Bukola was 6 weeks pregnant and worked at the Lekki branch of a retail bank. This was her first pregnancy. She covered the customer service desk and her day was often disrupted by bouts of nausea, reching and vomiting. She couldn’t keep her meals down. She was often tired, dizzy, her mouth dry, her heart would pound in her chest.
On more than one occasion on her way to work she would have to get off at the Lekki Admiralty Bustop to throw up before getting to the office. It got so bad sometimes she would faint at work and would have to be rushed to the hospital. This was followed by several days on admission and time off work.
What Bukola was experiencing was a rare condition known as “Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). “Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is the most severe form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy” that leads to dehydration, disruptions in metabolic and electrolyte imbalances as well as weights-loss.
The exact cause of HG is unknown. Several theories suggest that the following may be at play:
- The effect of a combination of genes in a mothers DNA
- The effect of hormonal changes in pregnancy
- The liver and gut not functioning as they should.
- Changes in a mother’s of smell during pregnancy
- A stomach infection with a bacteria called H. Pylori .
If you are a first time mum, have ever had hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) in your previous pregnancies, are pregnant with more than one baby ( a set of twins, triplets etc) or have a tumour in the womb associated with pregnancy (trophoblastic disease) you are predisposed to having this condition.
For some mums the nausea and vomiting resolves after first trimester. Other mums go on to struggle and are often in and out of hospital till they finally give birth to their babies.
It’s crucial that you visit the hospital if ever the bouts of vomiting don’t stop and you can’t hold even sips of fluid down, you feel constantly dizzy, disoriented and unable to focus and your heart is pounding. You may need to be given fluids and medication correct the imbalances caused and to stop the vomiting.
Whatever the cause of your hyperemesis, it’s bound to take its toll.
The implications: financial ( health bills) , physical ( weakness, weight-loss, poor appetite) and logistical (work interruptions, having make arrangements to get to and fro or stay in hospital); can leave a mum frustrated or feeling bad about herself.
Know this…. no matter how many times you have to be admitted for care , or stay home from work, having HG does not mean you are lazy or weak as a mum… it happens to the best of us.