This Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day (15 May), we are raising awareness of Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), a severe form of nausea and vomiting, affecting as many as 1 to 3 in 100 pregnancies.
Below are some helpful tips for healthcare professionals to improve the care for pregnant women and people who are suffering with HG.
HG has a profound effect on sufferers’ physical and mental wellbeing. The severe nausea and vomiting is totally debilitating, resulting in 70% of sufferers’ being bedbound. Many women cannot work, care for their children or perform day-to-day tasks. HG is associated with suicidal thoughts in 7% of cases and 5% of sufferers terminate a wanted pregnancy out of desperation*.
Just because a woman is not vomiting and does not have ketones in her urine does not mean she does not have severe HG and does not need treatment. The nausea and inability to eat are immensely distressing and harmful. Symptoms can occur at any time of day and in one quarter of suffers’ last for the entire pregnancy.
A third of women describe extremely poor or poor experiences when seeking help in primary and secondary care in the UK. They do not feel their symptoms are taken seriously or that they are listened to. All antiemetic / anti-sickness drugs currently in the RCOG Green-Top Guideline are safe to use in pregnancy, including in the first trimester. There is reluctance in both primary and secondary care to prescribe early, adequate and multiple antiemetics despite evidence that they work. Many women will need multiple antiemetics for several months and some for the entire pregnancy.
We can do better. Almost 90% of GPs in one study reported wanting additional education regarding HG. It’s important to make sure that the woman, her designated support, and her general practitioner have access to written or online information that they can read at their own convenience.
Inspire others by championing positive change in your maternity unit. You can influence change by leading by example and educating your colleagues to ensure all sufferers with HG receive timely, evidence-based and compassionate care.
For media enquiries please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)7740 175342 or email email@example.com.
Notes to editors
- Support for nausea and pregnancy sickness and Hyperemesis Gravidarum is available from charities such as Pregnancy Sickness Support
- To find out more about HG and pregnancy sickness see the RCOG patient information leaflet: https://www.rcog.org.uk/for-the-public/browse-all-patient-information-leaflets/pregnancy-sickness-nausea-and-vomiting-of-pregnancy-and-hyperemesis-gravidarum/
- *Hyperemesis gravidarum is associated with increased rates of termination of pregnancy and suicidal ideation: results from a survey completed by >5000 participants