When Morning Sickness Takes Over
Surviving hyperemesis gravidarum
“As much as I wanted my babies, there were moments when I was so sick that I almost hoped for a miscarriage, just to end the nausea,” says Paula. She finally found help during a visit to her reproductive endocrinologist, who gave her a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea medication often given to chemo patients.
As shocking as it may sound, statistics indicate that Paula is not alone in “hoping” for a miscarriage as a way to put a stop to her sickness. According to research conducted by HER, a staggering 40 percent of women terminate their pregnancies because of HG.
Additionally, HG often negatively affects the pregnant woman’s family and relationships, including that with her partner, and may often result in the loss of her job. “Many family relationships dissolve and future family plans are almost always limited,” states the HER Foundation. “Women often lose their employment and are frequently under treated and left feeling stigmatized by a disease erroneously presumed to be psychological.”
While not a complete cure, the Zofran helped Paula manage her extreme nausea and she even regained an appetite. Paula was fortunate to avoid hospitalization and eventually gave birth to healthy daughters. Yet even with the help of the Zofran, Paula does not plan to have any more children. “I don’t think I could care for my daughters feeling like I did when I was pregnant.”
Kimber MacGibbon, unlike Paula, did go on to have another baby and again suffered from HG. “The symptoms occurred much the same as my first pregnancy. I could not tolerate any pressure on my abdomen; motion, smells, the thought of food made me ill, and my gag reflex was extremely sensitive. Thanks to Zofran and Zantac, as well as lots of rest in the early months, I was able to avoid trips to the emergency room, as well as IVs. I still had three really horrible weeks during which I could do nothing but lay on the sofa, and many more times throughout the eight months where I could do very little,” MacGibbon says.
“However, I consider it tolerable compared to my first pregnancy. Interestingly, the food aversions/cravings, sensitivity to smells, noise, and motion seemed less intense this time, unless I missed my Zofran,” which she began at the first sign of nausea, and increased the dose to the maximum (32 mg/day) as she felt she needed it and in accordance with her doctor’s orders.
The recurrence of HG in subsequent pregnancies is not unlikely since the cause is not known and is likely due to more than one factor and because it is not preventable. However, the symptoms are often more manageable and less severe if adequate treatment is given early in the pregnancy, or if you plan ahead and plan your pregnancy by eating very healthily, taking antioxidants and prenatal vitamins for several months, and making sure you are in the best health possible.
If you would like to learn more about HG or how to help someone suffering from HG, please visit the HER Foundation Web site.
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