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