27/11/2013 12:54 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

How Sickly Pregnancies Threw Up Our Business Ideas

Anna Louise Simpson who founded MamateasAnna Louise Simpson who started Mamateas

There are those of us that bloom during pregnancy, floating around with an ethereal air of health and happiness. Our skin glows, our eyes sparkle, our bodies display our burgeoning bumps majestically. People tell us we have never looked so good and we've never felt better.

Then there are the rest of us, who suffer nine months of miserable gut-wrenching sickness, agony and..quite honestly...hell on earth. We've never felt so ill and we've never looked more like we need a long holiday at a health spa (or a complete body transplant).

We caught up with two women who endured such awful pregnancies they were determined to make a difference to other suffering mums-to-be...

I lost three and a half stone from pregnancy sickness

Denise Soden, 40, is married to Matt, 41 and they have three children – Ben, 13, Oliver, six, and Lilly, four. They live near Watford. Denise set up her company Lillipops, producing iced soothies to help ease morning sickness.

"From the sixth week of my first pregnancy, I would vomit every 15 minutes until I'd eventually pass out on the bathroom floor.

I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarium, a severe from of morning sickness. Any food – and even sips of water – would immediately be retched back up.


I was hospitalised 13 times, given medicine to stop the nausea and put on a drip to be rehydrated.


For a few days, I'd manage a few morsels of food, but no sooner was I discharged from hospital than the terrible cycle of vomiting would begin again.

By 21 weeks, I had dropped from 10 1/2 stone to 7 stone and I felt like I was dying. This wasn't being pregnant. This was being ill.

The sickness only stopped the moment Ben was born.

After such a traumatic pregnancy I found it hard to bond with my new baby. And I rejected my husband too. We separated 18 months later.

Luckily, we got back together and seven years later, decided that if we didn't want Ben to be an only child, we'd have to go through the hell all over again.

The sickness started right away. Again, I was admitted to hospital several times due to dehydration. But half way through Oliver's pregnancy, I discovered just one thing I could keep down. Crushed ice. If I sucked on it or crunched it slowly, it hydrated me enough to keep me out of hospital.

When I fell pregnant unexpectedly with Lilly two years later, I stocked up the freezer with ice and added grated ginger or mint to make into lollies as I craved some flavour. Again, the ice kept me out of hospital.


A year later, I wondered if other sickly mums had ever tried my remedy. I did some research on the internet and found hundreds of mums resorting to my very technique. Some were sucking on ice pops but worrying about the e-number additives.


I saw a real gap in the market – for a crushed ice product with added natural flavour and no artificial colours or sugars.

So, I contacted an ice pop manufacturer who made up natural flavours to my specification – ginger for nausea and soothing chamomile and orange to refresh a dry mouth and provide much needed energy, for example.

We launched five flavours in 2009 and the feedback has been amazing. Women have told me I 'cured' their sickness and others have said the product has helped them stay out of hospital. That feels great to know. I wouldn't want anyone to suffer through their pregnancies like I did."

You can buy lillipops from and

I'm proud something so good came out of my terrible pregnancy experience

Anna Louise Simpson, 37, from Edinburgh is mum to Arabella, four, and Alexander, two. She set up natural caffeine-free tea company Mama Tea.

"You name the pregnancy ailment, and I probably had it. I was plagued by everything from morning sickness to heartburn and indigestion.

Food wouldn't stay down and I'd try all sorts of fluids to keep hydrated and to soothe the burn. I knew too much caffeine wasn't a good idea when you're pregnant so bought a few herbal and fruit teas from health food shops but to me they all tasted 'healthy' – by which I mean 'foul'. I was also quite wary of trying too many different herbs, as I wasn't sure which were okay to have during pregnancy and which weren't.

By week 30 of my first pregnancy I was also suffering severe back, pelvic and hip pain and was diagnosed with symphysis pubis dysfunction or SPD (a misalignment in the pelvic joints)


Walking, lying down or even sitting was often complete agony. I couldn't wait for the baby to be born so I could get rid of the pain.


By 42 weeks, there was still no imminent arrival, though, and I was desperate. A friend told me that raspberry leaf tea can help bring on contractions so I hunted some out – and again, it tasted absolutely vile. That thing with the teas again!

After Arabella was born, I suffered postnatal depression. I think it was partly as a result of the really dreadful pregnancy.

Part of the recovery was to have a goal. And I couldn't stop thinking about this gaping hole in the market for safe, healthy teas for pregnant mums.

I did some research (my background as a corporate lawyer helped me on the business side of things) then found a herbalist to prepare a report on what herbs were safe during pregnancy. Then I found a master tea blender to make up my teas so they actually tasted good!

I came up with a range of five teas to help ease various aspects of discomfort in pregnancy. Morning Mama contains ginger and chamomile, which can help ease sickness, for example, and Cool Mama contains spearmint and chamomile to help indigestion. Of course I had to include a Raspberry Leaf Tea – Ready Mama - and I've also created New Mama tea, which contains fennel and lemon balm, which has been linked to helping ease depression.

We launched in 2009 and within a few weeks I was supplying Waitrose. Feedback from mums is great – they love the taste and the fact that they know the teas are safe during pregnancy (although Ready Mama tea is not recommended before week 38).

I'm really proud of the products and the fact that something so good came out of what was for me a dreadful experience!

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Did you start a business after your pregnancy? Are there any products that have really helped you in your pregnanacy? We'd love to hear from you.