Severe morning sickness & what to do if you’re suffering.
Posted by: Sue Atkins
With the wonderful news that the Duchess Of Cambridge is expecting her 3rd child. Here is some information from the NHS Choices website & from the BabyCenter website about Hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness.)
Sickness in pregnancy is common. Around 7 out of every 10 pregnant women experience nausea and/or vomiting, and this doesn’t just occur in the morning.
For most women, this improves or disappears completely by around week 14, although for some women it can last longer.
Some pregnant women experience excessive nausea and vomiting. They might be sick many times a day and be unable to keep food or drink down, which can have a negative effect on their daily life.
This excessive nausea and vomiting is known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), and often needs hospital treatment.
Exactly how many pregnant women get HG is not known as some cases may go unreported, but it’s thought to be around 1 in every 100.
If you are being sick frequently and can’t keep food down, tell your midwife or doctor, or contact the hospital as soon as possible. There is a risk you may become dehydrated, and your midwife or doctor can make sure you get the right treatment.
What is hyperemesis gravidarum?
Hyperemesis gravidarum is severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy that affects up to 3 percent of expectant mums. Pregnant women with hyperemesis gravidarum throw up so often that they can’t keep enough food and fluid down, leading to dehydration, weight loss, and other possible complications. It’s an extreme form of morning sickness.
If you have hyperemesis gravidarum, you might worry about how it could affect your baby. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, hyperemesis gravidarum isn’t usually a cause for concern because most women with the condition have a perfectly healthy baby.
Although your baby probably won’t be affected by hyperemesis gravidarum, the condition is physically and emotionally draining for you. (It can even lead to depression in some women.) So the sooner you’re diagnosed, the quicker you can begin treatment and start to feel better.
What are the symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum?
- Nausea that won’t go away
- Vomiting multiple times every day
- Reduced appetite
- Weight loss
- Dehydration (signs include feeling thirsty, urinating less, dark urine, dry mouth or cracked lips, feeling tired or confused, or feeling dizzy or light-headed)
How can I tell if my nausea is normal morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum?
The difference between normal morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum depends on how dehydrated you are and whether you’re gaining a healthy amount of pregnancy weight. In general:
- If you have morning sickness, you won’t get dehydrated and you’ll gain weight despite vomiting.
- If you have hyperemesis gravidarum, vomiting will lead to dehydration and you’ll lose at least 5 percent of your pre-pregnancy weight.
Only a doctor can make a diagnosis, so let yours know if you’re vomiting constantly and show signs of dehydration or lost weight. They will first do an exam to rule out other conditions.
They will also test your blood to look for electrolyte imbalances, and check your urine to see if you’re not absorbing enough nutrients or are dehydrated. You may have an ultrasound to check on your baby.
How is hyperemesis gravidarum treated?
You’ll probably be given intravenous fluids right away because you’ll most likely be seriously dehydrated. Depending on your condition, you may need to be hospitalised for a few days so you can continue getting fluids, vitamins, and medication intravenously.
Many women feel much better after they’re rehydrated and are able to control their symptoms with antinausea medication. As soon as your condition stabilises, you should be able to go home and take oral medication.
Your doctor may also recommend a diet designed to reduce nausea and vomiting. Both dietary changes and medications may be necessary because many women who suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum continue to have some morning sickness well into their pregnancy, even if it’s not as severe as before.
In rare cases, you’ll need to continue receiving intravenous therapy on and off, either in the hospital or at home.
When should I contact my doctor or midwife about hyperemesis gravidarum?
Call your doctor if:
- You haven’t been able to keep anything (including fluids) down for 12 hours.
- Your urine is dark and strong-smelling.
- You haven’t been able to pee much in the past 4 to 6 hours.
- You feel weak or faint.
- You’re vomiting blood.
- You have a fever.
- You have abdominal pain.
Will hyperemesis gravidarum harm my baby?
HG is unpleasant with dramatic symptoms, but the good news is it’s unlikely to harm your baby, if treated effectively.
However, if it causes you to lose weight during pregnancy, there is an increased risk that your baby may be born smaller than expected (have a low birth weight).
Other symptoms you may experience
Pregnancy Sickness Support is in touch with many women who have had HG, and who report having some or all of the following symptoms in addition to the main symptoms listed above:
- extremely heightened sense of smell
- excessive saliva production (ptyalism)
- headaches and constipation from dehydration
- pressure sores from long periods of time in bed
- episodes of urinary incontinence as a result of vomiting combined with the pregnancy hormone relaxin
If you experience these symptoms, you are not alone. Many women have them and, although they can be distressing, they will go away when the HG stops or the baby is born.
Where can I get more information and support for hyperemesis gravidarum?
Ask your doctor if there are any local support groups for women with hyperemesis gravidarum, or look for online support forums on social media.
You can also visit the Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation website for more information. You’ll find research updates, self-care advice for women with hyperemesis gravidarum, and an online forum.
For another place to connect with mums-to-be who have hyperemesis gravidarum, is by visiting the charity Pregnancy Sickness Support which has information and tips on coping with nausea and vomiting, including HG.
It’s important to educate yourself and find the emotional support you need to cope.