This time last year, my life was overtaken by Hyperemesis – and I wasn’t even pregnant!
News of the Duchess of Cambridge’s second pregnancy meant that there was an increased interest in the condition, and I raced down to London at extremely short notice for an interview on Good Morning Britain. On top of that, our book was nearing its publication date, so we were full steam ahead on last minute prep. And all of this around my usual work for Pregnancy Sickness Support (PSS).
I began to feel swamped, big time, and it only got worse. It is very difficult to describe the effect it all had on me, because quite frankly last Autumn almost broke me and it’s something I would like to forget in many ways. But the reality is, I don’t think I’ll ever stop caring about the cause and that means finding new ways of doing this.
The past few months have given me some space and time to figure out where I fit in the HG Community, and the truth is I’m not quite sure I do any more. But that doesn’t mean that I cannot support the cause, simply that I am no longer an active part of it.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum – The Definitive Guide will continue to help current sufferers and survivors, because the hours of work put into it are now paying off. And the posts on my blog, written over the past 4 years, still continue to get hits from web searches regarding Hyperemesis. Even when I am not actively writing about it, I am still able to spread the word. And that has been the biggest lesson for me this year – you don’t have to be on the front line to make a difference.
I also know that there are so many people out there with a wealth of skills and experiences that can be put to good use in improving the care, support and treatment of women with Hyperemesis, if only they knew how. So, with that in mind, I thought I’d put together a list of 5 ways you can make a difference.
1. If you feel like you can offer one-to-one peer support to another woman suffering from Hyperemesis, do register as a volunteer with PSS. This isn’t for everybody, I know – sometimes the trauma from your own pregnancy is too great to support another, and sometimes you’re so busy balancing work and home life that being available to support is just too much pressure. However, for those who do feel able to give support via phone, text or email, it can be a thoroughly rewarding role.
2. Share your experience, to raise awareness. I know this isn’t always easy, and it can often lead to difficult responses from friends and strangers alike who just don’t get it, but the best way to create change is to first create awareness of the need for change. Write about it on your blog, or contact a blogger you know and ask if you can write a guest post for them. Share a video on youtube, or write to your local newspaper and radio station asking if they might interview you. If you’re happy to talk to the national press, join a group set up for that – just be sure that you trust the journalist and/or editor not to put an unpleasant “spin” on the piece.
3. If you don’t feel comfortable writing or sharing your own story, why not share those that others have written. It’s so easy with so many social media platforms available at your fingertips… simply search for specific terms such as ‘Hyperemesis’, ‘HG’ and even ‘Morning Sickness’ (yes, I know it isn’t morning sickness, but you’d be amazed at how many articles you will find about Hyperemesis that only come up when using that search term). Remember hashtags are used on many platforms and you can also sign up for Google Alerts to get articles straight to your inbox. Spreading the word about the reality of HG, the work that is being done to improve women’s experiences, and ways in which people can get involved is so important to creating and maintaining that change.
4. Donate some money or raise funds to help keep services running. You can do this via direct debit monthly payments, one-off fundraising events such as a coffee morning or a sports challenge, selling items on eBay and setting a percentage to go to charity, or even whilst doing your weekly shop by using one of the many fundraising apps such as Give As You Live. And don’t forget that if you are a UK tax payer, you can register for Gift Aid, meaning that the charity can claim a further 25% at no cost to you!
5. And finally, why not look at the skills you have and think about how they could be used to help the cause. I am a firm believer that everybody has something to give, you just have to figure out what that may be. Are you super-organised? Why not offer to help organise events! An experienced PA? What about offering to set up a group calendar that can be used to keep everybody up-to-date and plan ahead for social media campaigns around key events! Talking of social media, are you forever glued to your phone? Why not give a few hours a week to support specific campaigns! Accountants could help with book-keeping, and nurses could raise awareness with colleagues. Chefs could offer ideas of quick, easy, low odour meals and those in retail could offer advice on corporate sponsorship. The way your skills can be used are only limited by your own imagination – so how do you think you could help?
I’m sure there are so many more ways in which you can get involved and make a difference! But I hope that these five provide a place to begin. Whether you can offer 5 hours a week or 5 days a year, your help will make a difference – nothing is too small!