2-1 peer supporter and send you links to further info and support. You can talk to your midwife regarding support for flashbacks etc and they might recommend talking therapy with a specially trained midwife or counsellor.

Please do talk talk to your GP or Consultant about the next level of treatment if what your on isnt reducing symptoms enough.

Thank you that would be greatly appreciated. How do I contact Karen please? Kind Regards
olivia, 27th February 2016

Thank you that would be greatly appreciated. How do I contact Karen please? Kind Regards
olivia, 27th February 2016

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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.

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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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