In this NYT article, “Hyperemesis Gravidarum: When Morning Sickness Is So Extreme You Can’t Function,” Patricia Waldron dives into the difference between hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) and the morning sickness of a healthy, normal pregnancy.
Waldron interviews Her Foundation’s Kimber MacGibbon, Co-founder/Executive Director, and Marlena Fejzo, a Geneticist and on HER Board of Directors. The article addresses when a sick mother should seek assistance from medical professionals, the safest treatments available, the non-medical steps a woman can take to help prevent worsening her HG, the importance of community, and the risks of untreated HG.
Women with HG require many levels of support in order to survive as treating the disease with medication alone may not be enough. A mother with hyperemesis gravidarum will likely require vitamin replacement therapy, and may require parenteral/enteral nutrition, IV hydration, mental health care, and community/familial advocacy and support. If the HG is severe and/or prolonged, the mother may need continued mental health support for disorders such as PTSD in the postpartum period and her child may require neurodevelopmental intervention due to exposure to HG in utero. Furthermore, MacGibbon and Fejzo state that if the mother is unable to receive the support and treatment she needs, she may feel an abortion is her only chance at financial and physical survival.
The article includes discussion of how current barriers to finding a cure for hyperemesis may be rooted in historical context, citing that victim blaming and human error are responsible for the lack of progress we see today. While current research and studies have revealed so much, so quickly, regarding the etiology of this disease, much of the progress that could have been made in earlier years was lost due to the medication safety blunders of the 1950’s and 60’s.
The HER Foundation would like to thank Patricia Waldron and The New York Times for giving a voice to all mothers affected by HG.