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The Postpartum Impact of Hyperemesis Gravidarum

meWhen I was only a few weeks pregnant I woke up to the very familiar feelings of nausea followed by intense vomiting. It wasn’t a surprise, I was expecting its arrival and waiting, but the fierceness of the sickness was a surprise. A few weeks later I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, and for the following 33 weeks, it was a daily and consistent force in my life.

I was medicated with eight doses of anti-nausea pills daily to keep the vomiting to a limit of only a handful of times a day. I picked up a large list of food aversions and struggled to find anything that was not going to immediately be rejected by my body — a list that was very small. As the end of my pregnancy drew near, I was not only excited to meet my child and bring him safely into the world, but to be able to be around food again, to eat when I wanted, and to stop feeling so sick.

Twenty pounds lighter at 38 weeks pregnant after a complication-free c-section, my small-to-me son was brought into the world, and I was excited to be free from the fears pregnancy brought. I was also very excited to be able to eat again, to stop being so sick all the time. And waited for that to happen with great anticipation.

Living with hyperemesis gravidarum is hard to explain to anyone who has not lived through it. I’ve had people look at me and say they would take it on happily so they didn’t have to gain any weight during pregnancy — or to be another 30 pounds lighter only a few months after birth. But, clearly they don’t quite get what it was like  – or how it still affects me three months after my son’s birth.

That wait I had during pregnancy to be able to enjoy food again? I am still waiting.

That long list of food aversions? I still have them.

Hyperemesis gravidarum changed the way I saw food — and not in a positive way. I know that now these food aversions are mental and not caused by the chemical and hormonal changes of pregnancy, but it’s still very real. I am still waiting for my energy to return to what it was and where it should be. Vomiting also caused some havoc to my teeth (thankfully it’s not as bad as it could have been, but I’ve been visiting my dentist a lot the past few months).

When I was very early in pregnancy, I had no idea just how much nausea and vomiting could linger in the postpartum period. According to the HER (Hyperemesis Education & Research) Foundation, I am not alone in the postpartum struggle to heal from hyperemesis gravidarum, and it could take up to two years to be fully there.

:: Did you have any ongoing issues from your pregnancy into the postpartum period? Share in the comments! ::

Photo credit: © Devan McGuinness

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Devan is a freelance writer living in Toronto, Ontario with her husband and four kids. Read more from  on Babble and “like” Accustomed Chaos on Facebook!  

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