'My morning sickness was so bad I'm not having any more kids'

Crippling illness during pregnancy can be enough to stop women wanting any more children.
Crippling illness during pregnancy can be enough to stop women wanting any more children. Photo: Getty Images

Around two thirds of women will experience morning sickness during their pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester. But while many women experience unpleasant feelings of nausea, only a handful suffer from the extreme and unrelenting morning sickness known as hyperemesis gravidarum - like Jade, a mum of one. 

Jade* was three weeks into her pregnancy when she started feeling unwell. Although she had been expecting some morning sickness, she was shocked at how severe her symptoms were. "I couldn't keep anything down at all," she recalls.

"I probably vomited at least eight times a day, and even when my stomach was empty I would find my self dry-retching for hours at a time."

Having been told that in many cases morning sickness starts to ease at the end of the first trimester, Jade tried to battle though. But rather than getting better, her symptoms became progressively worse.

"There were times that I would wake up in the middle of the night just vomiting," says Jade.

During the last three months of her pregnancy Jade became so unwell that she needed to visit the hospital almost every day. "I was so dehydrated from all the vomiting but I couldn't keep anything down, so had to receive fluids via an IV drip," she says.

At 37 weeks Jade's obstetrician advised her to book in for an elective C-section because her baby wasn't growing as much as he should have been. Jade says her memories of bonding with her new baby are as clear as her memories of eating again after eight months of morning sickness: "I had a piece of banana bread first, it tasted so good!"

Although Jade is enjoying motherhood, her horrendous pregnancy has left her certain of one thing: she does not want to be pregnant ever again. "I get chills just thinking about it," she says emphatically.

While it's entirely understandable for women like Jade to stop at one, Katrina Zaslavsky, author of A Modern Woman's Guide to a Natural Empowering Birth, says that it is important to be 100 per cent sure about your choice. "Think it through carefully and in the end listen to your heart, so you'll have no regrets in years to come," she explains.

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Zaslavsky notes that just as children are different from one another, pregnancies can differ too. "Just because you had a rough time in the morning sickness department the first time, there is no guarantee that it will be the same again. Maybe next time will be different," she says.

Dr Pauline Joubert, an obstetrician at the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane, says that women who thought they would have more than one child but who have been put off by morning sickness should consider talking it through with an expert.

"I have had women come to me for pre-pregnancy counseling that primarily involved discussion about this problem," she says.

In terms of working though the fear of recurrence, Dr Joubert suggests that women employ a variety of techniques such as acupuncture and naturopathy. "They cause no harm and have great potential to alleviate the physical, emotional and psychological stress related to pregnancy illness," she explains.

Dr Joubert notes that the risk of recurrence is15-20 per cent – that is, there is a 75-80 per cent chance that the sickness might not be as bad the second time round.  

But for some women the risk is just too great. Kim-Marie* had terrible morning sickness during her first and only pregnancy and says there is "no way" she would do it again.

"I had 37 weeks of throwing up every single day. Even brushing my teeth made me throw up. I had to drive with a bucket on my lap. I couldn't go on a bus or a ferry. I could only sit in the front seat of a car and had to sleep upright!" she explains.

"All the horrible stuff was totally worth it to have my son," says Kim-Marie. "But there is absolutely no way I could go through it all again."

*Surnames withheld