Grandparents often offer crucial support for mothers with HG.
You may have endured HG or seen it happen to one of your daughters or sisters. You likely know the mother better than anyone and may be the best ones to know how to be there for her. The help that is most beneficial for her is consistent and reliable support. Mom's often say emotional support is more helpful than childcare or household help. The best way to know is to be there and ask.
One of the most frequent disappointments we hear is that family and friends are very supportive initially, but then become distant over time. Women with HG often are reluctant to ask for help, and feel terribly guilty needing so much without offering anything in return. Life can become very isolating and lonely, especially for women with prolonged HG. Depression often results, and she may experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Try to be there as long as she needs, even when she cannot give in return. Your relationship will likely grow deeper as a result.
Ways you can support her through this difficult time:
- Offer as much help as you reasonably can for childcare, house cleaning, meal preparation, errands, etc.
- Ask her to keep a list of tasks and errands she needs completed and find others to come by and help with one or two.
- Try to avoid getting too tired or burned out. You need to care for yourself as well. She will also sense your frustration and feel guilty burdening you.
- If possible, call other friends and family that are close to her and educate them on her illness. Ask how they would like to help, such as calling her weekly.
- Encourage her to be as active as she can, however, understand she may need to rest often. Fatigue and motion worsen nausea/vomiting.
- Be there to let her cry or vent her frustrations. Offer understanding and suggestions to help her cope. Know that her emotions are real. They are either positively or negatively influenced by her illness, the support she receives, and her genetic sensitivity to the hormonal changes of pregnancy. Read more in our Mother's Survival Guide.
- Try to get her out of the house for something fun, even for a short time, as often as she tolerates. She may feel encouraged after a movie, or brief trip to a baby store with you.
- Think of something to add enjoyment to her life, such as flowers if the scent is ok, magazines on decorating the baby's room, or catalogs with baby gear. This helps depression.
- Help her plan for the baby's arrival and determine what she will need. HG can leave her very depressed and miserable. Keep her focused on the baby that will soon bring joy to her life.
- If she is ill during the holidays, try to find ways to include her in the festivities. If there are other grandchildren, plan a few special holiday traditions to enjoy with them. Decorate her house without scented items or bright lights, but don't forget to come back and help clean up.
- If she is not improving, considering abortion, or you feel her care is inadequate, quickly coordinate with the father or partner to find another health professional and/or e-mail us.
- Encourage her to read this site, join our Facebook group, and contact our Volunteers for emotional support.
- Bring meals by to ease the burden on her partner. Prepare healthy snacks for the kids that don't require mom's help and maybe take the kids out for a short bit to play.
- Actively help her avoid or eliminate triggers of her vomiting/nausea in her environment.
- Try to help her identify foods she can eat and prepare them for her if time allows. Often preparing food increases her nausea and creates an aversion that can last for years.
- Ask her what you can do to help her most. She may not tell you otherwise.
- Know that HG can last well past the first trimester, possibly until delivery. Try to create a support network to help until she has recovered, which may be several months postpartum.
- Educate yourself on signs of depression both during pregnancy and postpartum. She is at greater risk for depression and Post Traumatic Stress, especially if her symptoms are severe and/or last for more than half of her pregnancy. Make sure she gets help as needed.
- Remember! The support she gets during pregnancy means an easier pregnancy and a healthier baby. Moms, especially those with malnutrition due to HG, experiencing enormous stress during pregnancy have greater risks of children with emotional and developmental challenges.