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How to Get Through Hyperemesis Gravidarum (Even if You’re Not a Duchess)

It takes a certain amount of guts (sorry) to face down hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) a third time, as the Duchess of Cambridge announced she’s doing. The condition, which affects 1 percent of pregnant woman, can make you vomit more than 40 times a day. 10 percent of HG sufferers will choose to end their pregnancies, according to research. As an HG sufferer during my pregnancy, I remember how isolating and frightening it was. For many of my fellow HG mothers, it’s shaped their feelings on family size: they’re “one and done” because of the terror a second pregnancy would bring.


Here is some help if you’re suffering with HG or “nausea and vomiting in pregnancy” (NVP).

Know when it’s not morning sickness

For me this came at the moment I started vomiting blood and acid and was being sick around 13 times a day. If it’s your first pregnancy and you haven’t had morning sickness before, it’s all too easy to kid yourself that you’re being weak. If your sickness is unmanageable – you can’t walk far, you can’t work, you can’t leave the house – you need extra help. Don’t let the “you’re not ill, you’re pregnant” brigade into your head. If you felt this ill without being pregnant, you’d doubtless be at the doctor ASAP. You would also take time off work. Do this, even if it means months away. It is hard to disguise the first trimester of pregnancy when you’re suffering HG. If it’s easier to tell people what’s happening, tell them.

Push for the right treatment

Healthcare professionals can be dismissive of HG and many sufferers report unhelpful treatment and delays getting the correct drugs. If your drugs aren’t working, ask about your options until you find what’s right for you. Mild cases of HG like mine meant two hospital admissions, several bags of fluids each time, and taking an antiemetic for five months of my eight-month pregnancy. Severe cases of HG mean months in hospital on a drip of antiemetics used for chemotherapy patients. There isn’t a one size fits all fix.

Take care of your mental health and find the right support network

You will go through weeks, maybe months, where leaving the bathroom seems Herculean. HG is incredibly isolating. Ask friends to come to you but not mind if you flake. You may tell yourself you’re becoming a rubbish partner. Remind yourself over and over that this can only last nine months and that it’s not your fault or choice. Don’t feel guilty for leaning on your partner. You will need flexibility and understanding at work. If your manager can’t or won’t offer that, speak to Human Resources about your options for long-term sick leave.

Go online and find HG and NVP forums. This is your village. They, like you, are puking around the clock and are here to hold your virtual hand. Some of these women are now my closest mum friends. There are also HG veterans on the groups with helpful advice. Be aware the mental weight of HG won’t disappear with the baby’s birth. Your feelings on everything from food to your family may have changed post-pregnancy. Tell your healthcare providers how you’re feeling and if you need counseling or medication.

Have your purse HG ready

If you feel able to leave the house you will need:

  • your anti-emetics
  • a lot of gel lined sick bags (in addition to vomiting, you’re going to drool like a bloodhound)
  • mouthwash or mints
  • baby wipes
  • a clean scent that doesn’t make you nauseous
  • VapoRub to mask the smell of smokers
  • food and sweat on public transport
  • a change of clothes
  • cold facial spray
  • whatever snacks you can face (which in my case was Rice Krispie Squares)

Enjoy your post-baby meal

The first bite of toast that goes down and doesn’t threaten to reappear immediately is heaven.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like the heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends, which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent.

Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, it's more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby—in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it all through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

The fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so that there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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