The emotional impact of pregnancy sickness

Nausea and vomiting are common in pregnant women, affecting around 80% of pregnancies, with varying degrees of severity and duration. Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), extreme nausea and excessive vomiting, occurs in approximately 1% of pregnancies.

This serious medical condition can cause uncontrollable nausea, persistent retching and vomiting, severe dehydration, debilitating exhaustion and weight loss. Pregnancy sickness can leave women feeling distressed, anxious, depressed, isolated, guilty, angry, powerless and struggling to function or cope. It can sometimes be accompanied by a sense of grieving or loss of a ‘normal,’ 'glowing' or 'blooming' pregnancy experience.

Some women describe how their experiencing of pregnancy sickness is misunderstood or minimised by others, leaving them feeling unsupported, unseen or unheard. They say that 'other people just don’t get it.’ Some women contemplate terminating a planned pregnancy due to the unbearable nature of their suffering and the inadequate medical and/or emotional care that is available to them.

Pregnancy sickness can be an emotional as well as a physical experience for women. It can be traumatising and it can impact on a woman’s sense of self or identity. It may not be something that women are able to recover from or forget about the minute their symptoms cease or their babies are born.

It can be important for women to have an opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts around their pregnancy sickness experience and to feel understood and supported. Counselling can provide a safe, contained, supportive space for women to talk about how pregnancy sickness is or was for them.

If you would like to read more about pregnancy sickness click here to visit the Pregnancy Sickness Support website.