[Psychological approach to hyperemis gravidarum]

L Karpel, C de Gmeline
Journal de Gynécologie, Obstétrique et Biologie de la Reproduction 2004, 33 (7): 623-31

INTRODUCTION: Hyperemesis gravidarum is a phenomenon that concerns only 1 or 2% of pregnant women who require hospitalization if their anorectic behavior does not cease. The treatment consists in complete isolation, anti-vomit drugs and rehydration therapy.

OBJECTS: Isolation has been practiced existed since 1914, and is based on the belief that these women were simulating pain in order to obtain abortion. By isolating them from their family environment, the medical staff hopes this secret desire will be revealed. We tried to evaluate the reality of this analysis.

MATERIAL AND METHOD: Two psychological interviews were conducted by a questionnaire addressed to 23 pregnant women at the time of their hospitalization for hyperemesis gravidarum in a level 3 gynecology-obstetric unit. All patients were submitted to the described treatment.

RESULTS: Four groups were found. In the first group (n=6) women were submerged by a present and conscious conflict concerning their pregnancy, which found and easy solution. In the second group (n=7), the women had lost a pregnancy a short time before the present one. These patients were suffering from this loss and could not easily accept their new baby. The third group (n=6) concerned women who were afraid of a living a dramatic event that their mother had experienced in the past. This worry, held far from their consciousness, could be recalled during the interviews. In the last group (n=4), the women had passed through major difficulties in their relationship with their mothers during childhood. Becoming a mother themselves, they feared they would reproduce the same attitudes toward their own babies. Within this group, only one woman finally asked for an abortion that was performed.

CONCLUSION: It would not appear that the patients have to be isolated for them to reveal their desire for abortion. Conversely, a psychological interview allows better understanding of the ambivalent attitudes of pregnant women and thus can be useful in avoiding systematic abortion.

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