You may have heard of Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) during Kate Middleton’s pregnancies, but have you or a friend experienced it? HG is nothing to mess with. It is a potentially life-threatening condition with extreme nausea and vomiting that can last all three trimesters, leaving everlasting trauma to the person who has suffered through this condition. Sadly, I am writing about this because I have first-hand experience with HG. So many friends wanted to help me while I was sick, but they didn’t know how.
After being able to reflect on my experience, here are seven ways you can help someone suffering from HG during her pregnancy.
One first must learn that HG isn’t simply morning sickness. In actuality, the person suffering feels like they are on their deathbed for months with the worst stomach flu they’ve ever had. There are plenty of resources available on the Internet for women who are struggling with HG, even a helpful Facebook support group for women who are suffering.
2. Be there and be understanding.
This seems super simple, but having people ask how I was feeling during my pregnancy was very helpful. I went from the person who was always checking in and meeting up with friends to falling off the face of the Earth. I missed my friendships, but was too weak to leave the house and sometimes too dizzy to look at my phone. Having friends and family constantly reaching out and ready to listen to the constant drone of everlasting stomachaches and puking sessions provided me with a great deal of comfort.
3. Limit your scents.
Pregnancy heightens your sense of smell, and one of my big triggers with HG was intense inescapable scents. If you have a loved one that is pregnant, make sure to take a shower and deodorize before seeing them. (Sounds simple, I know. But you’d be surprised…) Additionally, smelly lotions, perfumes, and essential oils should not be worn because these scents are also completely overwhelming. So please, limit your scents. You don’t want to be known as the vomit inducer.
**Friends with HG, find a scent you can handle and keep it on you at all times. I would put a drop of peppermint oil under my nose to help deter the stink.
4. Know Triggers
A friend of mine asked what my triggers were before I ventured to her house. It was so thoughtful! I was able to tell her about my scent issue and gave her a long grocery list of food I could not stand looking at or smelling. (I couldn’t look at green vegetables or salad until my third trimester with out experiencing nausea. Seriously.) This shows how understanding you are and it is extremely helpful for the person who is struggling.
5. “Have you tried…?”
You may truly think you are trying to help, but please try to limit your suggestions because your loved one is sick of hearing them. Instead of asking “Have you tried..,” ask “What have you tried for relief?” This will help guide whether she needs suggestions or not. Let me tell you, by week twelve of this condition I tried every. single. suggestion. I was regularly seeing three doctors, spent hundreds of dollars on acupuncture, tried ginger in all forms, always had crackers on hand, wore Seabands, sipped warm Coca Cola, sucked on sour candies, and so much more… You see, nothing helped. Until the third trimester, not even anti-nausea medication prescribed by the doctor helped. It was completely exhausting and awful.
**Friends with HG: through trial and error (or maybe even time), you will find what works for you. Until then, take a sip of very cold water before you start to vomit to provide coolness through your throat. Stay strong.
6. Bring Food
There’s a good chance your friend will not be leaving the house any time soon. If you are able, bring a meal or two to her family to alleviate the stress of needing meals for her children or significant other. Please make sure the food isn’t “strong smelling,” or your good deed may hurt your friend more than help.
7. Share happiness for the baby.
When one is spending the majority of their time lying on a gross bathroom floor puking their guts out, they may forget why this awful illness is happening. Personally, having loved ones remind me that I was growing a baby was super helpful. Little gifts for the baby, trimester Bump Boxes, tracking the baby via the Ovia Pregnancy App, and people asking how the baby was growing brought hope to me while I was laying on the bathroom floor.
I hope you found these tips helpful! HG survivors, can you think of anything else that should be on this list?
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