Skip navigation
Journey into the world of hyperemesis gravidarum...
24Mar 14

Entertaining children whilst spewing

A common question I get asked is how on earth do hyperemesis sufferers look after and pass the time with their toddler when pregnant again. It's a commonly cited reason for not having another hyperemesis pregnancy. I believe strongly that the key to surviving subsequent hyperemesis pregnancies is in the planning and preparation and the planning for your children is just as important as planning your medication and treatment. So let me introduce my friend and colleague, hyperemesis survivor Emma Edwards who has developed an incredible resource for women suffering with toddlers at home...

How exciting – my first ever guest post!

For those that don’t know me I am Emma, author of the Adventures of Adam blog. I am Mummy to 22 month old Adam and we recently took part in a 100 day play challenge.

In 2011/2012 when I was pregnant with Adam I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum. Unfortunately my story is typical of many sufferers – hospitalisations, medication, isolation... I also added breathing difficulties and pre-eclampsia to the mix. It wasn’t a great 9 months to say the least! Throughout my pregnancy as I lay there being ill I would think about the adventures Adam and I would have together. I made a promise to myself that once the hyperemesis was over I would value each day. Hence we took part in the play challenge and started our blog.

It was during the play challenge that it really hit home to me - how am I going to look after Adam during my next pregnancy? The idea of being separated from him for nine months petrifies me. In my last pregnancy I couldn’t look after myself for 9 months let alone an active young child. Although I can live in hope, there is an 86% chance that I will suffer from HG again.

I am the administrator for the Pregnancy Sickness Support Forum and I regularly see the concerns of members who are planning another pregnancy or are currently suffering from HG. How do you entertain your other children whilst you are so ill? How do you entertain your other children whilst you are so ill for up to nine months? The guilt they feel is immense.

I asked my HG friend, who is towards the end of her second HG pregnancy, what it is like to go through HG with a toddler. This was her response:

In a way, the few weeks leading up to getting pregnant were the very worst and most upsetting... dreading the separation, dreading missing having kisses and cuddles and stories and playtime, etc... then at least once I got a positive pregnancy test and became sick soon after, I could be on countdown to being well again and being able to be a proper Mummy to my little boy again.

In the first few months full-time childcare was essential. There was just no WAY I could have taken care of him, at all. Sometimes I couldn't speak to him without vomiting. We had to juggle between two nurseries, close friends and hired a cleaner and an ironing company.

Since the sickness improved (at the midway-point-ish) I have better and worse days. On no days do I ever feel normal, or am able to function at a normal level, but on my better days I am able to interact a bit with my boy and do some (limited) activities/play with him (almost always in the house as travelling, etc. is very difficult).

The nausea is always there but vomiting is under control so long as I don't do too much. On my worse days I need to lie still mostly and have had to rely heavily on CBeebies!”

So I decided to find some sort of solution – a way that could help HG sufferers entertain their children. During my play challenge I started to look for activities which didn’t need any preparation and that a child could play with independently. Minimum preparation for maximum distraction. At Adventures of Adam there is a dedicated section for play activities that are suitable for HG sufferers.

When putting together the activities suitable for HG sufferers there had to be some criteria for the activities to be deemed HG friendly. There is no point doing an activity which involves food or has an odour as these are bound to trigger vomiting. Even the smell of playdough can cause a sufferer to reach for the sick bowl. The activity also had to be mess free - an HG suffer will hardly be in any state to clear away a messy activity.

Please note though that the things which can trigger HG will vary from person to person. These activities are also not meant for HG sufferer at the very early stages of pregnancy. At that stage an HG sufferer will be focused solely on getting through each day and childcare will be a must for their other children.

Adam and I will continue doing a daily play activity and each week we will add at least one play activity which is suitable for a HG sufferer and her child. These activities could also be used for women post pregnancy during feeding time to entertain their older child.

One day I hope to be brave enough to go through hyperemesiss again. For the time being I will savour every moment I have with Adam.

Why not drop by Adventures of Adam and check out our Activities Suitable for HG Sufferers section. You can also follow the fun of Adventures of Adam via Facebook and Pintrest.

I would like to thank Caitlin to share here today. It has been a privilege x


Share with...


Fantastic post Emma, it's very reassuring to read that there are ways to spend time with your little ones if you have HG x
Mummy Whiskers, 24th March 2014

Emma lovely post, and nice to see something for the kids. I couldn't stand the smell of anyones breath even my daughters whilst pregnant with our son, that really upset me, as it would make me throw up. Poor child must have thought I hated her. I like to know if there is any help for slightly older children as my daughter was 6/7 whilst I was pregnant and sick. She is now experiencing a great deal of anxiety since our son was born, so would like to know what help is out there for those children, and how can we help them cope emotionally and not feel neglected.
Emma F, 24th March 2014

Spewing Mummy replies...

Hi Emma,

Sorry to hear your daughter suffered so much while you were sick. It's a really tricky aspect to subsequent pregnancies and unfortunately I'm not aware of any specific papers regarding how to help children through a parents illness but I will look into it for you and perhaps see if I can get a child psychologist to do a post with some tips.

There is a very good childrens book by Ashli McCall called "Muma has Hyperemesis Gravidarum, but only for a while" which helps explain things to children of about 5 or 6 years old. You can get it on Amazon.

Caitlin x

This is a great blog. My daughter is 21 months & after been ill with an infection the last 2 days, I have been unable to care properly for her. Guilt city! I have convinced myself now I just can't do HG again & I can't damage the amazing bond we have. if I can ever do it again it will have to be when my mum retires. Poor mum having to look forward to my hell!!! The PSS charity has such good resources now, well done :-) xx if the time is ever right, I will spend time going through it as preparation!! Hugs to anyone suffering now xxx every painful day is worth the prize xxx
Natalie , 9th April 2014

I too suffered from HG with my snoecd pregnancy. It was so horrible, but it seemed like no one around me knew just how bad it was, even my doctor. He just kept telling me that the end would come and that I just needed to make sure to eat and sleep as much as possible. But who wants to eat anything when you know that within minutes you will be so ill that you can do almost nothing. I spent many nights sleeping on my bathroom floor because I felt too weak to go back and forth from my bed to the toilet to throw up. The doctor finally saw a portion of what I was going through as I threw up (almost) non stop for 2 hours in the delivery room! But my nightmare with HG didn't end with delivery because I was still ill for a couple weeks afterward but to add to it my maternity insurance wouldn't cover any of my extra costs because HG isn't considered a complication of pregnancy! (I had to get an ultrasound every week after 25 weeks to make sure of growth, and I also had to be hospitalized twice because of dehydration, but I had to pay out of pocket for all of it).
Kool, 28th December 2014

Awesome letter!! It's so upsteting that this is not well acknowledged by others, mostly out of ignorance. I got about 30 days off in month 5 and was almost in TEARS because I was so happy for the relief! Well, it returned with fury in month 6, and I wound up losing my job for missing days and spending too much time in the bathroom when I did get the strength to go in! I didn't know what to tell my boss, as my doctor told me vomiting your brains out was just morning sickness I felt so ashamed. Could I just not handle regular morning sickness that women had been dealing with since the dawn of time? Was I fit for this, or is there something wrong with me? Not until a friend told me that vomiting 10-15 times a day was NOT normal, did I find out what was going on. Hang in there!
Isabel, 10th January 2015

Fund Hyperemesis Research

The Book

Hyperemesis Gravidarum - The Definitive Guide by Caitlin Dean

The Kids Book

Hoe to be an HG Hero by Caitlin Dean

About Me

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.

Previous award nominations

MAD Blog Awards UK 2015