Rebecca Welton tells us how she had hyperemesis gravidarum during both of her pregnancies and lost two stone due to dehydration and constant nausea.
"There is no conclusive research about why some women suffer from HG but about 2% of pregnant women are diagnosed with it."
A few weeks into my first pregnancy, I started to feel nauseous, which I thought was perfectly normal. But by six weeks, I started vomiting; twice a day at first, but then twice an hour. I tried everything, from anti-sickness bands to eating ginger.
Nothing helped and I quickly became dehydrated. My doctor diagnosed me with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), which means excessive vomiting in pregnancy.
I was sent to hospital, where anti-sickness injections and a saline drip rehydrated me, and meant I could keep food and water down. After a couple of days I was back home. I went into a cycle of feeling nauseous, but able to keep down biscuits and ice-lollies, then the vomiting would start again and I would end up back in hospital.
A few days later I’d be home again and the cycle would start over. As movement seemed to make it worse, I spent my days only going from my bed to the bathroom and back again.
I quickly lost two stone in weight. I stopped working for nearly six months. I didn’t see friends and family, and felt miserable. The only respite I had from the constant nausea was sleeping.
John, my husband, was amazing: he fetched food whenever I felt I could keep something down, and encouraged me to eat even when I didn’t. Most importantly, he held my hand, stroked my hair, and told me I would get through this.
By seven months, the nausea had eased off and by the time Alexandra was born, I was bubbling with excitement.
Pregnancy second time round
Tips for dealing with HG
- Rest and sleep as much as you can – tiredness and movement can make it worse.
- Avoid cooking smells and strong-smelling food.
- Eat small amounts frequently, rather than large meals.
- Sip water every few minutes.
- Try ice-lollies – great for getting water and sugar into you.
When I got pregnant for the second time, I dreaded the prospect of going through HG again. John was my saviour and his words became my mantra – that we would get through this together.
When I started feeling nauseous the doctors immediately put me on anti-sickness pills. I still had the all-consuming, constant nausea, but I didn’t have the dangerous vomiting this time.
Once again, I spent the first few months in bed – any movement made me sick, but I kept out of hospital.
It has been quite a journey and, while I can’t say I enjoyed my pregnancies, as I watch my children laugh and play, I know it was all worth it.
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.