interview with HG Australia founder Caitlin Kay-Smith.
5 min read
biglittlethings proudly donates 5% of our profits to Hyperemesis Gravidarum Australia. A non-profit organisation that supports, raises awareness & advocates for pregnant women suffering from HG.
we sat down with founder Caitlin Kay-Smith to find out more about all things HG, pregnancies & what to do if you, or a mama you know, is suffering through this.
biglittlethings | thank you so much for taking the time to have a chat!
firstly, I want to thank you for doing what you do for HG. I know when I was going through it when I was pregnant with our daughter, the support & the reassurance I had made me feel like I wasn't alone & that I had a place to go to seek advice, or support was there, so thank you for providing that platform for us HG mamas.
B | tell us a bit about yourself & your HG story.
C | I am the mum of one little girl, who is now 16 months old. We live in the South of Sydney with my husband and our dog, Mr Fox.
Monty was my first pregnancy and I suffered from week 4 to when I delivered at 39 weeks. I would describe my HG as mild but consistent - I was sick every day, in hospital a lot and really struggled but I think that was in large part because I wasn't treated correctly or by anyone who understood what I needed.
B | why did you start HGA?
C | I've never been the sort of person who could see something unfair and just let it slide. I knew that the way I'd been treated during my pregnancy wasn't right and that there were countless other women suffering, in the same way, each day.
I got in touch with the team at Pregnancy Sickness Support, in August 2018, to ask for advice on how to replicate their model here. There's a lot of behind the scenes setup up that goes into creating a charity, so there was a few months of slogging away, talking to lawyers and filling in forms.
While HG is a difficult condition to manage, there are simple ways to make a woman more comfortable. One of those ways is to believe her, support her and be kind to her. It sounds straightforward but is sadly lacking in so many interactions HG mums have with the health care system. I never want a woman with HG or NVP to be made to feel worse because someone was simply uneducated.
B | what has been your biglittle achievement since starting HGA?
C | Getting charitable status was a huge deal for me. It had been almost twelve months of tedious setup to get us to that place and when we were endorsed by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission I was elated. It meant we were a legitimate organisation who could affect real and lasting change.
B | what's the future like for HG research & support?
C | I'd say it's expansive. Australia has the benefit of being able to look to the rest of the world for examples of what is possible. There are amazing organisations in Europe, the UK and the US who have been working in this field for decades - we don't have to reinvent the wheel. It's exciting to know that change is coming and that we can be a part of it.
But the research is only one part of it. Women will still be suffering for a long time to come and need our help. To be able to send an email to a sick woman and let her know that she's seen and heard is a huge step. And we hope that the existence of HGA and the work we plan to do in the future is of comfort to these women.
B | what's the one thing support people should know about sufferers of HG?
C | That more than anything they need respect and kindness. They need their suffering validated and to be comforted in the dark times. It's all consuming and isn't just about the physical ramifications - which are extreme - but that the mental impact is huge too. A kind word can change the course of a sufferers day and is so easy to give.
B | what's one thing you should never say to a HG mama?
C | Anything that minimises the condition - it's a huge deal. I like to say that if you wouldn't say it to someone with cancer or diabetes or some other chronic health condition don't say it to a HG sufferer.
B | what does 2020 look like for HGA?
C | Jam packed. Hopefully we spend the year talking to lots of health care professionals, disseminating the SOMANZ guidelines and really establishing ourselves as an organisation that's both there for our women and there to make real change to the system.
B | what does the support & donations mean for HGA?
C | Gosh, it makes us cry every time someone donates. Because every cent goes towards making life better for women who are suffering. Because we both know what it's like to be in the depths of HG we know what it means to have someone acknowledge your suffering and that's what every dollar does.
We've been inundated with women who want to volunteer for our peer support network too. And it just shows the greatness of women - that these mums would take time away from their families to revisit the hell of HG if it means supporting someone else. It's honestly so humbling and life affirming.
B | & now a very serious question - what three things are on your Christmas list to buy from biglittlethings?
C I'm buying the Piyama Co Lounge Set and matching baby suit for my best friend who's just had a baby, the Ina Swim Mara suit for Monty and the Babe Blends to get us through some future toddler tantrums!
to find out more about HG Australia & Hyperemesis Gravidarum visit;