Thursday, 16 October 2014

My Two Cents by Kerry Dungay

On the 9th October 2014, I trundled along to Birmingham for the Pregnancy Sickness Support annual Conference.  I suffered badly with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) with both my babies but that seems like a long time ago now, and with limited time and money I wasn’t sure what I could offer or how the conference would be relevant to me at this moment. 
Pregnancy Sickness Support Conference 2014
Hands down it was the best decision I made this year.  Some of the stories from other women broke my heart and were hard to listen to.  The consequences of this illness are far reaching with the worse consequences being pretty much the worst you can think of.  I have reflected on so many things these ladies have said, mostly how if you took pregnancy out of the equation, this illness would attract so much more attention.  This seems absolutely ludicrous to me as surely the life of an unborn baby and the suffering of a human being should be forefront of everyone’s mind.  The judgement, the stigma, the absolute devastation on lives, how is it in 2014 this is happening!
Today I made two decisions.  Today I set up a monthly payment to PSS.  Today I am going think about how I can apply my skills – if not time to this cause.  This charity wasn’t around when I had HG and so I never actually received the amazing support it offers   there is also the fact I will never need it in the future as we have had to make the decision not to have any more children.  So why am I doing this?
I am doing this because I don’t want to hear any more stories of women going through the isolation and suffering I went through, because we obviously have so much left to do to give the illness a different face.  Let’s consider the facts:
-          Pregnancy Sickness Support is driving the potential for change for pregnant women with HG worldwide
-          Pregnancy Sickness Support is pushed to capacity
-          Pregnancy Sickness Support has a support model which is unlike any other support system for women with HG anywhere in world. It is truly pioneering.
-          Pregnancy Sickness Support and it's partner organisations are leading the way in research, which could impact on women and unborn babies throughout the world
-          Because of Pregnancy Sickness Support there are women that now have their babies in their arms instead of mourning a loss
The biggest reason why I and all of us should continue to support the work is because if we went through Hyperemesis Gravidarum then it is likely our daughters and granddaughters are doomed to suffer the same fate.  What a devastating thought.  Think about your children now – don’t you wish you could take on every single little piece of suffering for them?  From a sore tooth, to a fever you’d do it in a heartbeat.  Think about years from now having to watch them go through the same as us and knowing there is little we could do.  What if by investing today we can produce a cure - that this is not the future that is in store for our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, sisters and friends?
My two HG survivors!
What I am trying to say is that by giving a little, whatever you are able, you are changing a lot.  If every person who liked the PSS Facebook page gave £3 a month, that’s the price of a coffee, that would total £104,868 a year - enough to run, grow and develop the entire support network without any other external support – that would effectively enable PSS to provide one-to-one support to every single women in the UK who sufferers HG.
If all those who have received support in the past gave £3 a month that would total over £18,000 a year – enough to further the capacity for research.
And what if the family and friends of those all donated a regular amount each month or a one off payment – I don’t want to labour the point but you get the gist.
I don’t want to sound preachy and talking about money is never easy for a charity and I know there are those can afford nothing, but the issue of funding is a MASSIVE one and has to be addressed. 
Without funding what would happen to the current structure?  The way the charity is currently run is very effective for those it provides support for but is unsustainable.  In a sentence – it can not continue in this way.  Services would be scaled back, one on one support would go, the plans for research would not be realised and the face of HG will remain unchanged.
I am doing this today because it is so easy to put things off until tomorrow and then it gets forgotten along with good intentions.  As Emma Watson so eloquently said in her speech recently ‘if not now, when?’   

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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

I didn't suffer, but I get it – by Angela Warwick

I have four children ranging from 10-22 years old and I was lucky to never suffer more than a whiff of nausea in a couple of my pregnancies. But my friend Caitlin did... man, did she suffer! She was sick all the time and we just didn't see her for the long nine months that she went through three times to get her gorgeous kids. She was a completely unrecognisable person while she was pregnant, mainly she was bloody miserable to be honest and that's not like her at all.

Since her last pregnancy I've watched how she has turned the condition on it's head and worked her socks off to improve care and treatment for other women. We hang out a lot and our weekend plans to chill on the beach or camp with the kids are frequently interrupted by desperate calls to women in terrible conditions. And I see how affected by them she is. She'll get off the phone ranting and raving like a loon about how the ignorant doctors took the poor women off her life saving medication or how this poor women wants her baby so much yet sees no option but to terminate as her doctors refuse even the most basic of medications. And then I hear about the information she's given them and the plan they have made and I see her get her laptop out to match them with a suffers. Wine O'Clock can't start until the volunteer has had a handover and she's let the sufferer know help is coming.  

I also hear about the financial situation of this priceless charity. I know that Caitlin doesn't see a penny for the hard work she puts in and in fact she has raised thousands of pounds herself just to make sure these women don't suffer alone... like she did. We've spend evenings brainstorming ideas for the charity's development and how to change the stigma around the condition but there is always the same sticking point... money. Or rather, the glaring lack of money!

So, I'm going to do my bit! I'm doing a triathlon in September and I want to raise sponsorship for Pregnancy Sickness Support. Triathlons are pretty hard core and it's only my second ever one, but they are nothing compared to surviving a pregnancy with hyperemesis gravidarum... the women who do that are truly hard core, and I'll be thinking of them while I swim, run and cycle my way round St Ives. 

If you would like to show your support and sponsor me you can click here to get to my Virgin Money Page.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Nicola and Gary Leap 4 HG!

On Sunday 24th August Nicola Lennon and her partner Gary bravely took a leap 4 HG and skydived at the Black Knights Parachute Centre, Lancaster in aid of PSS and the HER Foundation! Pictures at the end of this post!

Nicola is mum to her two boys and proudly states that “jumping out of a plane is easy compared what I endured with my HG pregnancies... I wanted to show my support and awareness for HG women and help out the HER Foundation who was such a great support for me during my pregnancies. This is my way of saying thank you to HER and letting HG moms know that HG gave me a new perspective on life, take nothing for granted and enjoy each day!”  Read Nicola's HG story.

Nicola has set up a donation page for her jump and all proceeds will benefit Pregnancy Sickness Support and the Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation in the USA.  So far they have raised a whopping £290 but there is plenty of space for more!  Please donate to show your support -

Raising Awareness!

Walking to the plane...

Gary boarding the plane

Well done Nicola!

Well done Gary!


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Nothing Seems Hard After Hyperemesis Gravidarum By Abi Briggs

100 days ago I gave birth to my second hyperemesis baby and I felt well for the first time in a long time. I have now lived, or rather I have survived, through a total of 546 days of pregnancy.

During that time I .....

·         Felt nauseous 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

·         Spat around 450,000 times due to ptyalism (disgusting but true)

·         Vomited around 2,500 times

·         Needed over 1,000 injections of anti-sickness medication (my poor bottom)

·         Required more than 30 hospital visits

·         Had 5 extra scans to ensure my babies were still growing (one wasn't)

·         Had 1 husband lose 1 job because of my hyperemesis gravidarum

·         Swallowed a lot of pills

·         Cried a lot of tears

·         Thought a few suicidal thoughts

·         And of course had countless IV cannulas and bags of fluid (I can't work that one out because my brain is hurting now)
So if I could do all that just to get my precious babies, could you spare a measly £3, or whatever you can afford, to sponsor me to run 10 kilometres and help Pregnancy Sickness Support (Hyperemesis) UK support other women with hyperemesis?
Pregnancy Sickness Support (PSS) were a lifeline for me and my family when I was pregnant with my daughter in 2011 and again with my son in 2013. They were always there to offer support, specialist knowledge and encouragement and if it wasn't for the work of this amazing charity them I might not now have my two beautiful children. Even as a midwife I found it incredibly hard to advocate for myself and access the live saving treatment I needed. Many women simply don't know where to turn or how to access help and suffer needlessly as a result.
It costs £50 just to match a woman with HG with a trained volunteer and that doesn't include the day to day running costs of the charity. Without much needed donations from the public PSS might not be able to carry on with this valuable work, so I'm running a 10K in September to try to give a tiny bit back of what they gave me. Please give whatever you can, I promise it will do so much to help a woman in need. You can donate via my BT MyDonate page, thank you.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Our Volunteer Claire gives a Talk about HG to Local Midwives

Volunteer Claire, picture centre holding one of our posters, at her talk last week

On Friday, Claire, one of our volunteers, gave a talk to her local midwifery team. It was something she had been planning to do for a while, because she felt so grateful for the support she had been given by her own midwife. 

Claire described how at one point her GP wouldn't change the medication she was on, despite the fact she was suffering from terrible side effects. It was at this point that her midwife stepped in and supported Claire in getting the treatment she needed:

"Pauline spoke to a consultant at the hospital and it was the start of the process that got me [a different prescription]. And then later when the GP wouldn't re-prescribe [it] she sorted that too."

Such advocacy on behalf of the patient should be celebrated and we are so glad that Claire was able to meet up with Pauline and her colleagues to express how much of a difference it makes and introduce other ways in which they could support women with HG.

Claire not only shared her own experiences but also gave the midwives information about Pregnancy Sickness Support and the Volunteer Network that she is part of.

"It went really well," she says. "They were so interested - loads of questions and interaction! One of the team was particularly interested, she's got a friend who suffered and is starting a Masters [degree] soon where the topic is about empowering women and she's thinking of making it about HG. So we swapped numbers."

We'd like to thank Claire for taking the time to prepare and give this talk to her local midwifery team as it sounds like it was a real success. And we'd like to thank the midwives for taking the time to attend and learn more about HG.

If you'd like to give a similar talk to your own local midwives, then please do get in touch with us. Our trustee, Susie, has information slides which she created for her own talk and which she would be happy to share with you. We can also provide you with information leaflets, posters, and balloons to take with you.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day 2014 - What are YOU doing?

Today is International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day 2014

All of us at Pregnancy Sickness Support (PSS) have been gearing up for this day ever since the last one in 2013. It is a fantastic opportunity for us all to come together and raise awareness of just what Hyperemesis Gravidarum is, how it affects families, and the support that is currently available. It is also a great chance to raise much needed funds to enable us to continue offering that support and allow us to look to the future and grow.

Last year our Nine Months Of Team started out with big plans. It hasn't been easy and we've had to adapt throughout the year as our individual challenges brought unforeseen difficulties we had to overcome. But here we are, at the end point of the challenge, and the team has raised a staggering £1,134.35, totally smashing their £900 target. Let's give them a cheer!

But that's not the end... some of the team still have to complete their challenges. Some of the physical challenges such as the 3 Peaks, are yet to come - the Nine Months Of was spent merely training for the big event. We'll update you on those in due course. And Amanda's challenge of Nine Months Of crochet has culminated in a handmade auction on eBay with over 60 donations. The auction ends on Sunday, so why not check it out and grab yourself a sweet handmade gift whilst supporting PSS (100% of all winning bids go straight to the charity).

And then there is the Big Brew. We introduced the idea to you just a few weeks ago and already so many of you have expressed a wish to gather together with friends, family and colleagues to celebrate friendship, have a natter, and raise awareness and funds at the same time. Our Nine Months Of team member Susie had always planned on holding a coffee morning at the end of her own challenge, but little did she know that she'd be joined by others in a new fundraising campaign!

If you don't know what the Big Brew is about, then here it is in a nutshell: grab a cuppa, grab a friend, take the opportunity to discuss HG and what support means to you and anyone suffering from it, and raise a little bit of money to help us continue providing the support that means so much. We've even created a video for you to share over your tea and cake. There's a version you can play on your computer here, and a mobile version you can find here. I've watched it several times already and each time it's made me rather emotional, so make sure you have some tissues at the ready!

If you can't hold an actual Big Brew, why not consider holding a virtual one? A couple of our volunteers have already decided to do this. Simply arrange a time to meet with friends, come together online in whichever way works best for you (be it Facebook, Twitter or any other means of communicating) and have a chat. You can ask all those who participate to donate to PSS - just direct them to the information on how to donate on our website.

And if you hold a Big Brew, don't forget to share your photos and stories with us afterwards. We'd love to hear how it went so that we can share it with others. If you send us your photos and the total amount raised, we'll collect it all together and update on the blog later in the month.

Finally, we're excited to announce that Sweetpea Pantry are supporting us in the Big Brew and offering our supporters a 10% discount on products bought through their website... and even better, 10% of all sales will be donated to PSS. All you need to do is enter the code 'bigbrew' at the checkout to claim your discount.

Sweetpea Pantry are the perfect place to find supplies for all your baking needs: full of goodness with all natural and super ingredients like whole-grain flours, oats, quinoa, teff, chia and flax, Sweetpea Pantry's mixes for biscuits, pizza and pancakes make baking at home easy, delicious and fun. If your Big Brew event has inspired you to get baking more often, then why not pop on over and see what goodies they have in store.

With so much going on today it can seem difficult to know where to start, but the important thing is to just enjoy it.  Let's come together and have a great time whilst raising awareness and funds and really make the most of International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day 2014. We cannot wait to see what a difference you make!

Good Luck...

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!