Women suffering severe pregnancy sickness are not getting required support, new research shows

March 14, 2017, University of Plymouth
Credit: University of Plymouth

New research suggests that more than half of women suffering with severe pregnancy sickness – Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) – are not given the help they need to deal with the condition; leaving some with no choice but to terminate wanted pregnancies.

The study was carried out by Caitlin Dean, PhD student in the School of Health Professions, alongside charities Pregnancy Sickness Support (PSS) and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS).

The researchers surveyed the experiences of 394 women, finding that only 34 per cent of participants felt they were given accurate information to make informed decisions about medications and treatment.

Many women reported being given false information about the risks of drugs such as Ondansetron, a treatment listed in the Royal Collage of Obstetrician and Gynaecologists Greentop guidelines as safe and effective for treating hyperemesis.

One study participant told of her experience:

"I was told [Ondansetron] was the strongest drug which isn't true and made to believe when it didn't work that thing else could be done. I terminated my baby because of this and now spiralled into depression."

Half of women found accessing treatment was difficult because they were often not believed when presenting to their doctor or midwife, and 25 per cent of women felt they were not treated with dignity and respect.

The research compared women's experiences of treatment in hospital wards and HG units – specialist centres within early units and gynaecology wards where women can attend for rapid IV rehydration and return home the same day.

Women were significantly more satisfied with treatment in day units and spend half as much time in hospital, representing a significant cost saving for the NHS.

Where care was good the impact was substantial, with women thanking their for enabling them to continue their pregnancy. One study participant praised the care she received:

"The last time I was treated there I had opted to terminate the pregnancy as I just couldn't cope. This time I felt supported every moment… I was given clear treatment options but without false promises, and I was also told that I can go back in whenever I want. I was told 'you know your body best, if you feel ill we'll treat you'…They did a really good job."

Lead researcher Caitlin, who is also chairperson of Pregnancy Sickness Support, said:

"It is vital that service development benefits patients and provides satisfaction. It is encouraging that women are satisfied with treatment in HG Day Units as they are certainly cost effective. However it is important that in whatever setting women receive treatment they are treated with dignity and respect, that their symptoms are acknowledged and believed and that the information they receive is accurate and evidence-based. We may not have a cure for HG yet but we can certainly improve care and treatment through new services, education and awareness."

Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said:

"Any women with this condition who knows she cannot continue her pregnancy must always have swift access to high quality, compassionate abortion care, and deciding to end a pregnancy is something she should never feel ashamed of. However we can and must do more to ensure that women are given all the information they need to make their own decisions about the medication and treatments which may enable them to continue a much wanted pregnancy. Healthcare professionals must trust – if a woman says she is ill and unable to cope – she should be believed and supported, not dismissed.

The full study, titled 'Satisfaction for of in day care' settings compared to hospital admissions, is available to view in midwifery journal MIDIRS Midwifery Digest.

Explore further: More support needed for mums after perinatal loss

More information: www.midirs.org/satisfaction-tr … y-settings-hospital/

Related Stories

More support needed for mums after perinatal loss

March 13, 2017
More support services for pregnant women who have previously suffered miscarriage, stillbirth or the loss of a newborn are needed, according to University of Queensland researchers.

Preemptive treatment of severe morning sickness decreases suffering for moms-to-be

February 11, 2013
`In a study to be presented on February 14 at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, in San Francisco, California, researchers will present data showing the effectiveness of preemptive ...

Hyperemesis gravidarum: no ordinary morning sickness

December 4, 2012
For anyone who has had hyperemesis gravidarum, the pregnancy-induced vomiting that has caused Prince William's wife Kate to be hospitalised, the term "morning sickness" is way off the mark.

Hyperemesis gravidarum during the second trimester is more likely to cause placental complications

January 29, 2013
Pregnancies complicated by hyperemesis gravidarum in the second trimester of pregnancy are at a much higher risk of associated placental dysfunction disorders such as placental abruption and small for gestational age babies ...

Women unaware of specialist phone services in late pregnancy

March 5, 2015
Researchers in England have found women are accessing advice via out-of-hours services when they could be accessing maternity services directly. Also, the out of hours service receives many inquiries from women in the first ...

ACOG: Best evidence for rx of nausea, vomiting in pregnancy

August 20, 2015
(HealthDay)—In a practice bulletin published in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, recommendations are presented for the management of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.

Recommended for you

Air pollutants linked to abnormal fetal growth

February 23, 2018
Chinese mothers who were exposed to a high level of certain air pollutants during pregnancy had a higher risk of abnormal fetal growth, according to a new Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) study.

Scientists discover critical molecular biomarkers of preeclampsia

February 21, 2018
Preeclampsia, a sudden pregnancy complication that can interfere with the blood flow to the placenta and possibly to the fetus, can lead to low birth weight, prematurity and even death. It is also a leading cause of maternal ...

Transgender women can breastfeed, first case study shows

February 16, 2018
The first scientific case study has been published describing how a US transgender woman was able to breastfeed her adopted infant by taking hormones that induce lactation.

Controversial pregnancy test drug shows deformities in zebrafish embryos within hours of exposure

February 13, 2018
The components of a controversial drug, allegedly linked to birth defects in the 1960s and '70s, caused deformations to fish embryos just hours after they received a dose in new studies by researchers at the University of ...

Direct link between glands and implanting embryos critical to pregnancy

February 9, 2018
Researchers used 3D imaging with molecular testing to uncover new insight into the earliest stages of mammalian pregnancy—offering clues to unsolved questions in pregnancy.

Lab-grown eggs could pave way towards new fertility treatments

February 8, 2018
Human eggs have been fully grown in a laboratory, in a move that could lead to improved fertility treatments.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.