Extreme morning sickness – one mum’s story

When does morning sickness become Hyperemesis Gravidarum? One woman shares her experience...


Vicky, 38, from Birmingham, had been pregnant three times and suffered from hyperemesis, or extreme morning sickness, each time.


Here she tells what is like to suffer from hyperemesis – excessive vomiting and nausea – during pregnancy.

‘I hadn’t planned to have more children after Matt because my previous experience of hyperemesis put me off, so when I recognised that oh so familiar feeling of sickness – this time even before my pregnancy was confirmed – alarm bells were ringing.

For a fit and healthy woman, morning sickness was the most debilitating condition I’d ever experienced: worse than any flu or cold I’d ever had.

The term ‘morning sickness’ didn’t seem to truly fit the condition, as I was suffering from ‘all day and all night sickness’ and it was starting to control my life.

I was left feeling like the life had been zapped out of me. I was miserable at a time that should have been happy. I couldn’t face eating or drinking and even when I made the effort, I threw up anyway.

By the time I was 12wks, I’d lost 2 and a half stone in weight, so my GP referred me to hospital. A urine test discovered the presence of ketones, and after ruling out diabetes, concluded I was dehydrated. I had to go on a saline/glucose drip on 2 separate occasions and was given anti-emetic suppositories to use.

By this time my nerves were on edge. My partner and family members were doing the everyday chores and looking after Mattie. Physically and emotionally, I was drained. I became paranoid that people were talking about me. I even started to feel like a fraud – there were people out there with real illnesses like cancer and I was pregnant, not ill.

But desparately ill is how I really felt. I had heard that some women terminated their pregnancies due to hyperemesis, and could fully empathise with them. I felt my relationships suffering and my sex life was non-existent. I couldn’t bear to have my partner touch me. I wanted to be left alone. He was very good about it.

The most heartbreaking thing was that I couldn’t take an interest in the things my son liked as I just didn’t feel strong enough. I felt I was neglecting him and letting him down. I knew he needed me. I’d lost my dad to pneumonia before I got pregnant with Lilah, and Matt was close to his grandad. ‘I understand mum,’ he’d say to me. I was grateful and proud to have such a sensitive lad.

I returned to work for a short while after 15 wks of absence, feeling nervous. My colleagues and HR manager were a great support. Knowing how paranoid I’d been, a male colleague had researched hyperemesis and left copies of an article he’d found on the internet in the staff canteen to educate people on what was wrong with me, so I wouldn’t be subjected to hurtful comments about being lazy. It was tough going to work on public transport and some days I couldn’t manage it. Work were very sympathetic. With all the support I was getting, I still thought people were avoiding me; I just wasn’t good company these days.

As my pregnancy progressed, I was able to stomach some bland foods but only drank milk. I was still sick a lot but at least I managed to keep a bit down.

It was a relief when Lilah was born. She was perfect but small, weighing 5lb 13oz.

The first thing I had to eat after she was born was toast and it was the best I’d ever tasted. I was starving. I’ve since put on all the weight I lost plus a bit extra.

The hyperemesis seems a distant memory when I recall the moment I cuddled my baby daughter for the first time. When I look at my beautiful children, I realise that nine months of suffering in my life compared to a lifetime of not having them in mine was definitely worth it!’


Vicky’s tips for hyperemesis sufferers

  • Try wearing sea bands. Most chemists stock them.
  • Eat small bland meals. I had dry toast and lentil soup.
  • Always try to eat something. I felt worse if my stomach was empty.
  • If you can’t stomach drinks, then suck small pieces of ice.
  • Avoid anything with strong odours.
  • Most importantly, try to get some rest.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help: you are not on your own. Hyperemesis is a medical condition that can sometimes require a referral to hospital. It’s more common than you think. Dont let people make you feel bad about it.


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