What to say when...

If you get through an HG pregnancy without wanting to punch someone who has said something hurtful or idiotic, you will be very lucky. Here are a few of the common ones, and some suggested responses

Oh you've got morning sickness, you should try...

I don't mean to be rude and I know you mean well, but there is nothing you can tell me about pregnancy sickness that I don't already know. I have heard all the well meaning advice, but the thing is, I don't have pregnancy sickness, I have Hyperemesis Gravidarum. It's a well known serious complication of pregnancy and pregnancy experts with decades of medical experience struggle to treat it, so 'home cures' will do nothing but give me the impression that you really just don't get it. 


Pregnancy is not an illness

Pregnancy is not an illness, but a pregnancy complication is. Hyperemesis is a serious complication of pregnancy which can be fatal if it is not treated.


Well they didn't have this in my day, we just had to get on with it

On the contrary, they did have this in your day. It has been noted as a complication of pregnancy since Ancient Greek times and was the main cause of death of mothers in early pregnancy up until the 1940s when anti sickness drugs began to be used. You may have got on with it, but you didn't have hyperemesis.


Have you tried ginger?

Ginger is not a very effective antiemetic, there is no convincing evidence that it is useful for the treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). Most women with HG have tried ginger because its almost impossible to mention the words 'pregnancy sickness' without someone suggesting it, but they find it completely useless. Suggesting ginger to a woman with HG trivialises her suffering; you may mean well, but it is unhelpful and extremely irritating.


It'll be worth it in the end

Do you imagine for one moment that I don't know that it will be worth it? It is the most patronising, irritating, trivialising platitude and suggests to me that you simply have not understood a word of what I have been telling you.


It'll stop at 12 weeks

According to recent research Hyperemesis Gravidarum will almost certainly not resolve by 12 weeks. 80% of women do not even experience any improvement in symptoms before 15 weeks, and over 50% of women are still suffering symptoms at birth. You're confusing it with morning sickness, which does stop at 12 weeks.


You shouldn't be taking those drugs

According to pregnancy specialists, antiemetics should not be withheld from women with hyperemesis in primary care. No commonly used antiemetics have shown any association with birth defects in humans. There are many safe antiemetics which can be taken in the first trimester, whereas starvation may put the baby at risk of long term health problems. 


It's all in your head/ If you think positive you won't be sick

HG is not a psychosomatic disorder. The psychosomatic theory of HG was the result of poor quality, misongynistic research conducted over 40 years ago. Since then, no evidence that mental health issues cause HG has been forthcoming. On the contrary, studies indicate that mental health problems associated with HG are caused by the condition, not the cause of it. I find your insinuation that it's psychosomatic insulting, prejudicial and it leads me to assume that you know very little about the condition and this has eroded my trust in you as a provider of evidence based medicine.