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Advocacy for Partners

Women suffering severe pregnancy sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum often report that they feel unable to speak up for themselves and explain how ill they are to healthcare professionals, employers and even family and friends. Many women say they feel like no one believes them or thinks they are exaggerating. 

How to speak up for a women with hyperemesis gravidarum

Often it is only their partner who sees how ill they actually are and is the one at home caring for them as best they can. Their partner is therefore well placed to speak up for their loved one and explain to others on their behalf just how ill she really is.

 

Advocating with Doctors

It's not easy though, particularly with healthcare professionals, who can at times seem intimidating and even unwilling to listen. 

You may find it helpful to write down notes prior to the appointment. Try thinking about her symptoms, your concerns and any questions you might have. Here is an example of things to think about:

Symptoms

 

  • How many times a day is she vomiting?
  • How much fluid and food has she kept down in 24/hours?
  • How often is she passing urine?
  • Has she lost much weight?
  • Is movement, sound, and smell triggering vomiting?
  • What other symptoms are troubling?

 

Your concerns

  • What are your main worries? ie. Dehydration, weight loss, risks from being bedbound, leaving her to go to work, concerns over losing you jobs?

Questions

  • Is it safer to take medication or not?
  • If she is not being admitted now, then at what point should you be concerned that she needs to go to hospital?
  • What signs and symptoms should you look out for that things are more serious?
  • What is the best route for speaking to the GP, can you email or phone to speak to them?
  • Could you help by monitoring her ketones at home?
  • Could the nurse teach you to give her intramuscular injections of her medications for times that she can’t manage oral ones?
  • Is there any other support you can get with this?

 

Remember that it's okay to ask questions and ask for clarification if you aren't sure about something!

Advocating with Employers

Your partner may need time off work to cope with her symptoms and she would not be unusual in this. up to 30% of pregnant women need time off work due to pregnancy sickness.

You can help by familiarising yourself with the employment information on our website and seeking further help if needed via the Citizen's Advice Bureaux or else where.

If your partner is admitted to hospital you may need to liaise with her employer on her behalf.

Advocating with Family and Friends

It is not uncommon for women to experience a sense of disbelief about their symptoms for family and friends and this can be one of the most challenging aspects of the condition. Feeling like your family and friends have deserted you when you need them most can lead to a greater sense of isolation and loneliness for women suffering hyperemesis.

Many women find explaining their symptoms to other people difficult and so it can be helpful if their partner speaks on their behalf and explains to family and friends just how real and unpleasant the condition is for her.

Often when faced with illness people try to make helpful suggestions about thinking positively and trying alternative therapies or folkloric remedies like ginger biscuits. Generally the comments are not cruelly meant, in fact they are genuinely trying to be kind, but often this can lead to a greater sense of isolation for the sufferer as suggestions can seem to undermine the severity of their experience. It may be useful to think of some answers for the more common suggestions.

 

 

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