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Surviving Your Hyperemesis Diagnosis


Over the last few years it seems that our media has been obsessed with pregnancy. Just a quick scan of the tabloids while in line at the grocery store confirms that baby news sells. Snooki, Guiliana Rancic, Jessica Simpson, and Beyonce… all celebs who became first-time moms in 2012 (and I know more about their pregnancies, births, and motherhoods than I would care to admit).

More often than not, when celebrities talk to magazines about pregnancy or motherhood, it’s in gushing terms. They loved being pregnant. They love changing diapers. They love getting up at night. And most of the time, their joy is relatable to us as well. Motherhood is an amazing blessing. But lately I’ve been incredibly thankful for a celebrity who has brought attention to a not-so-nice side of pregnancy– Kate Middleton’s experience with Hyperemesis gravidarum.

Since the official announcement from the Palace regarding Kate’s hospitalization, Hyperemesis gravidarum (or HG) has been described in various terms in the media ranging from “morning sickness for the rest of us commoners” to “extreme morning sickness.” So what exactly is it?

HG effects 0.3-2% of pregnant women and can include the following symptoms:

  • severe and persistent nausea
  • vomiting frequently enough to require hospitalization
  • dehydration
  • vitamin and mineral deficiencies as a result of vomiting
  • weight loss

Ok… not exactly “morning sickness.” So what’s a mama to do?

Understand that you have a condition. The moment my doctor gave my a diagnosis of HG I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. I wasn’t just being a wimp about my first trimester; I had an actual debilitating medical condition. HG usually requires medical intervention of some kind. Don’t be afraid to ask for it (I have called my nurse practitioner in tears so don’t you be afraid to do the same!). Keep in regular contact with your doctor or midwife.

Give yourself the gift of time. It’s going to take time to recover. With my first pregnancy, I felt like a normal person around 16 weeks. This pregnancy, I started to feel better around 14 weeks. I had recurring bouts until delivery, but once the second trimester settled in, I could function. Be patient with yourself. Even on a daily basis, give yourself time. Our pediatrician gave me some great advice about HG; she told me that I could expect to get one or two things done each day, and that I should feel proud of that. Even with medication, you may only have a few functional hours each day. That’s okay. Again, you have a serious medical condition.

Ask for help. This is the time to outsource. My pregnancy was the worst kept secret because we asked for help from everyone. I swallowed my inclination to do it all on my own and asked our friends and family to help with childcare, dog-walking, errands, and providing meals. Their help was a huge blessing for our family, and helped take some of the pressure off my husband who cared for everything while I was practically bedridden.

Find another mama who has suffered from HG. Support is so huge during this time.

Know that it will pass. It may be a long nine months, but your pregnancy will end and your reward will be so great. Besides, labor will feel so short in comparison! A few hours of pain? No problem. You made it through ten plus weeks of HG. You are a warrior. And you’re just like a princess.

[AUTHOR: Becca Eliasen]

September 5, 2014

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