As women, we fulfil many roles and as we get older, our focus and priorities often change.
In my 20s I was very focussed on studying and then my career. My 30s were characterised by getting married, having my two children and striving to combine motherhood with a legal career.
We hear a lot about getting the right work-life balance, and I am extremely lucky to have achieved the right balance for me.
But as I approached my 40s, life seemed to be settling down a little from the chaotic early stages of parenthood and I felt I wanted to do something more than work and be a mum. I wanted to do something for a worthwhile cause and ‘give something back’, but I had no idea what.
A charity close to my heart…
It was then, as I surfed the internet one day, that I stumbled across a charity called Pregnancy Sickness Support. During both my pregnancies I had suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum (or HG for short), which is a complication of pregnancy involving extreme and constant nausea and vomiting.
It’s made national news recently as the Duchess of Cambridge is again suffering from HG, causing her to bow out of public duties.
While many women suffer from sickness during pregnancy, HG is extreme. It causes severe weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration, isolation and often depression. In fact, it’s so traumatic that many sufferers are left with lasting symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Having had first-hand experience of this physically and emotionally debilitating condition, I knew that this was the charity I wanted to get involved with.
Pregnancy Sickness Support is the only national charity in the UK supporting women with nausea and vomiting in pregnancy and HG.
It provides a telephone helpline, an online forum and a national peer support network giving crucial support to sufferers and their families. There is also a website with a wide range of information and the charity is working hard to improve medical care for sufferers.
It really is a lifeline for many women and their families.
I first became a volunteer supporting other sufferers and since then I have organised fundraising events, lectured student midwives, had various articles published, helped to set up a charity-wide initiative called the Big Brew (similar to the Macmillan Coffee Morning) and contributed to the guidance on the charity’s website.
I was recently asked to become a trustee and was delighted to accept. I’m now involved in the day-to-day running of the charity and the decision-making process. We’re currently in the process of applying for funding so that we can sustain and expand the vital services we provide and so it’s a very exciting time for the charity.
I’m able to contribute to a cause that I have experience of and feel passionately about.From a personal perspective, being involved with Pregnancy Sickness Support is incredibly rewarding. It means so much to me to know that I am helping sufferers to get the appropriate medical treatment as well as the practical and emotional support they need to get them through an extremely difficult time in their lives.
I’ve also gained a huge amount of personal satisfaction from the activities I’ve been involved in and have met an inspirational group of volunteers and trustees who are dedicated to furthering the important work of the charity.
My advice to anyone who is thinking of getting involved with a charity would be to go for it!
Charities are always looking for volunteers in a variety of capacities, whether as trustees or volunteers. If you can, find a charity you have a personal connection with and feel passionately about.
Organising a charity event or taking part in a fundraising event, such as a sponsored walk, run or swim, will also give you a great sense of personal achievement (as well as being a lot of fun!) and will be particularly satisfying if you are doing it for a charity or cause that means a lot to you.
There are so many fantastic charities out there, and they’ll be glad of any time or help you can give. So what’s stopping you?
Find out more about PSS…
Online forum: www.pregnancysicknesssupport.org.uk/online-support-forum
If you’d like to get involved as a volunteer, we’d love to have you with us. We’re always looking for volunteers to support women, fundraise and raise awareness, for example through leaflet distribution to GP surgeries, hospitals, midwife-led units and consultants. Please see the website for more information.