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Would you abort your baby to stop feeling sick?

 For some women the idea of blooming during pregnancy is beyond their comprehension – for them pregnancy is characterised by incredible, all consuming sickness, the loss of a significant proportion of their body weight and the risks associated with dehydration.

And that is just the physical side.

Mentally imagine dealing with the consequences of the child you are carrying pushing your body to the limits, of this child effectively becoming a parasite that is poisoning you.

I’m not talking about anything within the realm of morning sickness, I’m talking about the much more severe hyperemesis gravidarum and the horrible effects it can have on a woman.

Talking on twitter to other mothers experiencing it they have spoken about how the physical toll was so bad that they have begged their doctors to abort the baby to avoid them having to continue with the pregnancy.

Why is the medical profession failing them?  Why can they not get help before they lose several stones of weight and before the mental impact is so high?

Partly I think it’s an education thing – everyone knows about morning sickness, it’s just one of those things and women just need to buck up and stop being wimps.  But there is a huge difference between morning sickness and vomiting up everything you eat or drink day in and day out.  HG is waking up in the middle of the night and having to throw up, it is not being able to tolerate even a sip of water, its throwing up so much that you are producing only bile.  It is utterly, remorselessly continuous.  It is not just one of those things.

Women with it need better care – they need midwives and doctors who will get them medication that can reduce the sickness to a manageable level.  Sadly many healthcare professionals remember the thalidomide cases and are wary of giving women these medications.  The bottom line is that there are safe medications to take in pregnancy and these women need them.  Telling them to eat a biscuit before getting out of bed just doesn’t give them the help they need.

They also need society to understand and give them some compassion.  This is not just a small side effect of an otherwise healthy pregnancy, this is an all encompassing illness.  If you see a woman looking pale on public transport, having to sit on the floor on a train and breathe deeply or even pulling a sick bag from her handbag do not assume that she has a drinking problem and berate her for it.  Wonder if perhaps she is about to throw up because her baby is effectively poisoning her and offer her help, take your smelly sandwich away from her so it doesn’t trigger worse feelings of nausea and remember that whilst she may have chosen to get pregnant she almost certainly didn’t sign up to feel this bad.

For more information on HG and how to help see here

I also wrote this post whilst pregnant with Littler and struggling with HG

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13 comments to Would you abort your baby to stop feeling sick?

  • Really good post. Pregnancy can be such a struggle. I heard of some real HG horror storys through friends of friends ……… I had very severe antenatal depression – that wasn’t much fun either.

  • Great post and so important for more people to read about HG. I had it during both my pregnancies and it’s bad enough feeling like you’d rather be dead, you don’t need people judging you and health professionals fobbing you off. I hope more awareness is raised so women don’t have to suffer so much in the future.

  • I had hyperemesis, and I was lucky. I went to the GP to tell them that I was being too sick. I went through 3 different anti-emetics – all worked for 24 hours and then stopped working. It did cross my mind to have a termination and stick at one child. The fact that there was a a due date by which this would all be over, and the fact that I had already had one termination were the two factors that stopped me.

    The day before Christmas Eve I woke up and realised I couldn’t cope. I am self-employed and I had orders to complete that day or I would miss the Christmas post. I did what any grown up 30-year-old would do- I called my Mum. She tutted, and sighed and said she’d come over and help. 2 hours later she arrived. She was visibly shocked by what she found.

    I was only able to walk to the door and unlock it before going to the kitchen sink and throwing up everything I had eaten that day. She saw how pale I was, she helped me complete my orders and then she drove me to the GP.

    I was sat in the GP’s room with my Mum thinking that I was such a wimp, and those poor ladies with hyperemesis. How on earth do they cope? It must be so terribly hard. Those poor people, if I feel this hideous without only a bit of morning sickness.

    It was only when he got out a sheet of paper and began to write a note to the hospital whilst simultaneously calling them, and on the phone to them I heard the GP say “I’ve got a lady who is very poorly with hyperemesis” that I realised that those poor ladies who were so sick they got hospitalised now included me.

    I hate needles – they had 6 attempts to cannulate me. Those lovely, caring, though very apologetic midwives managed to get a doctor to use a baby-sized cannula on me in the end. I was severely dehydrated and my veins kept collapsing. I needed 3 litres of fluid put back into me, along with potassium and a few other things. I never thought I would be pleased to be on a drip. I felt better (albeit temporarily).

    I will never forget those midwives. Their kindness is etched into my memory, and their compassion (bursting into tears when I tried to keep up with their brisk walking pace) will always be remembered.

  • A friend of mine suffered was this and was hospitalized; until then, I had never heard of it. So you’re right to post about it. It seems extraordinary that more can’t be done about it.

  • This such an important post to write and I’m so pleased you did. When I was pregnant with my daughter I didn’t suffer from HG thankfully as I didn’t have a problem keeping food and liquid down. However, I did suffer with extreme nausea for the whole pregnancy and that itself was completely debilitating. I never imagined morning sickness would be that bad. In fact in the first week after I was pregnant I even commented I was gutted that I didn’t have any morning sickness yet as I didn’t really feel pregnant. A lesson there is to be careful what you wish for.
    I really hope that awareness of HG and other types of extreme morning sickness can be increased and more help be offered. I stopped mentioning it to the midwife in the end as just felt like I was moaning. I was just told to buy those pressure point wrist bands or to keep ginger bicuits to hand – neither or which helped me at all.

  • Sally Huggett

    HG is indeed an awful thing to have to go through. I have worked as a Midwife in an NHS Hospital in Sussex. There are not enough Midwives and the Consultants often just don’t care. They are not sympathetic. They are flippant. I left the midwifery after having my child when I was left with Pre-Eclampsia for 30 hours to wait for an emergency C Section. And my child is now disabled. I do not have anything good to say about the NHS and Maternity services.

  • Tattieweasle

    Thank you for writing this post. The more that is said the quicker people will deal with the problem.

  • My instant reaction was that yes, I can very well understand if a woman had a termination because of this. I had constant morning sickness, no actual vomiting thankfully, and those weeks were just awful. I was fortunate that it passed and got better but I don’t know I could have coped 9 months with even “just” the constant nausea. A biscuit before breakfast? Ginger tea? That never helped at all.

    • It’s that sort of facile advice that doesn’t help and the assumption that you should just be able to soldier on – trouble is that I couldn’t and I held off seeking help until I risked my life and that of my baby – I can totally understand hitting this degree of misery and wanting to make it go away and sadly the only possible way is by terminating the pregnancy

      A horrid decision to have to make but one I think that underines the sheer horror of HG

  • Such an interesting subject. I’ve only heard about it vaguely, and it sounds like lack of awareness is a big barrier at the moment to helping the poor women who suffer with this. Honest, insightful posts like this are exactly the sort of thing we need to start making a difference. Thanks for sharing.

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