When you think about getting pregnant and having a baby, I at least thought ‘Oh, I may get some morning sickness or nausea for the first 12 weeks and then be fine as so many people say’. Little did I know that I would be challenged with the toughest battle of my life just to bring a baby into the world. As soon as I saw the 2 lines on the test, the sickness started and got worse week on week.
What I was experiencing wasn’t usual pregnancy sickness it was Hyperemesis. At first I didn’t really know what it was, only that Kate Middleton had suffered with it, but once I looked into the symptoms and the condition I realised I had it.
I couldn’t keep water down, was being sick every few minutes and was confined to my bed. I didn’t realise how extremely dehydrated and weak my body was. I went to the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) at my local hospital to seek some help. When I arrived I was referred to the Gynaecology Ambulatory Unit (GAMBU).
I had never heard of this unit before. I asked who and what the unit provided. I was informed it is a day unit for walk-in hyperemesis women to come in during the week to receive anti sickness medication along with fluids. This was to help keep women from being admitted to the hospital. I now know how vital this is.
As soon as I had the injection of medication and fluids, I felt 100 times better than when I first arrived. The nausea was gone and I stopped vomiting and I was discharged with tablets to continue my treatment at home. Unfortunately, they didn’t work so I was back the next day for more IV medication and fluids. This treatment went on for 3 months of nearly daily visits and then A and E trips at the weekend to get fluids and anti sickness medication to keep me and my little one alive. The team of midwives, nurses and doctors there were an absolute godsend and I honestly wouldn’t have gotten through HG without it.
I wanted to give up so many times, but they kept reassuring me every day to keep going so I did. They all really cared and showed a lot of compassion for the women there. As not all hospitals offer this service, a lot of women were travelling over an hour to access it so I was very lucky to be local.
At the start of my 2nd trimester the manager of GAMBU informed me they would be giving me steroids to help with the vomiting as I was still losing weight and it was becoming increasingly tiring attending hospital every day. Due to this I was offered home visits as I needed the steroids twice a day given via IV along with my anti sickness medication as well as blood thinning injections to prevent blood clots. One of the home care team came to GAMBU to run through everything and that evening made their first visit.
I didn’t realise this care was even available to me as normally it’s reserved for the elderly and disabled. They informed me that they had spaces available so they were offering it to hyperemesis women who needed it most. The care I received was absolutely outstanding! The nurses were all so friendly and I had a daily call from the duty consultant as well. To be able to have hospital treatment at home was life changing, as I could properly rest and try to regain my strength and energy and to be in the comfort of my own home, again something else that is crucial for hyperemesis sufferers. Once a week I still had to attend hospital for a check up but it was so much better than daily trips. I had 10 days of home visits before I was given oral steroid medication to take myself at home. After 3 weeks of this they withdrew my steroid treatment and the vomiting started again within hours. I went back to GAMBU and was informed the home team would once again be attending for IV steroids. They were absolutely fabulous again with the treatment and care. After another 10 days of home visits I was once again put onto the oral steroid medication and after 4 weeks they tried to wean me off it again, and this time it worked and I was able to manage my symptoms with anti sickness oral medication. At 5 months pregnant, I was so happy to finally be back in the care of my gynaecologist consultant, as much as I had such incredible care I really didn’t want to step back into a hospital again for IV fluids and steroids.
I cannot thank The Princess Alexandra Hospital enough for the care, compassion and empathy shown to me and I would ask that all hospitals throughout the uk offer these services to women suffering hyperemesis.
For more information on the HG Day Units and to find one near you please visit the Pregnancy Sickness Support Charity website.
Written and contributed by Abbi Price.