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.  

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