10 things you should never say to a woman suffering with Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Hyperemesis Gravidarum, HG, the princess illness, whatever you want to call it, it’s shit. It’s usually defined as “acute morning sickness” or “severe morning sickness”. Believe me, this is not morning sickness. And there’s certainly nothing “cute” about it. Think of it this way: morning sickness to hyperemesis is what a paper cut is to a bone snapping. They’re at different ends of the spectrum!

As someone who has and is still battling with HG, I’ve put together a list of 10 things I’ve been told or advised by friends/family/counsellors/randomers that have caused my blood to boil. At first, you can handle it but when you hear it over and over again, you could quite literally punch someone – apart from the fact you barely have the energy to raise your head let alone a fist.

“Oh I had morning sickness with my pregnancy… it’ll pass.”

Darling, this is NOT morning sickness. People suffering with morning sickness throw up a couple of times in the morning and then get on with their day. For a HG sufferer, their morning usually looks something like this:

8am – wake up
8:05am – vomit
8:10am – drag yourself to the toilet
8:15am – vomit again
8:20am – take your tablets
8:25am – vomit said tablets back up
8:30am – try some fluid
8:35 – vomit that fluid back up

This is just what half an hour looks like for a HG sufferer. There is no way someone with HG can just get on with their day. They vomit 20-50 times a day and, unlike morning sickness, it sometimes doesn’t pass until the baby is born! It’s a condition that needs medical help.

“It’ll be worth it in the end”

Sorry Angela but I can barely see myself getting to the end of the day, let alone the next seven months! When you’re vomiting so much that you’re in and out of hospital being prodded and pricked, there’s little chance you can see how “worth it” it is at that moment in time. You don’t hate your baby but there may be a part of you that resents it slightly for making you feel so shit!

“You should get up and get some fresh air”

Some days I barely have the energy to crawl to the bathroom, the last thing I’m going to be doing is prancing around outside taking in all that “fresh air”. My nose is also like a sniffer dog, I can smell a bonfire burning 20 miles away – and that’ll just make me vom even more.

“Your baby won’t form properly if you’re not taking your vitamins”

Thank you for making me feel even more guilty about depriving my baby of all the goodness it needs to thrive. As if I didn’t feel bad enough that my baby’s heartbeat is probably through the roof because of how dehydrated my body is, you’re now going to tell me about spinal bifida.

“You really need to drink more water”

You have no idea what I’d give to guzzle down a nice cold bottle of water. In fact, I’m so thirsty I could drink Niagara Falls and that still wouldn’t hydrate me. I KNOW I need to drink some fluid but my body is having none of it… it’s like a slot machine spitting out an old pound coin.

“Try eating little and often”

When everything you’ve tried to eat comes back up within minutes – sometimes seconds – of you swallowing, you start to realise all you’re doing is wasting precious energy and money. Not only that, I find it much more pleasant (if vomiting can be pleasant) to chuck up liquid than a piece of bread that my stomach hasn’t even attempted to crush up and digest.

“Medication is bad for the baby”

No one wants to take medication when they’re pregnant. Everyone goes into pregnancy aiming to be that “natural earth mum” but when the only options you have are: become so dehydrated that you eventually die (yes, some woman can DIE from HG if they’re not treated in time) or take medication that will save you and your baby’s life, I know which one I’d rather. Yes, some medications can cause birth defects but we’re living in the 21st century, my doctor is not going to prescribe me something that could A) harm my baby and 2) I don’t absolutely NEED.

“Sickness is a sign of a healthy baby”

Mmm yes, it can be, but HG is so serious that it can actually lead to stillborns/premature births/birth defects and so on and so forth, so PLEASE don’t tell me chucking up 50 times a day is a good thing and I should be pleased that my body is giving me a sign my baby is thriving.

“At least you can get pregnant”

I’m so grateful that I’ve been blessed with falling pregnant so quickly and so unexpectedly. I love my baby so much – even though I haven’t met them yet – but when you’re so poorly for such a long time, the last thing you feel is happiness about being pregnant. Some women – myself included – think about terminating their pregnancies, not because they don’t want their baby but because they can’t see themselves getting through nine months of hell. And some women – myself included, again – are put off ever having another baby in case they have HG again.

“Have you tried ginger?” 

Really Susan, you’re REALLY going to ask me if I’ve tried ginger? I was so desperate in the beginning that I tried every morning sickness remedy going. There is nothing that will relieve HG – especially not fucking ginger. I’m on a concoction of different anti-sickness drugs prescribed by my doctor – and even on those I’m still sick pretty much every single day!

I know people are only trying to help when they say the things I’ve listed above but when you’re literally at death’s door and weight is dropping off every time you look in the mirror, it’s hard to be appreciative and you just wish someone could take it away from you – even for five minutes.

If you know someone suffering with HG, please be sympathetic and educate yourself on what it’s really like (https://www.pregnancysicknesssupport.org.uk/help/women-suffering/hyperemesis-gravidarum/ has some great advice/tips) for them. Maybe suggest things like: “How can I help you?”, “Would you like me to feed your animals for you? “Shall I take the kids out for a bit?”

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