Home > Life > TMC Talks > “During Pregnancy I Lost 15% Of My Body Weight (Nearly 2 Stone) Due To HG” – A Real Life Story Of Extreme Pregnancy Sickness.

One reader gives a stark, terrifying account of her battle with hyperemesis gravidarum…

Within four days of finding out I was pregnant I was admitted to hospital. I was severely dehydrated, could barely move and was throwing up foaming bile. The doctors explained that I had Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), the medical term given to women who experience extreme nausea during pregnancy. I was told they immediately needed to replace lost body fluid through an intravenous drip and inject anti-sickness medicines directly into my muscles.

Before I begin, I must state this disclaimer. I am very aware that ladies struggling to get pregnant would probably give anything to be pregnant with HG. I can conceive, which is extremely lucky, but I can’t comfortably carry a baby to full term. HG is very different from normal pregnancy sickness. It is a wholly debilitating illness that leaves you unable to leave the house, work, drive, read, speak to friends, let alone plan and prepare for a baby!

The thing that saved my baby’s life was not knowing how bad it was going to get.

15-20% of HG sufferers terminate otherwise wanted pregnancies because of the condition. For me, in addition to extreme nausea and vomiting, HG caused severe dehydration (ketosis), malnutrition, esophageal tears, and burst blood vessels. One lockdown, six hospital stays for IV fluids, two bouts of Covid and roughly 2772 anti-sickness tablets later, my husband and I have a beautiful, healthy baby boy. HG not only stole my pregnancy, but nearly stole my baby.

To make it worse, I was pregnant during the height of lockdown during my hospital stays, so the hospital was in full Covid mode. I was not allowed visitors, and I was too sick to use my phone since screens made me feel worse. I could not watch TV, read books or magazines and so I just left alone with my thoughts wondering if this illness was going to give me a higher chance of miscarriage?

The scary fact I already had Covid-19 whilst pregnant took a backseat. There was not much information available, but the consensus was the pregnancy still existed, it was too early to really see anything on the scan and so it must be ok.

The thought that helped me through the first trimester was thinking my morning sickness would end at 12 weeks. That’s what society tells you, right?

But after leaving hospital, I spent the rest of my first trimester bed-bound. I had to lie in a quiet, dark room; I couldn’t even shower. I had to be bathed by my mum or husband as I was too sick to stand (we moved back in with my parents). A defining factor of HG is that it impairs your ability to lead a normal life- you literally become disabled.

Well into my second trimester, the sickness hadn’t stopped. By week 16, I had lost over 15% of my body weight (nearly 2 stone) making my BMI severely underweight for my height, let alone pregnant. At a time when you’re meant to start showing a baby bump, I was a skeleton.  And yet, I was told if the symptoms hadn’t gone by 12 weeks, if would be highly unlikely to continue past 20 weeks. Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is generally estimated to occur in 50-90% of pregnancies and, hyperemesis gravidarum only occurs in only 0.5-2% of pregnant women. Of this number, only 22% will suffer past 20 weeks to term. There was a lot of crying on the bathroom floor wondering why me.

There I was taking 12 tablets a day and setting my alarm through the night so the medication never ran out. I feel awful looking back as I did no research on how these tablets would affect my unborn baby. Anti-sickness tablets during pregnancy have a historically bad reputation, but I would have done anything just to get me through the next minute/hour/week/month.

32 weeks came (which felt like 32 years) and I was throwing up blood in the middle of the night, I begged the doctor to take the baby out. I knew that babies could survive at 32-weeks. He said that they would only do this if it was life threatening to the mother or baby, but to me it felt like throwing up blood was life threatening. And little did I know it was going to get worse.

After being discharged after this particular hospital stay, I contracted Covid for the second time whilst pregnant. 33 weeks pregnant, Covid-19 positive, isolating again whilst suffering with hyperemesis – pretty depressing! The coughing fits made the sickness a lot worse, and the normal third trimester aches and pains were majorly amplified.

We had to have an elective c-section at 37 weeks for multiple reasons, but HG definitely played a part. I was so weak I don’t think I could have physically pushed a baby out. We were quite lucky with our consultant. He told us about another baby he delivered the week before by ‘natural section’, something we had never heard of. In a nutshell, it is a procedure that makes a cesarean seem less like a major abdominal operation and more like a vaginal delivery. With a natural section delivery, I was able to pull the baby out of my tummy myself and put him on my chest for immediate skin to skin contact. I am so grateful for this, as it was really empowering to be able to deliver my own baby and feel in control of my birth – something I had never felt during pregnancy.

I was extremely sick after he was delivered, making it hard for the surgeons to stitch me up. But thankfully since then (currently ten weeks postpartum) I have not been sick once. During the entire pregnancy I kept thinking I don’t know how I could possibly have another child with how ill I had been. This makes me sad because I would love more children, but I’m extremely nervous about becoming pregnant again. I feel strong and invincible at the moment because I survived and I delivered my own baby, but I know if I had HG again that the first bout of sickness would bring all of the old memories crashing back. I would immediately be worried about how bad things would get, and how hard it would be mentally to care for my family and be pregnant with HG at the same time. Even writing about my experience is hard to remember. It is sad in itself to hate the memory of being pregnant, and even harder to now think, looking at my gorgeous little boy, that I seriously contemplated not carrying on.

My husband was amazing, I couldn’t have done it without him and so was my family. Despite the trauma we did have good days, we did laugh, we were lucky enough to have an amazing birth and we are now happy and healthy. It is such a rare complication, but awareness needs to be raised to explain the difference between HG and morning sickness.

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