'I considered aborting my baby': Pregnant woman left vomiting 45 times a day

·5-min read
Rebecca Daniel suffered from a pregnancy condition called hyperemesis gravidarum throughout her pregnancy. (Supplied)
Rebecca Daniel suffered from a pregnancy condition called hyperemesis gravidarum throughout her pregnancy. (Supplied)

Rebecca Daniel and her partner were already having tests for fertility problems when they discovered they were pregnant with their first child.

"We were shocked but delighted," says Rebecca, 34, a transformation coach from Kent. "I’d been told I had fibroids which may be stopping me get pregnant. But I was already expecting. We were so happy."

Within a week of being given their exciting news, Rebecca started vomiting several times a day but accepted it as ‘the norm’ for early pregnancy.

"I was so excited about the baby that I just thought I’d deal with it," she says. ‘" was a secondary English teacher and I didn’t want to let my class down so I’d turn up to work but I’d have to keep rushing out to the toilet to be sick. People kept saying: ‘Oh this is normal, it’s just morning sickness’ so I felt I had to push through."

Rebecca Daniel would be sick up 100 times a day while pregnant. (Supplied)
Rebecca Daniel would be sick up 100 times a day while pregnant. (Supplied)

But in fact, Rebecca’s ‘morning sickness’ was something more serious. She was one of thousands of women who suffer from a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) which leads to prolonged and severe nausea and vomiting. Yesterday (20th October) the UK’s biggest study into HG was published, based on the data of thousands of women.

The report, released by Kings College London and research conducted by BBC News and Sickness support says that some women can be left vomiting up to 100 times a day. The impact leads many to consider terminating their pregnancy, along with ‘suicidal thoughts’.

Read more: Pregnant women may be driven to abortions by extreme morning sickness, new survey reveals

Rebecca empathizes completely. "At the worst point – when I’d been signed off sick from my job – I was vomiting up to 45 times a day and honestly thought I was going to die,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t smell anything or put anything in my mouth without bringing it back up again. I had to wear incontinence pads because the vomiting reflux was so strong that I’d lose bladder control.

"A ‘good’ day was only around 25 purges a day, but I would be housebound. I’d move from my bed to my sofa and back again and that’s all I could do. I tried all the suggested remedies such as ginger or dry crackers but even a sip of water would come back up.’"

By the time she was five months pregnant, Rebecca begged her GP for help and she was prescribed anti-sickness medication. But this made the mother-to-be very nervous.

"Even the doctors were reluctant to give me these drugs because they’re so powerful," she says. "They’re the same ones that they give to cancer patients when they’re feeling nauseous and I was scared that I would be harming my child. I did try to take them, but as with everything else, I’d vomit them back up. So I had no idea how much was in my system and didn’t want to take more in case I overdosed."

At one point, Rebecca’s partner found her almost lifeless on the sofa and rushed her to hospital.

"I had stopped eating and drinking to avoid being sick," she says. "But as soon as I was hooked onto an IV drip, I came alive again. Suddenly I had enough vitamins and fluid and I felt ok. It made me realise that there was an alternative to eating and the hospital gave me a pass to have weekly IV drips. They were a Godsend but unfortunately the hospital told me I could only have them up to six months because it was in the Early Pregnancy Unit. So I was back to square one."

Read more: Greg Rutherford's pregnant fiancée Susie Verrill shares gruelling reality of hyperemesis gravidarum

It was at this point that Rebecca’s mental health took a hit. "I’m really quite a high achiever in other areas of my life and this felt like such a struggle," she admits. "At one point, just before the 24 week termination deadline we did discuss with a doctor whether we should continue with the pregnancy. But we felt we’d longed for a baby and come so far that we would continue. I even asked if I could have a c-section early, but they said that was only possible if the baby was in distress."

Unfortunately the HG returned and it was one vomiting episode that broke Rebecca’s waters when she was overdue. She was vomiting throughout her labour.

"Vomiting while you’re having contractions is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced," she says. "It was horrendous. Yet within seconds of my baby Sophia being born, the nausea lifted and I haven’t felt sick again. I was terrified that she would be born frail and malnourished because I’d hardly eaten a thing but she was a healthy 7lbs 11oz and absolutely fine."

Rebecca says she is unsure whether she could have another child. "Originally we wanted more than one baby, ideally close to each other in age but it’s been four and a half years and we’re only just coming round to the possibility that we might," she says. 

"It’s not the labour or the birth I’m worried about but I’m not sure I can put my body through all that sickness again. There were times when I wasn't sure I could continue. But I know I’ve done it once, which makes me think I might be able to get through it again and of course, I wouldn’t change being a mummy for the world."

Watch: Kate Middleton opened up about having hyperemesis gravidarum

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