Home » Pregnancy Sickness

Tag: Pregnancy Sickness

5 Ways You Can Make a Difference Nothing Is Too Small Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Hyperemesis Gravidarum – 5 Ways You Can Make a Difference

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.

5 Ways You Can Make a Difference Nothing Is Too Small Hyperemesis Gravidarum

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!

 

 

International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day 15th May

Together We Can Achieve Great Things (Thoughts on International Hyperemesis Awareness Day)

International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day 15th May

Today is International Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) Awareness Day, an event which will always hold a very special place in my heart. I may not write much about Hyperemesis any more, but it is something I will never forget. Over the past 3 years I have seen awareness of the condition grow, leading to greater support and better care for families affected by it, in a way that I could never have imagined when suffering from Hyperemesis myself in 2011. And that’s all because individual voices have come together to enact greater change than any single voice could.

Now don’t get me wrong, individuals can make a huge amount of difference. I’ve seen it happen so many times within the HG world: the woman who dedicates vast amounts of time to supporting other women who are suffering through a hell that only she can understand; the doctor who goes above and beyond to ensure that a patient in their care receives the best possible treatment; the team of midwives who agree to meet and listen to a woman share what HG was like for her and how to best support other women like her; and the partners, family and friends of a sufferer who rally around her to make every day as easy as possible, and attend medical appointments to help advocate for her when she is unable to do so herself. These are all really important ways in which individuals make a massive difference to those around them. And we should never underestimate how much change one person can make! But it is through working together that lasting change on a large scale is achieved.

The changes I have seen over the past three years have come about because many, many individuals have come together for a common cause. Multiple charities have formed working relationships which enable them to achieve more together than they ever could alone. The international collaboration of the two big HG Charities, Pregnancy Sickness Support (PSS) here in the UK and The HER Foundation in the US, sparked the idea for an International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day. And a recent collaboration between PSS and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) enabled the production of a report on the number of women feeling like they have no choice but to terminate a much wanted pregnancy due to Hyperemesis. This report led to further media coverage, including mentions on the front page of national newspapers and an interview on Women’s Hour, something which may not have happened without working together.

Even within the individual charities themselves, there are great developments occurring, and this is all because of the sheer number of people supporting them. Take PSS, for example: the active forum is only thriving because of the many members supporting each other through the opportunity offered to them on there; the Support Network only works because of the amount of dedicated volunteers who offer their time and support to those in need (it also relies on many others spreading the word about its existence, as well as funding for staff to coordinate it and further developments); and the research undertaken often relies on the various voices of those who have suffered coming forward and sharing their stories.

This time last year my life was pretty much overtaken by the cause – I was working vast amount of hours every week as the Volunteer Coordinator for PSS and also working on final edits of Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The Definitive Guide. I lived in a world that was full of equal amounts of desperation from those currently suffering and passion for change from those who had survived HG. And despite personally dedicating huge amounts of time and energy to the cause (too much, in retrospect, for a healthy work/life balance), I never once lost sight of the fact that it was the multitude of individual voices that were making the vast changes I was lucky enough to see happening right before my eyes.

My life is very different now to what it was this time last year. 12 months ago I was burning out, fast. Despite the fact that there were many, many people working together to enact change there just weren’t enough of us to make change on the scale that we wanted to. It is a battle that so many causes face, and it is one that is only won through people coming together so that their individual voices are amplified by those singing the same tune. The greatest lesson that I took from my time with PSS was this – one person can change the world, but only through working with others.

So today I am asking you to think about what is important to you. What do you feel passionate about and what do you wish you could change in the world? Please don’t ever think that you cannot make a difference, because you can. Don’t compare yourself to others and feel that you aren’t strong enough or wise enough or talented enough – everyone has something that they can give that is unique to them and will, when given the opportunity, make the world of difference. Whether you can give 10 hours a week or just the odd hour here or there, whether you have specific skills, knowledge and experience or are simply passionate about the cause, and whether you feel confident approaching others or terrified of making that first call, please do consider taking that leap and contacting a group or organisation who need your support and will welcome whatever you can give.

Together we can achieve great things… and it all begins with you!

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The Definitive Guide

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The Definitive Guide – Our Book is Out Now!

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The Definitive Guide

I can barely believe it… 3 years after the end of my own HG pregnancy, and after many, many hours spent pouring over research, talking to other sufferers and survivors, and then writing and editing until my eyes felt like they would pop out of my head, the book is finally here!

Excuse me whist I squeal for just a minute or two… *squeeeeee*

I am anxiously awaiting my own “in print” copy (my co-author has hers already!) and then I shall update this post with a celebratory photo. But for now, let me tell you more about it…

The book is 232 pages long, packed full of information based on the latest research, suggestions and anecdotes from other sufferers and survivors, and a whole pile of resources to help anyone who is currently suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, those who have previously suffered, and those who are planning another pregnancy.

But it isn’t just for sufferers, oh no, we wanted it to be THE definitive guide and so we have also dedicated chapters to partners and carers as well as healthcare professionals too. What more could you want?

Not much, it seems, because despite the books still being “preorder only” on Amazon we have already hit #4 on the bestseller list for the category “Pregnancy and Childbirth” and we only started sharing the link at around 8:30pm last night… that’s #4 on the bestsellers list in our first 12 hours of selling, 12 hours which were overnight I might add! I’m not sure either Caitlin or myself can quite believe it!

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The Definitive Guide #4 Besteller on Amazon

The book is aimed specifically at a UK audience, as we have based an awful lot of the treatment chapters on the NHS services available. However, there is still a vast amount of information available for sufferers and survivors elsewhere in the world, and so the book is also available through amazon.com as well as amazon.co.uk

It is currently only available in paperback, at a price of £10 per copy. However an eBook version is coming very soon and we will let you know as soon as it is available!

I’d like to take a moment now to thank everyone who has supported me (and Caitlin) throughout this entire process. I’m pretty sure I probably sounded crazy when I announced to my family that I was going to write a book about HG when my son was only 3 months old. I’m pretty sure I was slightly crazy, to be honest, having seen just how much time and effort it has taken!! But I have been supported from start to finish from family, friends and the online community alike and for that I want to say a  massive thank you. I would not be celebrating today if it weren’t for that support.

Thank you!

All that is left to say is that I do hope you will go and buy a copy of the book and find it useful. If you do, please consider leaving a review for us on amazon, as that will increase our exposure and ranking. I’d also love to hear from you here on the blog if you have bought and read the book – let me know what you think.

If you are a journalist or PR agency and would like to talk to me further regarding my own experience, my work for the charity Pregnancy Sickness Support or my book “Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The Definitive Guide” then please do get in touch using my contact form or call me on 07428 119956 

Being Interviewed live on Good Morning Britain

Talking About Hyperemesis Gravidarum In The Media

I’m currently sitting on a train, heading back home to my one and only beautiful HG Survivor and reflecting on how my experience during pregnancy has completely changed the direction my life has taken.

Had you told me a few years ago that I would be appearing on national breakfast tv to talk about a medical condition I would have thought you were crazy. But that’s what I did today…

GMB 1

Photo courtesy of Emma Harris

As you may know, I have devoted the past 3 years of my life to raising awareness of the truly awful pregnancy complication Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). This has involved working on a book about HG (which I started way back in 2012, finding a co-author in Spewing Mummy in 2013) and working for the charity Pregnancy Sickness Support. I have worked tirelessly to promote the charity’s work, support other sufferers and survivors, and get word out that that this is not morning sickness!

GMB 2

 

Photo courtesy of Emma Harris

Which leads me to this morning, when I found myself sitting on the sofa of Good Morning Britain, talking with Dr. Hilary Jones and the presenters Charlotte and Ben about my own experience of HG. Why? Because with news of the Duchess of Cambridge suffering from HG for a second time, there has been a fair amount of media interest in the subject.

Understandably, the response to this has been varied. Some sufferers are over the moon that HG is being presented to the public in this way, having faced lots of criticism over their own pregnancy sickness in the past. Others are disappointed that it is still being described as “acute morning sickness” and that comments about trying to avoid medications in the first trimester or trying ginger are still being offered up as advice.

But here’s the thing for me… HG is making the news! And whilst we still have a long way to go, we are getting there. 

Whilst there were comments about ginger, it was made clear that this may not apply to HG (it doesn’t) and whilst there is hesitancy over prescribing medications in the first trimester, they are not being disregarded completely. We are not hearing that there is “nothing they can do” or that treatments are harmful, both of which are common messages sufferers often come across.

And whilst my short interview may not have provided the opportunity to discuss these issues in more detail (my co-author and colleague had this opportunity later on with Phil and Holly on This Morning!) it did provide media attention that is so very needed.

This Morning

Caitlin on the This Morning sofa, photo courtesy of Emma Harris

Let me tell you something… whilst I talk about HG on a daily basis, whilst I have written a book on the subject and talk to sufferers every single day, going on live tv is on a whole different level.

And talking about my own experience, well that was pretty crazy too! I tend to try and keep the focus on general experiences of HG sufferers rather than my own personal experience. This is partly because this more detached focus is needed in my work both for the charity and on the book. But it is also, in a larger part, because I have been burned too many times by people labelling me as “milking it” or a “drama queen” and I struggle with that. A lot.

I do what I do to try and help others – after all, I shall never be having another pregnancy myself, so all this work has no personal benefit to me! I do it because I do not want others to suffer the way I did, because I am the perfect example of someone whose HG went undiagnosed and untreated for far too long. Here are a few personal facts for you:

  • I was never officially diagnosed with HG
  • I was given treatment early on which made no difference and then told there was nothing else they could do, despite multiple trips to the GP, until my 5th month
  • I lost over 10% of my pre-pregnancy weight
  • I was surviving on approx. 300ml of liquid per day at my worst point
  • I was refused IV hydration or admission to hospital, despite being told I was “clearly dehydrated” by the nurse assessing me
  • I was told various things from healthcare professionals including “it’s just because you are worried about the pregnancy” and “sometimes you just have to ‘put up and shut up'”

As such, I have doubted my experience for a long, long time. I haven’t felt a true part of the HG Community of women who had multiple admissions, knew all about ketones, or were prescribed a variety of antiemetics. I felt like a fraud for a very long time… yet I clearly had HG and I clearly needed treatment. Based on the facts you cannot dispute that, and yet I still question myself. And that is the legacy that HG leaves, especially undiagnosed and poorly treated HG.

HG stole the joy of pregnancy from me. It stole my dream of having a larger family (we’re sticking at one child). And it stole an awful lot of confidence from me, confidence which I worked extremely hard to develop over many years.

Going on live tv was utterly terrifying in many ways, especially knowing just how many other women were relying on me to give an accurate portrayal of the sheer hell that is HG. I have no previous media experience of this kind (freelance writing or social media, yes, but tv and radio, not at all). And I am certainly not used to talking about it from a personal perspective. But my experience has been so profound that I know I would do anything and everything I can to create change for all those other women out there who are suffering now or have suffered in the past. And if that includes going on live tv, then so be it!

GMB 3

If you are a journalist and would like to talk to me further regarding my own experience, my work for the charity Pregnancy Sickness Support or my book “Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The Definitive Guide” then please do get in touch using my contact form or call me on 07428 119956

For more information regarding the above topics, please see the following:

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The Definitive Guide
One Child Family
My Pregnancy Journey

You may also be interested in the following posts I wrote during the Duchess of Cambridge’s first pregnancy, regarding the importance of accurate reporting.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The Importance of Awareness and Accurate Reporting