Thursday, 3 April 2014

Introducing The Big Brew - a Fundraising Event for PSS

We're delighted to share something extremely exciting with you all today. It's a new fundraising idea that is so easy and fun anyone can join in.

We know that big fundraising challenges are sometimes just too physically demanding or time-limiting for those of you recovering from a HG pregnancy and anyone with young children. And that's why we wanted to come up with an idea that anyone could do.

Quite simply, we're asking you all to invite your friends, family and colleagues to join you for a cuppa and some cake and then take the opportunity to raise some awareness of what we do and some funds to help us continue doing all that we do.

We're calling it The Big Brew
We've aimed the event at 15th May as this is International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day and we will be promoting awareness more than ever on that date. However we know that you won't all be able to hold an event on that date, so do feel free to choose a date within that week that suits you.

Your Big Brew event can take place anywhere that works for you (your home, your local church hall, or even your work place) and can be as big or small as you want to make it. It can be an intimate get-together with a small group of friends, a natter over tea with other mums you know, or a selection of cakes to entice your colleagues on their lunch break!

All we ask is that you use the opportunity to raise awareness and funds for Pregnancy Sickness Support (PSS).  Explain to your guests what PSS is all about and why you’re fundraising for us. Explain that the money you raise will help us reach even more women during their most difficult days as well as raising awareness of HG and the treatment options available.  You could even print off some of our information leaflets to hand out.

And then give yourself a great big pat on the back for holding such a fantastic event. It doesn't matter if you reach one person or twenty. It doesn't matter if you raise £10 or £100. All that matters is that you took part and made a difference through bringing people together for your Big Brew.

All the information you will need (including posters, invites, thank you cards and Susie's Top Tips) can be found on the PSS website here. You'll also find all the details on there about how to join in with the Big Brewers' Community. We look forward to hearing your plans!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The challenge continues - what's the latest? - by Susie

My Nine Months Of … campaign to raise awareness and money for Pregnancy Sickness Support continues apace.  Here’s a quick update on what I have been up to lately.

Raising money

I have now received my fee for lecturing midwifery students at Birmingham City University which I have donated to Pregnancy Sickness Support. Thanks to this, my Pamper Evening and generous donations from friends and family, my fundraising total so far is £248.

This is well over my original target but I would love to make it even more. So please do take a look at my fundraising page and consider making a donation.  Every little counts so any donation, no matter how big or small, would be very much appreciated.

Raising awareness

In the last few days I have spoken to one of the lovely midwives who looked after me when I was pregnant. She contacted me a few months ago, having seen an article in the local newspaper about my volunteering for Pregnancy Sickness Support, and asked for information leaflets about the charity to pass on to ladies struggling with pregnancy sickness.  She was very keen on my request to go and speak to all the North Birmingham community midwives and she is going to let me know when their next team meeting is so that I can join them. Result!

Mums In The Know Sutton Coldfield, who kindly welcomed me to one of their Play Dates, have also agreed to feature information on Pregnancy Sickness Support in the charity section of their website.  They would also like me to be one of their “Mums in the Spotlight” talking about my role as a mum, a solicitor and, of course, a volunteer for the Pregnancy Sickness Support. Double result!

Finally, my Nine Months Of … challenge and my personal blog, Diary of a Charity Chick, which documents my PSS Awareness Roadshow, were featured in this month's departmental update at the law firm where I work.

So with just two months left until the official end of the Nine Months Of… campaign, there are still plenty of things keeping me busy but I am still on the lookout for other opportunities and events to attend.  Please let me know if you are aware of any. Thank you.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Crochet Update and Auction Plans - by Amanda

I haven't posted an update on my crochet challenge in far too long, and I must apologise for that. But I have a very good reason... I have been so busy crocheting that I just haven't had time to come online and upload photos.

But with only 50 days left in my challenge (I purposefully started a couple of weeks early, so that I left myself plenty of time to list all the items on eBay - a lesson I learned the hard way last year) it is high time I shared my progress with you all.

Here's what I have made so far...

That's 3 baby blankets (one complete, one 3/4 complete, and one in the beginning stages), 2 ladies hats, 2 children's hats (plus a 3rd I forgot to add to the photo), a little child's purse, and a cowl. The blankets have all been made using yarn donated by Black Sheep Wools or using gift cards donated by their customers. Without such donations I'd have struggled to make such beautiful items and so I am so grateful for their support. 

All of these items (and any more I manage to complete over the next 50 days) will be added to an auction on eBay to coincide with International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day on 15th May. Last year I organised a handmade auction and we received just over 80 items which raised over £300 for PSS. Do you think we can beat that this year?

I do hope so! I've already received this beautiful collection of cardigans and a magnificent scarf from the wife of one of our trustees. 

I would love to try and beat last year's record and list 100 handmade items and raise nearer £500. And this is where you come in!

If you're a crafter, please consider spending just a couple of hours creating something that you could donate to the auction. It doesn't have to be perfect, just handmade. Why handmade? Well it is symbolic of the love and determination that the women we support rely on to get through some of their darkest hours. A handmade item has been created with care and attention and requires a certain amount of dedication, more than buying something from a shop. And that's something we can celebrate!

Plus, it is really lovely to gift someone with a handmade item that is unique and wonderful when compared to mass-produced items, don't you think?

What if you're not a crafter? Well, perhaps you could share this link with friends, family and your own social circle to see if anyone you know might be able to donate an item. That won't take long but it could make all the difference.

If you have an item to donate, please contact me via the contact form so that I can tell you where to send the items. In the meantime, you can keep up with all that's happening at PSS and why fundraising is so important by following us on Facebook or Twitter

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Student midwives' lecture - delivered at last - by Susie

On Friday 7 February 2014 I gave my long-anticipated lecture on hyperemesis gravidarum to sixty student midwives at Birmingham City University.  As a solicitor, I might not seem like the obvious choice to lecture on a midwifery course!  But I suffered from the condition during both my pregnancies and I am now a volunteer for the charity, Pregnancy Sickness Support (PSS), so I suppose I am probably more qualified than most.

My remit for the session was to share my own experiences in order to help the students understand the impact that hyperemesis has on the sufferer and her family and to discuss how midwives can best help anyone suffering from hyperemesis .

Since having my two children, I have a huge amount of admiration for midwives and the important role that they play in bringing new life into the world.  I imagine that many regard it as a privilege to be involved in one of the most precious moments that a family can experience.  However, sadly, they will also encounter loss and grief and they will need to show strength and compassion to support families through dark and tragic times. I believe it takes a very special person to take on this role.

It was not surprising then that the group I lectured were a really lovely bunch of ladies.  I had no problems engaging them in discussion of the case studies I had prepared and they were very willing to share any experience they already had of hyperemesis 

During the session I spent time discussing the significant differences between hyperemesis and the "normal" pregnancy sickness that many people will be familiar with. My intention was to give an honest and personal account of what I went through and to highlight the support and resources available from Pregnancy Sickness Support.

I ended the session with five key messages for the students to remember:
  • Hyperemesis is not morning sickness. It is not a normal part of pregnancy but a serious complication which is both mentally and physically debilitating.
  • Hyperemesis requires proper treatment and support otherwise there are risks to mum and baby.
  • Safe and effective medication is available.
  • A midwife’s role is to believe, listen to and support the woman and to ensure she gets the medical treatment and support she needs. 
  • Support, information and resources are available from Pregnancy Sickness Support.
From my own perspective, I felt the lecture went very well. That said, I was not expecting the round of applause I got at the end of the session!

I would like to thank Rachel and all of the students for giving me the opportunity to come and speak to the group. It was a real pleasure and I would be delighted to come again next year if the University will have me.  

If you have enjoyed reading this please sponsor me for the Nine Months of ... campaign here. Thank you. You can  also read my personal blog, Diary of a Charity Chick, here. 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Student midwives' lecture - two days to go - by Susie

It doesn’t seem very long since I was writing about my excitement and trepidation at being invited to speak to student midwives at Birmingham City University about hyperemesis gravidarum.  You can read my previous blog post here.  At the time, February seemed such a long time off but, as is so often the way, time has flown by and here I am just a few days away from the lecture.

I thought I would get the students thinking early on in the session with some multiple choice questions about HG. Why don’t you have a go at the questions yourself and see how well you do? You might be surprised at some of the answers! Answers are at the bottom of the post.

1. Which of the following symptoms are associated with HG?

          (a) Excess saliva
          (b) Aversion to noise
          (c) Sensitivity to smells
          (d) Severe fatigue
          (e) Dehydration
2. Which of the following are likely to help a woman suffering from HG?

          (a) Ginger biscuits
          (b) Acupressure bands

          (c) Eating little and often

          (d) Rest

          (e) Thinking positively

3. At what point will most HG sufferers’ symptoms start to improve? 
          (a) 12 weeks
          (b) 16 weeks
          (c) 20+ weeks
4. What percentage of HG sufferers continue to experience at least some symptoms of HG for 9 months?
         (a) 5%
         (b) 30%
         (c) 65%
5. A woman is more likely to get HG in a subsequent pregnancy if she has had it before. True or False?

6. A woman is more likely to get HG if her mother or sister had it. True or False?

7. What percentage of women require time off work because of pregnancy sickness or HG?
         (a) 30%
         (b) 40%
         (c) 50%
Answers: 1. All 2. (d) 3. (c) 4. (c) 5. True 6. True 7. (a)

If you have enjoyed reading this please sponsor me for the Nine Months of ... campaign here. Thank you. You can  also read my personal blog, Diary of a Charity Chick, here. 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Charity Pamper Evening in Pictures - by Susie

Head and shoulder massage, mini-facial, hand and arm massage, mini-manicure and express hair styling ... these were just some of the fabulous treatments on offer at Tuesday's Charity Pamper Evening at Shear Success Salon and Spa in aid of Pregnancy Sickness Support and their Nine Months of ... campaign to raise awareness and funds for the charity.

I had a relaxing head and shoulder massage and express hair styling (after which I felt very glam) followed by a lovely hand and arm massage whilst lying on a heated bed with dimmed lighting and soothing music ... bliss! 

Although I had arrived feeling a little frazzled after rushing home from work, doing the school run, the nursery run, making the tea and getting ready in 5 minutes flat, I was soon feeling chilled out with all the other guests.

We were treated to bubbly and canap├ęs and the salon kindly donated a wonderful raffle prize of a mini-facial or mini-massage plus a blow dry.

It was a perfect evening with great company and we raised £136 for Pregnancy Sickness Support.  Thank you to everyone who came and helped to make the event a huge success. Thank you also to Angela and all the staff at Shear Success who were amazing. They did everything which meant it was very easy for me to organise the event.  All I had to do was sell tickets ... and then enjoy the evening.

I have only one question – when’s the next one?

If you have enjoyed reading this please sponsor me for the Nine Months of ... campaign here

You can  also read my personal blog, Diary of a Charity Chick, here. (

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Crocheting Along - A Video Update by Amanda

Amanda has been struggling to update us regularly with her Nine Months Of Crochet challenge in recent months as her time has been limited. But she has been crocheting away and has completed her first baby blanket and has moved onto her second blanket, whilst dreaming of a third!

She knew an update was well overdue and so decided to do things a bit differently this month and created a video to share her thoughts and experiences of her challenge so far.