Monday, 22 December 2014

2014 – What a Year!

Our dedicated volunteers have worked so hard this year to raise funds for our work, increased awareness of hyperemesis and above all supported woman at their most desperate and difficult times... And many of them will continue to dedicate their time and energy to ensure sufferers do not feel even more alone on Christmas day. It's a day which many women report increases the feelings of isolation and being misunderstood as they are surrounded by loved ones who don't understand and smells of food which make the whole thing worse. Our volunteers have been there and they understand.

It's been an incredible year of media attention and award nominations bringing Hyperemesis Gravidarum into the spotlight and raising awareness about it's severity. Our volunteer network has supported nearly 300 women. The helpline and email support has helped hundreds more and the forum is providing support to well over 1,000 women!

On top of support we have worked hard to raise the profile of services such as IV at Home and IV Day Clinics and encouraged more and more hospital trusts to improve their services and guidelines. We've collaborated on research and developed partnerships with other key organisations. 2015 will see more and more of this progress with Greentop Guidelines coming out, our Healthcare Professional Conference in May and further growth of the Support Network.

To finish off 2014 and to honour the work of our volunteers, here is some of the feedback we've received from the women they have supported this year...

[My Volunteer] was amazing. We texted all the way through my pregnancy. She was an amazing support. My pregnancy was truly hellish; and she was the only one who I could speak to that really understood.”

Invaluable text support in my darkest hours during my pregnancy. Information about her personal experience which helped me significantly and just someone on the other end of the phone that knew what I was going through.”

[My volunteer] maybe didn't know at the time how much a text once per day simply asking "how are you feeling today" helped me so much. I'm not sure if I could describe it enough in words how much [My Volunteer] was supporting me, and how much it meant to me. It was like she was my walking stick when I needed to get up and walk/ shower, and my pillow when I needed to rest. We had all of our contact over text, and when I started to feel better around week 20 - I asked if we could have a call as I wanted to thank her from the bottom of my heart. She still texts me every so often to check in and ask me how I'm doing, and its as if she is just as excited as me for my little ones arrival next year. I'm so grateful for PSS and [My Volunteer's] support.”

When we spoke it was as if she was there by my side, fighting for my cause. I felt very weak and unsure what was happening at the time and felt such a sense of relief that she, and PSS were there to support me. Fantastic charity, and people who work for PSS.”

She's been amazing! She's helped me at my lowest with HG & as I had 2 previous losses, she's been there as an emotional support when I've been petrified I'd lose again!”

She [my volunteer] is amazing and really helped me over come many fears with her encouragement. She has been an angel.”

I didn't feel alone in my experience and suffering anymore and realised the sickness wasn't due to doing something wrong or not being strong enough”

THANK YOU! We have a beautiful healthy baby girl.”

This is a lifesaver of a charity.”

To all our dedicated volunteers, all the women suffering at the moment and all our supporters around the globe, have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year...

...And lets all work together to make 2015 even more spectacular!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Fundraising Ideas - How can YOU help?

As we've previously mentioned here on the blog, we desperately need funds to continue providing support services and to develop our work even further. However we currently receive no external funding and so we rely entirely on donations.

Over the past couple of years we have seen an increase in donations, which has enabled us to develop our Support Network thus far, and we would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to raise funds for us. As one of our volunteers wrote in a recent guest post, every little bit helps and it doesn't take much to make a real difference, if everyone gets involved!

But we know it can be difficult sometimes to know just how you can help. What can you do that will make a difference? How can you fit it in around increasingly busy lives, around work and family commitments, and during a time when many people are struggling to make ends meet themselves?

Well, the answer is that there is a lot you can do. And most of it is really easy too. We've compiled a list of some of our favourites, which we hope get you started!

So how can you help?

  • Consider setting up a monthly donation to PSS via direct debit. You can do this easily via Virgin Give Money. It does not have to be much – just £3 per month (the cost of a cup of coffee and a cake) will go a long way! In fact since we discussed this at our annual conference earlier this month, PSS has increased its monthly donations by £45 thanks to a handful of delegates setting up monthly donations. 
  • When shopping online, try and use systems such as Easy Fundraising  and Give as You Live . These systems are so easy to use and do not cost you a penny! You simply sign up, choose PSS as your charity, and download a little widget. Every time you shop online at a participating store (you’ll be surprised at how many stores are involved in this), it will ask you if you wish to turn donations on… if you click yes, the store will donate a percentage of your total spend with them to PSS. This percentage varies between stores, most give around 1.5-2% but some give up to a staggering 8-15% and all at no extra cost to you!
  • If you attend any local groups, or know of any independent local businesses, ask if they would be willing to have a donation pot for PSS. This means that when people visit and see the pot they may consider giving some of their spare change to charity. A local maternity clinic or ward may also consider having a donation pot.
  • If you work, find out whether your employer would allow you to hold a fundraising event for PSS. Earlier this month we received over £600 from Home Loan Management in Skipton that was raised during such a fundraising drive. Many employers will also consider “match funding”, which means they will match whatever you raise, thereby doubling your donation. Large organisations such as supermarkets also often have fundraising initiatives that their employees can take part in, so it is always worth checking with your employer if there are opportunities available.
  • Consider getting the whole family involved in some form of sponsorship. We’ve had supporters complete sponsored runs and walks, but we haven’t really seen many HG survivors (as in the children) taking part. People are often very generous when children decide to do a sponsored activity for charity, and so you could do a sponsored toddle with preschool aged children (perhaps with a local parents group) or a sponsored bike ride with older children who have just learned to ride unaided. We even know of someone whose 4 year old did his own “mini triathlon” last year for Sports Relief.
  • Make the most of seasonal events… Christmas is coming up and that can be a great opportunity for fundraising ideas. You could hold a craft stall with Christmas gifts. Or if you don’t want to send Christmas cards this year, why not donate the money you would have spent on them to PSS – quite a few people choose to do this, it seems. Another fantastic idea was suggested at the conference by one of our delegates – why not set up a stand somewhere and offer to wrap Christmas presents for people in return for donations. It’s easy to come by cheap (or free) wrapping supplies – a lot of people have some leftovers they would be willing to donate or shops may donate some for a good cause. And with increasingly busy lives, a lot of people would happily pay a donation to get their gifts wrapped for them, saving them time in the run up to Christmas. Finding a place to do this may be difficult, but a local church hall or a drop off and pick up point at your child’s school or nursery may be an option too. 
This list is far from exhaustive and there are plenty more ideas out there that you could use to fundraise for us. Why not see what other people are doing and see if it's something you'd like to try too?

As we've said before, every little bit really does help and we are grateful for each and every donation, no matter how small. And if you're planning a fundraising event, do let us know, as we can showcase it here on the blog for you.

Happy Fundraising!

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?’   

Donate via Virgin Money
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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!

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 canapés 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.  

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

New Year Pampering - by Susie

What better way to start the New Year than with a bit of much-needed pampering?

The date of my Charity Pamper Evening in aid of Pregnancy Sickness Support has now been set as Tuesday 28 January at 7pm at Shear Success in Sutton Coldfield.

Tickets have sold fast, so much so that I now have a waiting list! Some people have yet to pay so places may become available. Please let me know as soon as possible if you would like me to put your name on the waiting list.

Here’s the deal:

Tickets are £10 (£5 of which goes to PSS) and guests will receive a drink on arrival and canapés.

Everyone will receive:

·         a head, shoulder and neck massage,
·         a stress relieving hand and arm massage, and
·         hair style or colour advice.

As well as a choice of:

·         a mini facial,
·         a mini massage,
·         threading,
·         a mini manicure or mini pedicure, or
·         a part-body spray tan.

It promises to be an excellent evening. I look forward to seeing you there!