Primary Care Show – May 2024 – A day to reflect on International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day

Attending exhibitions wasn’t a first for Pregnancy Sickness Support, but the Primary Care Show was certainly the largest event we’ve exhibited at. I was initially concerned that our small stand might be overshadowed by the larger, more extravagant ones offering bags of goodies (I always have a bowl of chocolates on hand as an icebreaker, but that’s the extent of our giveaways!). Fortunately, my worries were unfounded.

While my feet recover from the extensive walking to and from the car park and my legs regain feeling after standing for eight hours each day, I’ve been reflecting on the event as a whole and the benefits of attending such events for PSS.

It was serendipitous that the first day of the Show coincided with International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day (#HGAD24), providing the perfect opportunity to discuss HG with anyone willing to listen! Our primary goal in attending the Primary Care Show was to raise awareness of our charity and to increase knowledge about the new RCOG guidelines, particularly among GPs. I was eager to speak with anyone working with pregnant individuals.

The range of professionals in attendance was far more extensive than at other events, where the focus has mainly been on midwives. This event, being Primary Care focused, included GPs, nurses, midwives, podiatrists, physiotherapists, and even university lecturers. This diversity allowed me to tailor conversations to make them as relevant as possible to each professional, though I admittedly had little to offer the podiatrists!

Over the two days, I had some wonderful conversations. One woman rushed over on her way to a talk and exclaimed, “Thank you for existing! I found you while I was pregnant and your support was invaluable.” Other women shared their own HG experiences, many dating back almost 20 years when treatments were less known. Hearing their harrowing stories about coping without proper treatment was difficult, but it was reassuring to see that, although far from perfect, HG care has improved over the past two decades.

Of course, there were some frustrations, particularly with GPs who walked past or avoided eye contact, possibly thinking pregnancy isn’t a primary care issue. However, many recognised that HG is indeed a primary care concern. For those who stopped to chat, I was able to share the new RCOG guidelines, including an appendix with a management plan specifically for GPs, making their job easier.

We discussed medication options, including Xonvea, a new medication licensed for use in pregnancy since 2018. The fact that it is licensed and included in the guidelines makes Xonvea a valuable addition to UK formularies, although its availability remains inconsistent. We hope that having a licensed medication will increase GPs’ confidence in prescribing it to pregnant women suffering from severe Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy.

One of the highlights of exhibiting at events like the Primary Care Show is meeting other exhibitors. I am always amazed by the important work done by other charities, and this event was no exception. Breast Cancer Now and Overeaters Anonymous were our neighbours at the Show, and it was great to learn about their offerings. Being away from home can be tough, so seeing familiar faces each day was reassuring and provided some light relief between the heavier conversations with former sufferers.

Reflecting on the Primary Care Show, it was a very positive experience. We connected with numerous GPs, midwives, nurses, and other professionals, many of whom had never heard of Pregnancy Sickness Support. These connections will lead to more volunteers for PSS, greater awareness of our charity, and ultimately, better care for sufferers as healthcare professionals now know where to get more information about the condition and where to direct women for support.

Next year we hope to continue our commitment to attend shows, exhibitions and conferences to spread the word. Of course, we always need funding to help us achieve this so if you want to donate to the charity (wink, wink) please do! Your contributions could go towards us empowering more healthcare professionals to treat this debilitating condition.

Lindsay Salmon is our Community & Engagement Manager and can be reached at project@pregnancysicknesssupport.org.uk 

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