Tackling the huge gap in Mental Health Support for HG sufferers
Monday 14th February 2022
“I'd failed at pregnancy and now I was failing at being a mum. I totally lost myself through HG.”
We live in a culture of comparison and of Instagram perfection, so to watch much of the world carry on with seemingly “easy” pregnancies, and carry on with day-to-day life, Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) sufferers often question themselves; Is it just me? Am I not as strong as I thought? Am I already failing as a parent? Throw in the feelings of isolation from the inability to leave the house or even their bed, and you may find someone suffering from HG spiralling downwards at an alarming rate.
This condition is still incredibly misunderstood, so it is of no surprise that we are still fighting to have voices heard on the substantial impact that this condition has on a sufferers mental health and emotional wellbeing.
HG affects up to 3% of pregnancies. Alongside the physical symptoms caused by extreme sickness and nausea, the psychological impacts are complex with feelings of anxiety, depression, panic, loneliness, confusion, anger, helplessness, and desperation to name but a few.
The severely underappreciated condition can even lead to suicidal idealisation and PTSD and is currently the primary reason for the termination of wanted pregnancies.
Often, those battling the condition are reluctant to tell friends and family the extent of their struggle through worry that their feelings and illness may be minimised or dismissed entirely.
Sadly, with the closure of the only UK HG specialist counselling service, there is a lack of professional mental health support for those affected by the condition, leaving vulnerable women and pregnant people suffering emotionally both during and following a traumatic pregnancy.
“There is huge power in sharing your struggles with another woman who really gets it especially with a condition like HG which is so widely misunderstood”.
This is why through an already established network of HG knowledgeable counsellors, and alongside our in-house counsellor, Pregnancy Sickness Support plan to offer fully funded and heavily subsidised specialist telephone counselling sessions to those who are experiencing emotional difficulties because of HG. The emotional turmoil from HG can last far beyond birth, and this service will offer women from the most disadvantaged groups accessibility to a specialist provision that may otherwise not have been an option for them.
This vital service will be an addition to the already outstanding support our charity offers for those impacted by pregnancy sickness and HG. We aim to make the counselling service accessible, understanding, and available to those who are currently suffering or have been impacted by the severity of their pregnancy condition, where further professional help beyond our emotional support service is needed.
“It is without doubt, that there are gaps in pregnancy sickness mental health support, which Pregnancy Sickness Support is planning to tackle this issue head-on”.
Our plan to provide professional counselling sessions will help those impacted by HG to make sense of and manage difficult feelings and thoughts during and post an HG pregnancy and replenish psychological wellbeing for subsequent pregnancies. Counselling will also help strengthen relationships affected by the illness, facilitate emotional connection with their pregnancy and reclaim a sense of control.
Counselling cannot cure nausea or vomiting, but it can enable people to develop new coping strategies and ensure they feel validated and understood.
There is a clear need for an HG specialist counselling service, and our plans will help so many people manage feelings from the trauma of pregnancies had or pregnancies that will never be. Funding remains our biggest hurdle to launch this programme, however with the continued support from the HG community, we will continue to work tirelessly to give a voice to those who need it and provide support wherever it’s needed.
Thank you to our supporters, who continue to make this a possibility.