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News Archive > General > Covering 40k in 40 days for local pregnancy cause

Covering 40k in 40 days for local pregnancy cause

By Jacob Double 28th October 2020

Covering 40k in 40 days for local pregnancy cause
Chairperson Caitlin Dean, right, and Leonie Searle will run 40km in 40 days for their charity Pregnancy Sickness Support

Twenty-eight people from across the county are running 40 kilometres in 40 days to raise money for a Bodmin charity which supports those who suffer from a severe condition during pregnancy. Hyperemesis Gravidarum causes relentless nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and in some cases extreme dehydration - and it can affect up to three per cent of women during their pregnancy.

It is sometimes likened to morning sickness but the physical effects are considered much more severe. The condition was brought firmly into the public gaze by the Duchess of Cambridge, who was said to have suffered with it throughout her three pregnancies.

Pregnancy Sickness Support is a small Bodmin-based charity that operates nationwide, supporting hundreds of women suffering from the debilitating condition with their telephone hotline and expert information.

Based from their office at Normandy Way, the team of four go out of their way every single day to help women who are often at their most desperate. They offer a friendly, understanding ear that comes with decades of experience and talk through the - often unknown - options available to the women in need of their support.

But relying on individual donations to makes ends meet means fundraising is hugely important.

To help raise the required £27,000-a-year operating costs and allow their work to continue, 28 runners from across the country have stepped up to do 40 kilometres in 40 days - one for every week of a pregnancy.

Chairperson of the charity, Caitlin Dean, is one of those taking on the challenge. Speaking to the Voice on day 15 of 40, she said: “It doesn’t sound that bad when you break it down into one kilometre a day, but it is the every-single-day-ness of it that is really challenging.

“I have done two full weeks now, but I am not a runner. I haven’t run since I was in school!”

Asked if she was enjoying the experience, Caitlin rather honestly responded: “No, I am not! Not at the moment. But I am hoping by the end I will.”

And there is a good reason why. On the second weekend of the challenge Caitlin ended up at Treliske Hospital with chest pains where she discovered she has a condition which means her red blood cells don’t transport oxygen around her body properly when exercising.

“But I didn’t miss a day! Even the day I was in Treliske I still went for a run that evening,” she said proudly. “So I am finding it really hard, but I am hoping that is going to improve.”

Caitlin added: “I am so busy as well, so fitting in a run every day is really hard. To fit it in on Tuesday I got it over and done with at 6.30 am - which is not like me at all! I never get up earlier than I need to, ever.”

There is a reason Caitlin is so dedicated to raising cash for the charity - and puts it at the centre of everything she does. The mother-of-three suffered with Hyperemesis Gravidarum during each of her pregnancies and said that, as well as being violently ill, it “decimated” her career.

She explained: “Not only was I on maternity leave, but I was off sick for the whole pregnancy. Which, at time when you are trying to build your career, is quite destructive.”

Although Caitlin started working with Pregnancy Sickness Support in 2011 the charity was originally established in 2002.

During her first two pregnancies she still suffered from Hyperemesis but didn’t have the support of the organisation until the third. At the time, Pregnancy Sickness Support was a small group of people based in the Midlands, including two GPs and one of their daughters who had suffered with the condition.

Caitlin explained: “Before my third pregnancy, [my husband] Rob said ‘alright, we will have another one but you need more support’.

“So I found the charity and went and met them at a conference they were putting on. I then came away from it deciding I wanted to get involve with them and help take it forward.”

She then spent the following weeks and months setting up the part of the charity that now gives guidance and support to hundreds of women a month through a network of 450 volunteers across the UK - all of which was coordinated from the Bodmin HQ.

Having brought the charity forwards leaps and bounds, Caitlin is now focussed on further researching Hyperemesis to become an industry expert.

She is currently taking a PhD specialising in the condition and is quickly becoming the UK’s, and possibly the world’s, leading specialist on the subject.

“There is no one else specialising solely on Hyperemesis, there are various doctors who we would considered to be specialists and there are reachers who look at it as part of a wider PhD.

“But I am pretty confident that I am the only registered nurse specialising entirely in Hyperemesis, not just in the UK but probably the world.”

Thanks to the donations they receive and the work they have achieved with them, the awareness for Hyperemesis Gravidarum is “unrecognisable” from where it was nine years ago. “But we do still have a long way to go”, Caitlin adds.

To help Pregnancy Sickness Support and donate to the 40k in 40 days challenge, visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/PSS40DayRunChallenge2020

By Jacob Double 28th October 2020

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