For support people
HG is not just a challenge for the mother-to-be, but for her loved ones too. The negative ramifications can be wide reaching and we want to be able to support your support networks too. The only thing worse than having HG, is watching your partner, daughter, sister or friend suffer during what should be an exciting time for everyone.
This website is full of resources designed to help you and your loved ones navigate a pregnancy with NVP or HG. Remember, you can always contact us if you are struggling to support your partner, or other loved one with HG.
Partners + Carers
It can be hard for partners and carers to understand the lived experience of having HG. Even if you share their home and witness first hand the impact of a woman’s symptoms, there’s no way to fully explain the reality of unrelenting nausea, constant vomiting, dehydration, malnutrition, and exhaustion. Not to mention the mental impact of carrying the guilt, shame, anxiety, depression, isolation, loneliness and fear that accompanies it.
Women will rely on their partners to pick up the slack while they are incapacitated by HG. This will run the full gamut of responsibilities from house work and child rearing to shouldering the financial burden if they are out of work. Partners may also be called upon to advocate with health care providers if women are too sick to detail their symptoms and experiences. Partners will be the only people able to offer first hand accounts of how much a woman has eaten or drunk, how many times they’ve vomited and other information vital to doctors.
Partners may also face the challenge of having to educate themselves, extended family and friends, and even healthcare practitioners on the condition and available treatment options.
Family + Friends
Watching a loved one suffer with nausea and vomiting in pregnancy or hyperemesis gravidarum can be really tough and it can be harder still to know how best to help and support her. Here are some tips and advice from women who have been through it about what helped them:
Text her regularly to let her know you are thinking of her
Don't be upset if she doesn't return texts or phone calls straight away; it can be really hard to look at screens or talk on the phone when you are feeling/being sick
Avoid being overly 'gushy' and excited about the baby and pregnancy; she may be feeling resentful about the baby and depressed about the pregnancy even if it was much wanted and planned. By being too excited you may make her feel even more isolated
Try not to question her about the safety of medications she is on; if her doctor has prescribed them then it is because she needs them. If you have concerns then have a look at our Resources page for further information about the medications
If you are able, then offer to look after any older children for a couple of hours as and when you can
Remember that smells, bright lights, loud noises and other sensory stimulation can all bring on vomiting so try to reduce these factors for her (especially smells)
If you bring food for her family then make sure it is not strong smelling or containing garlic (cold food is best) and don't be upset if she doesn't want to eat any of the food you have brought
Vomiting in front of others can be humiliating for some women so be sensitive to this
Try to listen without giving advice, or telling her about other peoples’ glowing pregnancies or the woman you know who was sick all the time but still went into work. Remember, pregnancy sickness has a whole spectrum of severity from mild to life threatening!
Bare in mind that some of the medications can cause mild drowsiness and confusion; be aware that she may find conversation a struggle; it can be nice for her to listen to you, though, so don’t feel like you have to sit silently
If she is struggling to use a computer but would like to access support via text through this website then offer to fill in the online form for her
It can be great to have visitors when she feels up to it but here are some do's and don'ts for visiting times:
Offer to pick up any shopping or prescriptions on your way round
Bring some magazines and books (but bare in mind she may not be up to reading/watching right then)
Download some audio-books
If you go to the loo, give it a quick clean - there is not a lot worse than vomiting into an unclean toilet!!!
If she is bed bound then offer to change/wash the sheets for her
If you put any laundry on for her don't use scented fabric softener
If she is struggling with young children then offer to play with them while she has a lie down
Try to do any dishwashing related to your visit before you leave
Eat garlic or curry the immediately before a visit
Smoke before visiting
Bring flowers as a gift; as well meaning as they are the smell and colours can trigger vomiting
Expect her to make tea and coffee or offer any food for you. If you would like something, help yourself or go without for that short period
Bring noisy children with you, if you can avoid it
Focus on the pregnancy or the illness; try to talk about 'normal' things
Leave any mess for her to clear up
If you visit a friend or relative who is suffering with hyperemesis gravidarum and you are concerned that they are very dehydrated (dry lips and tongue, dry skin etc) or they seem confused or drowsy then call their doctor or take them to hospital.
take care of yourself too
While the most important part of having a loved one with HG is caring for them - you shouldn’t forget to look after yourself as well. You will feel tired, stressed and frustrated by the situation and all the added pressure you find yourself managing.
Find and accept as much help as you can with your older children, the running of your house and all the little jobs that are usually shared between you both.
Take some time out to do an activity that you enjoy. As long as you’re able to organise someone to be at home while you do so, there’s no reason to feel guilty about take some time for yourself.
Don’t bottle up your stress or feelings about the situation. It sucks and you’re allowed to feel rubbish about it. Seek professional support or talk to a trusted friend or family member to get your feelings off your chest.
Remember to eat and sleep properly - you cannot be a good carer if you aren’t in good shape yourself.
The silver lining of HG is that there is an endpoint - and you will have your partner, friend or family member back soon. Hang in there!