Hyperemesis Gravidarum- When It's NOT Just Morning Sickness
Hey guys! So who loves nausea? Not me- not me at all. As a matter of fact, I will do just about anything to avoid throwing up. God help me when we finally get pregnant. I’m sure it will be interesting around my house. (HELLO PHENERGAN!)
But for some women, nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are a serious fact of life. Sometimes it is only morning sickness- but sometimes it can be a more severe condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG for Short).
HG is typically characterized by extreme bouts of vomiting (3 or more times a day), nausea, weight loss, and dehydration during pregnancy. For many women, much of this resolves by around 21 weeks gestation. But for other women- these symptoms can go on for the entire pregnancy. Keep in mind- HG can cover a wide spectrum of women: you don't have to be throwing up to have HG. Many women experience extreme nausea that causes them not to eat or drink. On the other hand, some don't even have nausea they just throw up everything they eat!
The exact causes of Hyperemesis are unknown. However, risk factors include being a first time mother, a multiple pregnancy, obesity, prior or family history of HG, and a history of eating disorders. Thyroid issues and other medical conditions have also been linked to the condition. Complications of vomiting (malnutrition, dehydration, ulcers, esophageal bleeding etc.) may also contribute to and worsen nausea. It is so important to let your provider know if you are having more than just random bouts of nausea- seeking treatment early is CRITICAL.
Treatment for HG typically includes diet changes and anti-emetic medications. In general, it is believed that the benefit outweighs the risk during pregnancy for these medications, but it is important to discuss all possible risks of ANY medication with your medical provider.
It is important to note that in most cases, HG is very treatable and women can only benefit by seeing their provider about this issue early and take action as soon as possible to prevent complications. Let’s be real- nobody likes winding up in the ER due to throwing up too much just to be given fluids and some IV nausea drugs right? Much easier to get ahead of it!
There are many resources and support groups for women with HG. I promise you, you are not alone. One of my best friends suffered with ALL FOUR of her pregnancies. It is FAR more common than people think! Seek support, reduce stress, talk to your provider- especially if you aren’t finding any relief! If you have a doula, let her know you are struggling with this. She may be able to give some suggestions on how to cope including local resources.
For more information about Hyperemesis and to find resources and support for you or someone you care about, visit the following links: