“Severe Anxiety and Hyperemesis – Talk About a Tough Pregnancy: Part One” – with Brianna Barclay

By on March 28, 2024

This blog post is based on a Healthful Woman Podcast episode in which Brianna Barclay tells part one of her pregnancy story. Brianna suffers from clinical OCD and an intense fear of medical procedures. During her pregnancy, she also dealt with hyperemesis, which ultimately caused her to lose 35-40 pounds before she delivered her baby.

Brianna lives with clinical OCD and has an intense fear of medical procedures, doctors, and health-associated things. Because of this fear, she had not visited the doctor in about seven years. So, when she discovered she was pregnant, she experienced mixed emotions.

“When I first found I was pregnant, as excited as we were, it was matched with equal parts anxiety, because I was like, well, this isn’t a choice anymore,” Brianna said. “I have to go to the doctor because this isn’t about me.”

Once she reached six weeks of pregnancy, she began experiencing severe nausea and vomiting. She hadn’t been to see an OBGYN yet, but she called the doctor’s office which led to a diagnosis of hyperemesis gravidarum. They sent over some prescriptions to help with the nausea, but none of them worked.

Brianna decided to accept that she would experience these symptoms during her pregnancy. However, by 12 weeks she was vomiting around 30 times a day and was extremely sick. She had to leave her job, and eventually couldn’t leave her bed. Her doctor prescribed her Phenergan and Zofran, which did help. However, during her first trimester, she lost 15 pounds due to her nausea.

By her first OBGYN appointment at 14 weeks, she received an ultrasound. The ultrasound technician informed her that everything looked good with the baby. However, she was still experiencing severe nausea and vomiting. Her doctor told her that with most mothers, these symptoms resolve around 16 weeks of pregnancy. However, this was not the case for her. She continued to experience severe nausea and even vomited from just looking at pictures of food. Because she was too scared to go to the hospital, she never received fluids during this time. “In other words, don’t be like me,” Brianna warned. “Take care of yourself.”

By the time she was ready to give birth to her baby, Brianna had lost 35-40 pounds and did not have a visible baby bump.

Throughout this process, Brianna was always experiencing significant anxiety related to her symptoms and pregnancy. At first, she did not seek medical treatment for this anxiety due to her fear of the doctor’s office. However, her OB eventually stepped in and recommended that she go on anxiety medication.

“I was too scared to like get treatment, but thankfully I did have an angel of an OB and she did end up putting me on medication,” said Brianna. “I think that’s the only way that I made it through the rest of the pregnancy.”

C-Section Labor & Postpartum Preeclampsia

At Brianna’s first prenatal appointment, her doctor noted that her blood pressure was a bit high. However, she chalked it up to her anxiety regarding being at the doctor. However, at her 30-week appointment, her blood pressure was high again. Because of this, her provider recommended undergoing a 24-hour urine test. While Brianna agreed to this test, her anxiety ultimately prevented her from finishing the test.

“Medical tests are terrifying to me,” she explained. “I mostly just don’t want to know the results because I just assume something is terribly wrong.”

Her doctor ended up referring her to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist. When she visited this doctor her blood pressure was very high, and the doctor was concerned. This time the doctor said she should complete the 24-hour urine test and a blood panel.  The results came back that she did not have preeclampsia and that they would just monitor her blood pressure.

At 36 weeks, Brianna’s water broke after which she went into the hospital. Her doctor put her on Pitocin because she wasn’t dilated. The contractions then began. During this time, her blood pressure began to rise because she was experiencing anxiety. Because of this, the team thought it best to give her an epidural.

Some time later the doctor informed Brianna that she was not progressing in her delivery and that they should consider a C-section. Brianna was extremely distressed at hearing this news, due to her fear of surgery. However, after some time and encouragement, she realized that it was the best course of action. Brianna underwent a C-section and gave birth to a healthy baby boy she named Oliver.

Two days after giving birth, while she was still in the hospital recovering from her C-section, her blood pressure began to rise. Her doctor put her on a blood pressure medication to lower her blood pressure. However, her blood pressure continued to rise so she needed to go on a magnesium drip. Magnesium sulfate is a mineral that reduces seizure risks in women with preeclampsia.

Thankfully, her blood pressure did go down and she could return home. The next day she saw her doctor who explained that the reason she had to be on a magnesium drip at the hospital was because she had postpartum preeclampsia.

For a continuation of this story, read the blog post related to part 2 of this podcast episode.

Schedule an Appointment

If you are experiencing nausea, vomiting, or hyperemesis, it is crucial to consult with an obstetrician to discuss your treatment options. Schedule an appointment today at MFM Associates in New York City by filling out our online contact form on our website, and we will find the best treatment for your needs.

Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!

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