Tuesday 25 July 2017

'It was like having food poisoning for nine months' - Mum on severe morning sickness that caused her to lose 2st during pregnancy

Claire MacLoughlin at her home in Artane, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Claire MacLoughlin at her home in Artane, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Gavin White

A Galway woman living in Dublin has likened her rare condition during pregnancy to being the same as "having food poison for months at a time."

Mother of three Claire Mac Loughlin (36) has suffered from a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) during all three of her pregnancies.

The 36-year-old secondary school teacher, who is originally from Galway but now living in Artane in Dublin, said the condition impacted on her most during her third pregnancy with her son Arthur who is two-years-old.

HG is a condition experienced by 1pc to 2pc of pregnancies in Ireland and includes symptoms such as intense nausea and vomiting multiple times every day.

Dehydration and weight loss can develop rapidly and women are at risks of further complications such as malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies.

A new charity called Hyperemsis Ireland set up by leading maternity experts including Caitlin Dean, Chairperson of the UK group Pregnancy Sickness Support, will offer peer to peer support to women who endure HG.

Claire MacLoughlin at her home in Artane, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Claire MacLoughlin at her home in Artane, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Ms Mac Loughlin said it is a "chronic illness" and said she experienced vomiting blood and hair loss during her pregnancies.

"I suffered worse between eight and 16 weeks when I was sick up to 50 times per day.

While the sickness eased, I continued to suffer throughout. I couldn’t work and had to start maternity leave at 24 weeks pregnant.

"HG severely impacted on my ability to lead a normal life during all my pregnancies," she said.

"It is often dismissed as at best morning sickness or at worst a total figment of the imagination. This needs to change and the charity will go a long way towards doing that," she said.

Ms Mac Loughlin said her three children Arthur (2), Henry (8) and Anna (5) are her “entire existence.”

"I am privileged to be their mother," she said. 

She said the support she received from her husband, Phillip King, was invaluable and she "couldn’t have done it without him."

However, she said the condition "affected him badly as it was hard for him to see his wife that way."

The illness continued after pregnancies but the worst case was after having her son Arthur when she said she was still nauseous "for several weeks."

It lasted only a few days in her other pregnancies but the teacher said "some women do not get better."

"I lost two stone in weight and it messes with your eating patterns meaning you do not have good stability," she said.

She said it is "socially very limiting" and can prove to be difficult for expectant mothers who have to take time off work and lose much needed money.

Ms Mac Loughlin said she is "really happy with the new charity."

"Peer to peer volunteers are urgently needed to help women deal with and discuss the physical, psychological and financial impact of the illness on their lives and their family's lives.

"There are a lot of very compassionate and competent Health Care Practitioners out there but education on the subject needs to be up to date and standardised," she said.

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