I wish this was a blog post on how to thrive with HG, but unfortunately I just don’t think that is physically possible. From personal experience, here are the 10 things that got me through those horrendous three months. I hope they help you too!
- The trusty bucket
On the very rare occasion I left my bed, either to go to the hospital/ GP’s/ or the bathroom, this dear bucket went with me everywhere. It was like a favourite teddy to a child. I used the handle and carried it like a handbag everywhere I went without any shame. The pouring spout also meant I could lie down with my head in the bucket when I thought I might be sick but didn’t have the energy to sit up. I still keep it by my bed now even though I haven’t been sick in several weeks – it’s my safety blanket!
2. A water bottle with a time marker
This was a bit of a game-changer. Prior to this I was drinking out of a glass and I was so out of it I had no idea how much fluid I was drinking. After my first hospital admission, they said I needed to start monitoring the amount of fluid I was consuming, as they said when you start to drink less it’s probably a bad sign – which was true. It also meant that my boyfriend had to make less trips to the kitchen to refill my glass as the bottle I had was pretty big! When I was ill I don’t think I ever managed to drink the recommended amount, but the time markers gave me something to aim for and gave me a good indication when I had fallen behind.
3. Ice packs
These were absolutely essential when the vomiting was at its worst. The wave of heat that rushed over me when I was soon to be sick was very intense, and I often had migraines that I assume were due to the dehydration. I seemed to become hot very quickly and I would often stick an ice pack on my back or chest when I needed immediately cooling down. On the days we’d forgotten to put the ice-packs back in the freezer, we used ice-lollies, peas, or absolutely anything else from the freezer that would do the job.
4. A yoga strap (or dressing gown-belt or a scarf)
When you spend all your time lying vertical you are at a higher risk of developing blood clots. In hospital, I was offered an anticoagulant each time to prevent this from happening, but at home that was obviously not an option. My GP advised the best thing to do was move my legs as much as possible with the energy I had. As standing or sitting made me feel sick, I used my yoga strap to stretch and move my legs whilst lying on my back. It also made me feel better that at least I was using my legs a little bit so as not to lose all my muscle.
5. Bone broth
This was a complete life-saver. It was a fluke find but it made a world of difference to my recovery. Surprisingly my iron levels maintained at a healthy level throughout my time with HG and I put this down to having a daily cup of bone broth, as I wasn’t able to consume any fruit or vegetables. In an ideal world we would have made our own broth, but that was definitely beyond my boyfriends cooking abilities and I was completely MIA in the kitchen. Instead, we used this readily available, cheap option and often sieved out the veg and chicken when I couldn’t stomach it. When I felt like I might be sick, this would reduce the acid reflux and stop the feeling, and seemed to bring a bit of colour back to my face.
As a weight-conscious woman I have actively avoided having scales in my house as I’d really rather not know how much I weigh. Prior to this, I know tended to wave between the 8.5 and 9.5 stone range depending on my diet at the time and the amount of exercise I was doing. So it was a huge shock when the first time I was admitted to hospital they weighed me fully clothed and I was just over 7 stone. Frankly, I was horrified. It was the moment whenn the severity of the illness really hit home. Following this, I was advised to monitor my weight in case I lost anymore, and to speak to my GP if so. Alongside tracking how often I was sick, this was a good metric to mention to health professionals who were less convinced on the severity of my illness.
7. Head massager
Any kind of relaxation I could do whilst lying down was a blessing. This also helped to distract me from the feeling of being ill which was just great.
8. Ketone strips
In hospital, the advice at the time was that you are only admitted for fluids when you have ketones in your urine. This meant I would end up frequenting the GP surgery and out of hours doctors repeatedly when I was feeling really ill to find out if I was eligible for fluids. One day I could be fine, and the next day I could have really high ketone levels. We only thought to purchase these when my HG was a bit more under control, so I’m not sure how accurate they are. But if I were to have another pregnancy with similar problems I would definitely opt to use these if it means avoiding unnecessary trips to the GP surgery. Regardless, obviously if you feel ill please make sure you speak to your healthcare professional.
9. Face masks
These were a Christmas present from a friend and they were a great cooling mechanism. I also hadn’t moisturised in weeks so it made me feel like I was doing a good thing for my skin. I also loved these ones that warmed your face up from Space mask.
10. The spit towel
Oh the glamour. A common symptom for women with HG is excessive spitting. The spit towel felt like a new low but it saved me the effort of sitting up every time I needed to spit. Particularly when the drugs had kicked in, I often found myself constantly spitting but not actually being fully sick. Instead of getting up every time to spit in the sick bowl, or lying with the sick bowl next to me in bed, we nominated a spit towel. This would lie over my pillow and I would just spit on it as a I tried to sleep. Kind of gross, not a highlight, but at least I was comfortable and the towel absorbed all the fluid quickly!