Even the healthiest pregnancy is a time of mixed emotions and great change. The never ending nausea and vomiting of HG only heightens this experience. You may be stuck at home for an extended period, unable to partake in normal activities, or do things you normally enjoy and that make you feel like yourself. Add to this, the widespread ignorance of the condition and it’s impact and you may find yourself feeling isolated, misunderstood and lonely.
Studies have shown that as many as 50% of women with severe NVP and HG will develop anxiety and/or depression over the course of their pregnancy. Not only would this further impact your quality of life during pregnancy, it puts you at greater risk of developing postpartum depression and anxiety. Trying to stay on top of your mental wellbeing while you’re pregnant is an important part of managing HG.
People, especially women who’ve experienced regular morning sickness, may attempt to advise you on ways to treat your symptoms. Many women report that ginger is most often suggested as a cure-all for NVP. While, there’s limited research to suggest that ginger has any effect on regular morning sickness, there’s nothing that suggests it as a useful treatment for NVP or HG. It’s important to remember that, though annoying or hurtful, these comments are often well intentioned and come from a good place. This doesn’t mean you have to be quietly accepting of any and all crazy advice you may receive - if you feel up to it, try using it as an opportunity to educate the people around you about HG.
The best piece of advice we can offer when it comes to taking care of your mental wellbeing while living with HG is this - if you can, seek professional support. Whether you find a private psychologist, psychiatrist or counsellor who has experience with perinatal mental health, or work with the perinatal mental health team at your delivering hospital, getting expert support will go along way.
We also recommend engaging with PANDA - Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia - a charitable organisation that specialises in helping women and their families during pregnancy and the first year of your child’s life. They have excellent resources and support channels for all kinds of mental health concerns.
Join the HGA Facebook support group to connect with other women who are currently, or have previously, experienced HG. There’s nothing like speaking to someone who knows exactly what you’re going through and can empathise or offer tried and tested practical solutions.
We are working toward setting up a national network of volunteers for a peer-to-peer support system. This will allow current sufferers to be paired with a previous sufferer for support, validation and advice. We will keep you updated via our newsletter and social media channels once we have this in motion.
Please feel free to contact us, at HGA, directly via the contact form or email. We have a few ex-sufferers on our board, including our Managing Director and founder, Caitlin Kay-Smith. There’s no one better placed to help you through this experience than women who have already survived. And that’s what we’re here to do.
Things to remember
Ask for help - with whatever you and whenever you can. Whether this is from friends and family or by engaging the services of professionals for help with cleaning and other chores.
There are 280 days in a full-term pregnancy - and while that sounds like a long time to live with HG, it means that there is an endpoint. Even if your HG lasts for the duration of your pregnancy, which is does for many women, the day you deliver your baby is also the day your HG leaves you. While it may take some time for your body to return to normal, the nausea and vomiting should subside as soon as you deliver your placenta.
This is not your fault - there is nothing you have done or not done to land you with HG. You could not have prevented it or predicted it or planned for it. So, don’t beat yourself up about it. Give yourself permission to do whatever it takes to survive this period of time. Anything that you miss or ignore or neglect can be made up for when you’re well again.
There’s no such thing as a perfect pregnancy - we’re sold the idea that pregnancy, and pregnant women, are supposed to fit into a particular box. Having HG is the total opposite of this ideal. But the perfect pregnancy doesn’t exist, and the perfect pregnant woman isn’t real. Having HG is a horrible thing to have to endure but this is your pregnancy and you have to do it your way. If that means having to stay in bed all day, every day for nine months - then at least you’ll get to get through all the Netflix bingeing you need to before baby arrives.
Other sources of support
Gidget Foundation Australia
T: 1300 851 758
Gidget offers a free video counselling service for new and expecting mums who are struggling with their mental health and are unable to have a face to face consultation. Up to 10 free video counselling sessions are available through their Start Talking program. However, you will need a referral and a mental health care plan from your GP to use the service.
T: 1300 224 636
E: fill in the contact form here
With lots of options for points of contact - including online forums - BeyondBlue are a great source of support when you’re struggling and can’t leave the house. You can even read the stories of other parents through their Speak Up initiative.
Pregnancy, Birth & Baby
T: 1800 882 436
The Pregnancy, Birth and Baby maternal child health nurses are available seven days a week over the phone or via video call between the hours of 7am and midnight (AET)