Once symptoms of HG have begun, it can be difficult to imagine facing the months ahead of you. It’s a good idea to have a strategy to help you get through each day, one step at a time.
Read as much about HG as you can find - visit our page of Useful Links for good, knowledgeable sources of information. Become an expert in what’s happening to your body and then educate your partner, children, parents, friends, co-workers and other caregivers. Yes, even your doctors may need you to provide them with further reading. Knowing what to expect from HG, what might trigger or exacerbate your symptoms or what medication might provide relief will go a long way towards helping you feeling in control and capable of handling this illness.
A diary can help you keep track of when are the best times for you to eat, how much you have managed to eat, and what fluids you have been able to retain. In the event you need to present to ED, or check in with your GP, this will be an easy way to enlighten them about your condition.
Keeping a diary can also help you to track what makes you feel better or worse. For example, you may find that relaxation in the morning helps with your nausea throughout the day. Or you may find certain movements, such as suddenly standing from a resting position, trigger nausea. It is important to keep track of how you are feeling in order to become more aware of ways you can find some relief.
Rest is important to any pregnant woman, regardless of how well she is feeling. Many women with severe NVP, and HG, find that regular rests are key to helping manage their symptoms. This kind of nausea is similar to motion sickness, where keeping still can offer a slight reprieve from the sickness.
If resting works to alleviate your symptoms, it’s worth trying to arrange your day so that you can rest as much as possible. This may make you feel guilty - like you should be doing something else with that precious time. If you begin to feel this way remind yourself that it’s what you and your baby need. Every pregnancy is different, and needs to be treated in it’s own way - this might just be yours.
All pregnant women are encouraged to take a multivitamin that contains 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. However, some brands may exacerbate your HG symptoms - you may even find it difficult to swallow the tablet. This is something important to raise with your obstetrician, midwife or GP so that alternatives can be investigated. Some pregnant women experience low iron, and may be encouraged to take a supplement to improve it. Again, this can be something that worsens your symptoms and should be discussed with your care provider if you’re struggling.
A lot of pregnant women experience a heightened sense of smell and this can be a particularly intense trigger for women with HG. The smell of cooking, especially fatty foods, coffee, tea, cigarette smoke, or perfume are the most common offenders. Try to avoid anything that heightens your nausea, or induces vomiting. Keep a list of your trigger smells handy and share it with anyone you spend time with. Avoiding these smells is the best way to combat their effects.
Unfortunately, HG is a widely misunderstood condition. It leaves many women undiagnosed or feeling like their symptoms aren’t being taken seriously. Many women find it difficult to communicate the severity of their condition to the people around them. Remember, you have done nothing to deserve this illness and you have the right to be treated with the utmost care and compassion.
You might find it helpful to have a short spiel prepared for when people ask questions about your pregnancy or condition. Try including that HG is far more severe than regular morning sickness, and that it is incredibly rare. This site is full of stats that are helpful to use with anyone doubting the struggle of HG.
Talking to family and close friends about HG can also be incredibly difficult. Your partner and family may feel like there is nothing that they can do to help you. Let loved ones know that their continued love and support is appreciated and will help you through this difficult time. If a caregiver asks how you are feeling try to be as honest as you can and never be afraid to ask for help.
It is particularly important that you feel empowered to speak to health care professionals about your symptoms. A lot of women find themselves being dismissed, ignored or doubted by the doctors charged with their care. If you do not feel like you are receiving adequate treatment, or that your practitioner has the required experience to manage HG, you are within your rights to ask for more support.
Below are some additional strategies for communicating with your healthcare provider(s):
Take some information about NVP or HG to your consultations
Ask your health care professional to contact HG Australia
Go to the consultation with someone who has seen first hand what you are going through can help to communicate your experience
Take as much information about your body weight, fluid intake, and urination frequency as possible