I can talk to you first-hand about this debilitating condition after having it for the guts of 7 months with my second son. That was 16 years ago but I remember it as if it was yesterday because it traumatised me so much.
For me it started really early on in the pregnancy, before I even did a pregnancy test ! But as time went on, it just got worse and worse. I found it impossible to keep anything down, not even water. I could barely walk up the stairs with the lack of energy. Everything was a huge struggle because I had no fuel in my body to keep me going. What I never knew was, that morning, or should I say, “all day” sickness could be so bad. It was like having a bad tummy bug for 7 months. Even doing my shop online initiated a bout of nausea when I was on the meat aisle 🤣🤣. What was also very difficult was my inability to plan anything in advance because I just didn’t know if it was going to be an okay day, or a bad day. Also, I didn’t feel great in the car. The slightest bump in the road could initiate that dreadful feeling.
The one fear I had at this time, was for the life of my unborn baby. The experts tell you about all the nutrients and good foods you need to be taking in to support this new life inside you. The guilt and fear I felt for not being able to keep anything down, was huge and also for the fact that I had not been taking Folic Acid or any multi-vitamin beforehand, as this little baby had not been planned. However, thankfully the growing baby got everything it needed from my body. My fat, my calcium and everything else it needed !
I persevered with this bad morning sickness until my first visit with my Consultant in the Coombe at 12 weeks. I told him how sick I was and and was prescribed an anti-nausea tablet which you melt under your tongue. It did work a bit but like all pregnant ladies, I was a bit fearful about taking medication during the pregnancy, so I only took it when I was really bad and couldn’t get out of bed.
At 20 weeks, I went to the GP to ask when this sickness was ever going to stop. For most women it stops at around 12 weeks but for 1% of ladies, it is ongoing. At this stage they took me in to the Coombe. They kept me on a drip for days in a bid to rehydrate me and get my ketones down. It was a blessed relief.
I did go on to have a very healthy baby boy who weighed 7lb 2oz at 38 weeks so not bad going for someone who couldn’t eat !!
So, How Did I Get Through It ?
- Well, I lived off Complan which is a supplement drink. I tried to sip it to get some goodness in to me.
- My arms were decorated with seabands which I felt helped me a great deal. They work by applying continuous pressure on the acupressure point (Nei-Kuan Point) on the wrist which reduces the nausea. You buy them in the chemist and they can be washed.
- Loads of people advised ginger tea, but I don’t think it helped me any, but it might help you.
- I accepted all the help I could get, especially with having a 6 month old baby too. Rest is very important.
- Medication from the doctor. Nowadays, Cariban seems to be the medication of choice.
- Try eating small amounts more regularly. Sometimes eating can also settle the nausea a bit, especially on days when you feel slightly better.
- If you are struggling to keep water down, try sucking on an ice pop or a piece of watermelon.
Hyperemisis Gravidarum – The facts
- 70%-80% of women will get morning sickness but only 1% of women are affected by this severe form of morning sickness.
- It can be caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy.
- If your mother or sister suffered from it, you could suffer from it too.
- A lack of B6 in the body can make symptoms worse. I have to say, when they put me on the B vitamin drip in the hospital, I felt great for about a week !
When Should You Get Help ?
- If you can’t keep fluids down
- If your urine is dark in colour
- If you are losing weight
- If you feel faint
- If you haven’t passed urine for 8 hours
- Pain on urinating
- Blood in urine
- If you’re vomiting blood
What Can I do to Help You ?
A couple of treatments that may help you at this time is Pregnancy Reflexology. This treatment is very relaxing and will give you an hour out to just rest. It will also very gently help to balance the endocrine system giving some relief to the nausea.
I also do Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping) to help relieve the symptoms of nausea and the stress that goes with this debilitating condition.
Who Do You Contact For Help ?
- First port of call is your GP who can do a urine test to check for dehydration and arrange appropriate action.
- Your obstetrician, if you have one.
- Contact the Emergency Department at the Rotunda Hospital Dublin on 1800 522 687
- Contact the National Maternity Hospital on 01 6373100
- Contact University Maternity Hospital Limerick on +353 (0) 61 234850
- Contact Cork University Maternity Hospital (021) 492 0500
- Visit www.hyperemesis.ie
To this day, I will be forever grateful to all my family for all their help, especially my sister Helen for stepping in to the breach to help out with my then 6 month old elder son. 💗
The Importance of Eating Well for The Placenta
What a miracle pregnancy is. Did you know that when you get pregnant, you are not only growing a new baby, you are also growing a whole new organ called the Placenta. So, as you struggle with nausea, sore boobs, fatigue and food cravings, your body is tirelessly working in the background to grow your baby and this vital lifeline between you both. That is why it is important to eat healthily and feed this vital organ all it needs to support your pregnancy going forward.
What is the Placenta ?
The Placenta starts growing not long after fertilization, when the blastocyst implants in the uterine wall. It is composed of fetal and maternal tissue. At this point, it secretes a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and it is the presence of this hormone that indicates if you are pregnant or not when you get tested.
Like a tree, the Placenta grows roots deep into the lining of the womb, accessing nourishing supplies of blood and nutrients to feed the growing baby. If the lining is poor, the placenta cannot grow a good root system as it is unable to get the nutrients it needs to grow itself and sustain the pregnancy going forward. This can cause issues to arise during the pregnancy. This is why it is a good idea to prepare and look after your body, eating healthy and nutritious foods for a couple of months before you get pregnant. This will lay down the path for the healthy outcome of your pregnancy and helps you avoid complications later on.
What does the Placenta do ?
From around Week 10 the Placenta is fully formed and takes over the role of feeding and nourishing your baby. It connects to your baby via the umbilical cord and acts as the baby’s lungs, taking in oxygen and getting rid of carbon dioxide. It also supplies the baby with nutrients and antibodies and removes waste.
Around this 10/12 week mark, the Placenta also takes over the production of Progesterone and if you have morning sickness, it will usually cease when this happens. If your morning sickness continues, it is because you have higher concentrations of a protein called GDF15 but this is a good sign that the Placenta is doing its job.
How to look after your Placenta
In the first couple of months of pregnancy, the baby will draw it’s nutrients from your body so it’s important that you are in tip top shape. Some important nutrients are;
- Folate this vital supplement protects against neural tube defects such as spina bifida, and is especially important to take in the first trimester. It can be found in wholemeal bread and fortified cereals but you’ll get your RDA with a supplement as well.
- Calcium is a mineral that helps your baby’s bones, teeth, heart, muscles and nerves develop. Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt, broccoli and kale.
- Choline – this is essential for production of cell membranes and cell division and can be found in foods including bananas, fish, eggs, nuts, pulses, soya beans and wholegrains
- DHA Omega 3 – DHA Omega 3 is a crucial component of the brain, eyes and nerve cells and can be found in foods such as avocados, nuts, seeds, eggs and oily fish. Taking a supplement will ensure you build up a ready supply for when your baby reaches week 28 and goes through the rapid development phase.
- Vitamin D – helps your baby’s bones and teeth grow. It also helps your body to absorb calcium. Good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, like salmon, milk and cereals that have vitamin D added to it
- B vitamins – these help the body convert food into energy and are important in early pregnancy because they play a part in the formation of new cells. They can be found in a variety of foods including wholemeal bread and cereals, cheese, eggs, fish and lean meats.
- Iodine – assists in the production of the thyroid hormones aiding brain development. It helps to maintain cells and maintains a healthy metabolic rate. Fish, shellfish and edible seaweed contains the most. Note: most seafoods should be avoided during pregnancy, so it is recommended you take a supplement to get your RDA. Most good multivitamin and mineral supplements for pregnancy will include this.
- Zinc – is vital for tissue growth and repair, the immune system and the processing of fat, protein and carbohydrates. Found in beef, nuts wholemeal bread, fish, meat and dairy products
Common Placenta issues
Sometimes issues can arise with the Placenta during pregnancy. If you have any of these issues, your doctor will monitor it closely. Issues that may arise are;
This is when the placenta locates itself at the bottom of the womb, close to the cervical opening. When this happens, you may have to have a C-section.
This is when the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus during pregnancy or birth and can be a serious situation. Symptoms include vaginal bleeding and back or abdominal pain.
When the Placenta is embedded too deeply into the uterine wall it is called Placenta Accreta.
When part of the placenta is still inside the womb after childbirth, it is known as Retained Placenta. You may need a procedure to be performed if the Placenta isn’t completely expelled naturally.
If the Placenta cannot supply adequate amounts of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus, this is known as Placental Insufficiency and will result in complications arising in the pregnancy. Your doctor will monitor this condition throughout pregnancy.