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Journey into the world of hyperemesis gravidarum...
30Apr 11

Spewing Mummy

I am a 30 year old Practice Nurse in the UK and my husband and I are about to embark on 9 months of sickness…
I suffer with a condition call Hyperemesis Gravidarum (Hyper – too much, emesis - ­ vomiting, Gravidarum – in Pregnancy). From about 6 weeks of pregnancy I get thrown into the depths of extreme nausea and vomiting; I can’t keep food or water down, I can’t move without vomiting or retching and any sensory stimulation triggers it too; smell, light, sound, movement and so on. At around 14 weeks things tend to improve and from 20 weeks I can usually start eating and drinking more again, although keeping food down remains a struggle right until the end. Why some women suffer with this is a mystery and there is a host of theories about it. For further info on the condition please see the website.

So why am I doing it? I’ve been through it twice already with my first two sons and have clocked up in excess of 2000 emetic episodes (vomits). I wish I could explain my deep desire for three children but I can’t; I just know that I can’t let hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) be the reason I look back on my life with regret.

Luckily I have a wonderfully supportive husband and my boys are happy, confident and strong; I also have some truly lovely friends who will help us through it.
I have decided to try to keep a BLOG of my experience this time with 3 goals:
  1. I want to raise awareness of hyperemesis gravidarum which effects up to 2% of pregnant woman.
  2. I also hope to raise awareness of the current research and medications available and to educate people as to their use in the hope I can reduce some of the stigma around taking medication in pregnancy.
  3. I want to raise awareness and support for the charity in the UK, Pregnancy Sickness Support who are fighting to improve care, treatment and support for Hyperemesis sufferers as well as the American based Hyperemesis Research Foundation
As a side goal, I hope to keep myself occupied during the long 9 months of sickness and hope that my blog will be found by other hyperemesis sufferers looking for help. There may be times, particularly in the early weeks when I am unable to post and I am hoping that my husband and midwife might also update it to keep you all up to speed.

For me and my husband (Rob) the battle with hyperemesis was only half of the trauma… the other half lay in the appalling, out of date treatment we received from the health care professionals involved; from the first midwife I had contact with telling me to eat ginger biscuits to the General Practitioner (GP) telling me that it is normal to be sick 2 or 3 times a day in pregnancy “pull yourself together Caitlin and get on with it”… I didn't have the physical strength to explain, yet again, that I was being sick 20-30 times a day at that point and I had come to him because the medication they had given me in hospital (the day before) was causing distressing side effects including confusion! Each appointment was a whirlwind of judgement and prejudices and we were left feeling alone and helpless. In my second pregnancy my doctor refused to read any research and we had to push and push to see a consultant after enduring weeks of disjointed treatments. My weight loss (>15% of my body weight in 2 weeks) was mocked and I was told being miserable would mentally scar my toddler.

But this is all in the past and Rob and I have learned a great deal from the experience of hyperemesis gravidarum; in fact, I feel that I have recovered physically very well from the sickness; the scars are mainly mental and largely related to the ‘battles’ and lack of support. There is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t think about some of the things people, in positions of influence, said to me at my most vulnerable and scared point in my life. It is this attitude and stigma which I hope to be able to change. Although I hope not to dwell on the past in this blog, a little detail of my experiences in the previous pregnancies is obviously relevant to my story and why I am keeping this blog; if my care had been excellent I wouldn't feel so compelled! I hope, however, not to bore you all with trauma stories.

This time we hope that things will be different; I know I will still be very sick but we have planned it all much more carefully and hopefully it will be a less traumatic experience. There is a slim chance that I won’t actually be sick but then there is also a chance I could be significantly worse.

We have found a new GP and have a strong support network of friends and family. I will be using the same midwife as for my previous two pregnancies; Mandy, of Devon and Cornwall Independent Midwives. I have also been in touch with a UK based charity Pregnancy Sickness Support who I hope to raise awareness for through this blog; they have been incredibly helpful with advice about medication and support in general. Their long term goal is to set up a support network of professionals and sufferers throughout the country to help women suffering with hyperemesis gravidarum.

In my next blog I will tell you about our action plan and all the things we have been doing to prepare.

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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