When I found out I was pregnant, I was overjoyed. I’d always dreamed of being a mother and having a little cute girl who would become my ultimate bestie. I was so excited about being pregnant and growing a bump, with little knowledge of what to expect let alone the hyperemesis.
What is Hyperemesis?
- Excessive vomiting in pregnancy
- Causes dehydration and those suffering are often put on a drip due to dehydration
- HG usually wears off between 12-16 weeks but many suffer for their whole pregnancy
- 1% of women suffer from the condition although according to the NHS, many women aren’t diagnosed and thus go unreported.
My first bout of sickness started at 4 weeks. Not once did I think it was pregnancy as symptoms were similar to that of a common bug – vomiting and diarrhea. While I blamed a takeaway shared with friends (if you’re reading this, sorry I was so adamant it was the pizza) it was actually an early symptom of pregnancy. I continued to self diagnosing myself with a stomach ulcer or H Pylori (thanks Google) one day I had had enough and took myself to A&E one morning to be told I was 5.5 weeks pregnant.
I was nauseous all the time, vomiting up to 6 times a day. Week 7 of my pregnancy is when HG had really kicked in – while I was on holiday. The vomiting went from 6 times a day to once or twice every hour. I was on sick leave from work for 10 weeks. I was growing a human and living on three slices of toast a day. I’d force Lucozade down me for energy recommended by my doctor – water tasted and smelt like fart. That’s right. Fart. Even sweet bottled water like Evian. Some days, my own saliva made me nauseous – I mean, do you ever imagine having to deal with that?!
Ginger biscuits. Lemon slices. Sea bands. Acupressure. Nothing helped.
Luckily, it didn’t effect my growing baby but it affected me emotionally and physically. HG can be seriously debilitating and I was beginning to feel depressed about passing the day between lying in bed and my face hovering over the toilet/sink. I’d lost two stone in my first trimester. I’d been hospitalised due to dehydration and was desperate to take anything that would take the sickness away. The anti sickness tablets prescribed made me feel worse. I was in the verge of taking Ondansetron (an anti-emetic usually prescribed to cancer patients – Zofran in the US) a steroid to manage the nausea but thankfully by 14 weeks my HG had turned into normal morning sickness and lasted til 19 weeks. Whilst there is a big physical toll emotionally – you feel guilty and helpless all at the same time as you literally feel you can’t do anything.
Dealing with Hyperemesis and Sickness in Pregnancy
Understand your triggers
I think one of the most important things is to understand and then avoid your triggers, this is different for everyone. Smells generally are a big thing in pregnancy – I couldn’t bare the smell of most things, for many it could be specific smells and once those are identified you can work on avoiding them, another trigger for me was the actual feeling of feeling a sense of uncleanliness, it would actually lead me to sickness, going to new places which were dirty would also trigger me and I ended up spending most of my time in the comfort of my home where I knew everything was clean (I love and still do love the smell of Dettol).
Air out your living space. Open the windows. Open the blinds. Fresh air can really help with giving you a general feeling of wellness.
Rest, Go easy on yourself
Don’t worry about the state of the house and to do lists. Do them slowly as and when you can at your pace and ask your partner to help. We are not machines and our body is working 24/7 growing a baby from little food that manages to stay in. Resting in the first trimester is important regardless of whether your suffer from HG or not. Cut yourself some slack.
Don’t beat yourself up about being signed off sick, in the UK, there are laws in place to protect women whilst being pregnant (this was a hard one for me to accept and I was constantly feeling bad about it but your health and babies comes first.
Safe food list
I had a limited list of safe foods which could easily change weekly. Initially I was living on garlic bread and Sainsburys Belgian Chocolate Milk but normal milk would make me sick. When I went out very rarely, I’d keep mini cola Haribos – I would just need a few to get me through 20 minutes or so before rushing home to be sick. Alternatives could be other hard sweets like cherry drops or lemon sherbets. When garlic bread started making me feel nauseous, I was living on Warburtons Danish white bread – it’s honestly as light as air and Lemon Sanpalegrino. My husband was so happy I was finally enjoying fluids he bought me a case of 40. Only for me to be off it 3 days later.
During my desperation for looking at ways to deal with HG, my aunt invited me to a Mums and bumps group on Facebook. I wrote a post about my hyperemesis asking if anyone had taken ondansetron and I was shocked at the response. SO many women had been through it with a few having upto 6 HG pregnancies. I was surprised to find so many HG support groups on Facebook. HG can be a very lonely thing. Most women will be stuck indoors in our safe zone so having the opportunity to engage with others who are going through or have been through it can be a great comfort. One of the best things for me was reconnecting with an old university friend who was two weeks behind me in her second pregnancy and suffering HG for the second time. Unfortunately in pregnancy, husbands do generally face the brunt of your heightened hormonal state and can never do anything right. So having someone you can speak to with no judgement made the journey more bearable.
Sickness survival kit
When you do make it out the house, always be prepared taking a sickness survival kit with you. Before I was diagnosed with pregnancy and still managed to get myself into work (week 7), I hadn’t quite managed to deal with the nausea. I had taken a folic acid tablet in the morning. I was on the train and I had a sudden wave of nausea and could feel my mouth filling up with saliva. And the worst happened – I didn’t make it to the next stop without puking. Mainly water and the tablet. But I had nothing to clean up with let alone a bottle of water. One commuter was kind enough to give me a bottle of water another gave me a whole pack of tissues while taking me off the train. From then on, I made sure I carried water, loads of tissues, wipes, sick bags and mouthwash with me at all times.
While I was so happy to be expecting, HG took away the buzz most women get in early pregnancy with thoughts of if I’d ever get through it which is hard to admit. On a positive note, the doom and gloom is very short lived and the overwhelming feeling of having a child make me think I’d go through it a thousand times if I had to for my Baby.