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Tips for eating and drinking

Click here to download our helpful leaflet with tips for eating and drinking

Support is Vital

"The support I received over the past 6 weeks helped get me through what has been the toughest time of my life. Having someone who really who really understood the condition give advice helped us through and crucially, at times, gave me really useful information I didn't get from my own medical practitioners. In my experience, HG is such a debilitating and lonely struggle, the more support you get the better chance you have of surviving it" - Lisa, from London.

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Most women expect to experience nausea and vomiting in pregnancy which is commonly called morning sickness even though it occurs any time of day or night. It is often a welcome sign for women who have been trying for a baby and many women see it as a rite of passage through pregnancy. Therefore it is not often that women complain or ask for treatment for "normal" pregnancy sickness.

If lifestyle techniques like eating bland foods, eating little and often, and resting haven't worked, then you should seek help. 

How do I know if it's HG?

Each of the following criteria are required for the medical definition for HG:

  • Symptoms starts in early pregnancy, before a gestational age of 16 weeks. 
  • Characterized by severe nausea and/or vomiting
  • Inability to eat and/or drink normally
  • Strongly limits daily activities

What does that mean? Some signs that you need treatment and help with your symptoms are:

  • If you are not eating and drinking because of the nausea and/or vomiting. Food aversions can be normal - but not being able to keep down most foods or liquids is not. With HG it's common that something you can tolerate one day will not be tolerated the next day. 
  •  
  • If you are struggling with basic day-to-day activities like showering, leaving your home, driving, working, and looking after your family because of nausea and/or vomiting. Sufferers often describe having to lie down most of the day and that smells, noise, talking, and bright light trigger vomiting. 

  • If you have lost weight, particularly if you have lost more than 5% of your pre-pregnancy weight

  • If you are getting dehydrated e.g.: dry mouth, difficulty peeing and/or urine is dark. 

 

Where to get help

You can check your PUQE (Pregnancy Unique Quantification of Emesis and Nausea) score by going to p8 in the clinical guidelines. This rates your nausea and vomiting over the previous 24h on a scale from 3 to 15. The guidelines suggest IV fluids and/or medication may be appropriate for scores over 7. 

Check out our guide to making the most of your healthcare appointments here. 

  • Most people begin suffering symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum at 5-6 weeks pregnant, before they have had their initial Booking Visit in the Maternity Hospital (usually at 12-14 weeks.) For this reason, your  first port of call for help or diagnosis of HG may be from your GP or hospital Emergency department, before you have had any routine contact with midwives and obstetricians.

  • People suffering from hyperemesis may need to tell their employers sooner than they had planned, especially if they need time off work.

  • If your symptoms are causing you to feel low, do not hesitate to contact your GP or midwife for support. 

General Practitioner (GP)

Depending on the severity of your symptoms your GP may  prescribe anti-nausea medication. These medicines are safe to use during pregnancy.

Often you may need to to give a urine sample and undergo a physical examination to test for signs of dehydration. If you are showing signs of dehydration, your GP may refer you to the Emergency Department.

Your GP can also support you during your pregnancy as part of the Combined Care Antenatal Scheme.

 

Emergency Department (ED)

Depending on where in the country you live, you can attend the ED in your local hospital or you can attend the ED in a specialist Maternity Hospital (Dublin, Cork, and Limerick). Here is the HSE list of maternity units.

The midwives and doctors will assess you and determine whether you need IV fluids and/or medications.

You can attend the ED with a referral letter from your GP (this is free.) You can also attend the ED without a GP letter; standard hospital charges will apply.

 

Midwife

Midwives can give advice over the phone, for example in the Emergency Department of the Maternity Hospital. If you are taking part in midwife-led care, such as the Domino schemes, your midwife can assess your symptoms and refer you to an obstetrician or into hospital. 

 

Obstetrician

For people on the public schemes, you won't usually have a scheduled obstetric visit until at least 12 weeks; if you have a private obstetrician they may be available to you earlier in pregnancy. If you attend Emergency you would usually see a non-consultant hospital doctor (NCHD) initially who will be able to prescribe the most common treatments and will call in a more senior doctor if required. 

Please note: if you need Cariban, under the current HSE process, only a prescription from a consultant obstetrician is eligible for reimbursement (medical card, drugs payment scheme). Here is our detailed guide to accessing this.

 

We have a private peer support group online: it is a place to get practical tips, ask about others' experiences, or just to share your experience with people who understand. Click here to request to join (please note, it is limited to HG patients and survivors, not healthcare providers or carers).

We also offer general information on Instagram @hyperemesisireland and Twitter @hyperemesisie

 

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