Morning sickness – Surely it will stop now
Everybody says, “When you reach the end of the first trimester you’ll feel like a new woman – you’ll glow and just love being pregnant.” Well, it’s not like that for everyone and, for some, morning sickness is a very real problem which can go on for what seems like an eternity.
Hyperemesis gravidarum is severe and excessive nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, which occurs throughout the day and night and can be severely debilitating and dangerous if it reaches the point of dehydration, low blood pressure and ketosis (a build-up of acidic chemicals in the blood and urine).
It is almost certainly brought on by the hormone changes experienced as a result of pregnancy but doctors are not completely sure why some mums-to-be experience virtually no nausea and vomiting while others, those suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), are affected so badly that they may need hospitalisation.
Hyperemesis gravidarum – one mum’s perspective
Having suffered from HG in all my pregnancies I can safely say it is not something I would wish on anyone, but by the third time of suffering from it I had coping with it down to a fine art.
The first time I experienced it I ended up being hospitalised because I couldn’t keep anything down, not even water, and everyone around me became very worried for my safety. Unfortunately, that pregnancy did not end in a live birth (although this was unrelated to the HG).
My second pregnancy, a few years later, ended in the birth of my beautiful baby boy, but it started with morning sickness on steroids; I was sick in the morning, the afternoon, the evening, the gaps in between and almost any time I wasn’t asleep.
Although this bout of HG did not require me to be hospitalised (my doctors kept a sharp eye on the ketones which appeared in my urine, and my blood pressure which had always been a bit on the low side), I became unable to go into work and spent most of my days just lying around with a big plastic bowl next to me. I found that I could be sick at any time, however, my husband’s return home from work was always a trigger event for a bout of extreme vomiting (he was a smoker and smelled strongly of tobacco and stale smoke). And what a fantastic greeting it must have made for him each day, “Hello darling, pass the sick bowl!”
He was supportive though, and he took over a lot of the housework duties, including shopping and cooking, but he failed to notice a slice of melon going off in the fridge. Then, on a morning I felt able to make myself a cup of tea, I went to the fridge only to have the smell of rotting melon flesh cause me nearly to explode with such fierce wretching and vomiting that I have never forgotten that singular smell. I haven’t forgiven him!
Conversely, even nice smells, washing powder for example, could easily bring on a bout of vomiting and I remember having to use a bag of mint imperials clutched to my nose as a method of negotiating the cleaning materials section of my local supermarket. Bearing in mind that in order to cope with excessive toilet bowl contemplation my hair had been cut very, very short, and I was very pale and drawn, I must have looked quite a sight as I sniffed and snorted on my baggie of mints in the middle of Tesco. I am pretty sure several shoppers thought the woman with the shaved head wearing stretchy, grey dungarees was probably a desperate glue sniffer – it was not a good look.
Eating healthily was a definite problem and I survived the really bad HG symptoms, during which I was more or less bed-ridden, on a diet of chicken curry pot noodles. My husband brought a kettle up to the bedroom and at one point I had nine of them arranged in pyramid formation waiting for me to be able to contemplate eating. They really were all I could manage. It was a strange and surreal time, but I did get over it. I did eventually go back to work and I ended up having an otherwise completely uncomplicated pregnancy and birth.
By the time I was pregnant with my daughter, five years later, I was not completely surprised when it all started again. Fortunately, my son was a healthy, happy four-year-old and quite good at keeping himself entertained while his mummy was being very sick. I became used to playing Lego with a sick bowl to hand and, on many occasions, my son didn’t even bat an eye lid as I turned to vomit and then trudged to the bathroom to flush away the evidence.
This time my pregnancy cravings manifested themselves in a need for, very specifically, Chinese chicken wings and Neapolitan ice cream. I remember my husband having to virtually buy out the Safeway freezer department of all chicken wing products and making the horrible mistake of bringing home ice cream with Neapolitan swirls rather than blocks (HOW DARE HE?!?!).
And that was it – 24hr morning sickness made simpler each time.
For me it ended up being just one of those things and with the right management and proper health checks it shouldn’t cause you or your baby any harm. But, it’s always a good idea to be aware of the risks and to seek medical advice if you are worried. And please, unless you are desperate, don’t follow my pregnancy diet tips!