One of the most well-known and common symptoms of pregnancy is morning sickness. The majority of pregnant women experience at least some level of sickness during their pregnancy, especially in their first trimester. Something that many people don’t realize though, is that some women experience a very severe form of morning sickness that is known as hyperemesis gravidarum.
What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
Hyperemesis is very severe nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. It’s like morning sickness, only much worse. Hyperemesis gravidarum can be completely debilitating to a woman during her pregnancy and some women even describe it as torturous. It can make a pregnancy impossible to enjoy, and is often not taken seriously by those that don’t understand it, which only makes it worse for those suffering with it. If it goes untreated, it can be dangerous or even fatal, but luckily, with treatment complications are rare.
Symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Hyperemesis gravidarum symptoms are very similar to symptoms associated with typical morning sickness in pregnancy but are much more severe. Usually, for a woman to receive a diagnosis of hyperemesis gravidarum, she must have severe enough sickness to require hospitalization.
1. Severe and Prolonged Nausea and Vomiting
The most obvious symptom of hyperemesis gravidarum is severe nausea and vomiting over a long period of time. Typically, the nausea and vomiting is very consistent for weeks on end with little to no relief from the typical remedies used for morning sickness.
2. Inability to Keep Food and Drink Down
Going along with the severe nausea and vomiting is the inability to keep any food or drink down when experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum. Many women are repulsed by certain foods and smells and even if they can make themselves try to eat something, they will likely immediately start vomiting again.
3. Drop in Blood Pressure When Standing
Some women that are experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum may experience episodes of hypotension, or low blood pressure, particularly when they stand up. This can cause faintness, and dizziness.
4. Weight Loss Rather Than Weight Gain During Pregnancy
Everyone knows that most women gain weight during pregnancy. A healthy amount of weight gain throughout pregnancy is a sign of a healthy pregnancy. Since hyperemesis gravidarum can cause such severe nausea and vomiting and often doesn’t allow a pregnant woman to keep food down, it can lead to the pregnant woman losing weight during her pregnancy rather than gaining it as she should.
A major problem in a pregnant woman that can easily be a result of hyperemesis gravidarum is dehydration. Since a woman experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum is consistently so sick, she is typically unable to hold down anything including liquids. This can lead to severe dehydration which often leads to hospitalization of the pregnant woman experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum.Dehydration is dangerous, especially in pregnant woman and should never be ignored. Signs to look out for that may indicate that you are dehydrated include:
· Being very thirsty
· Urinating less often
· Being very tired
· Dizziness and/or confusion
· Urine being darker in colour than usual
Treatment of Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum is important to preserve the health of the pregnant woman as well as the health of her growing bub. Usually, a woman that is experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum will require hospitalization because her sickness is so severe. Treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum usually consists of several things.
1. Intravenous Fluids for Rehydration
One of the biggest problems caused by hyperemesis gravidarum for a pregnant woman is severe dehydration. To combat this problem, doctors will most likely administer fluids through an IV given to the affected pregnant woman.
2. Vitamins and Minerals for Nutrition
In addition to being dehydrated, you likely aren’t getting all the needed nutrition to remain healthy throughout your pregnancy if you are suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum. For this reason, your IV will likely also contain vitamins and minerals.
3. Anti-Sickness Drugs
You may also receive anti-sickness drugs through your IV to help combat your nausea and vomiting and possibly allow you to eat and drink. Some women worry about how the anti-sickness drugs may affect their baby. However, they are widely considered to be safe and your doctor will take you being pregnant into consideration when choosing your medications.
Risk Factors of Hyperemesis Gravidarum
It is possible for hyperemesis gravidarum to happen to any pregnant woman, and the exact cause isn’t known yet. It is believed that it likely has to do with hormonal changes. Even though any pregnant woman may experience hyperemesis gravidarum, there do seem to be some things that increase risk such as:
· Being prone to travel sickness
· Being prone to headaches
· Being pregnant with a girl baby
· Expecting multiple babies
· Being overweight at the start of your pregnancy
· Having a close relative such as a mother or sister that suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum
· Having had hyperemesis gravidarum in a past pregnancy
How Long Will I Be Sick if I Have Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
Sickness from hyperemesis gravidarum most commonly starts around the same time other pregnancy sickness would start anywhere from 4 to 7 weeks into your pregnancy. How long it lasts will vary from woman to woman, but most women that suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum find that it hits its peak close to 12 weeks and then starts to let up and usually resolves by about 20 weeks, or the halfway mark in pregnancy. Unfortunately, however, some women that suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum end up staying sick right up until delivery.
Will Hyperemesis Gravidarum Cause Harm to My Baby?
Many times, a woman suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum may worry about how it could affect her unborn baby. As miserable as hyperemesis gravidarum may cause you to be, it generally poses no threat to your little one.As long as you seek treatment when appropriate, then your bub should suffer little to no consequences from your hyperemesis gravidarum. If you struggle with weight loss throughout your pregnancy, there is a chance that your baby may be born with a low birth-weight.
Tips for Dealing with Hyperemesis Gravidarum
There is no questioning how difficult it is to deal with hyperemesis gravidarum, but fortunately, there are a few things you can do that may ease your struggles at least a little bit.
#1 Get Treatment Early
One of the best things you can do if you start experiencing severe sickness in pregnancy is seek help as soon as possible. Your pregnancy health care provider can likely give you something to help ease your nausea and vomiting and if you start treatment early enough, it may prevent the sickness from becoming worse as your pregnancy progresses.
#2 Stay Hydrated
One of the problems associated with hyperemesis gravidarum is dehydration so doing your best to stay hydrated can make a big difference for you. If you aren’t able to drink like you normally would, try taking small sips of water or maybe try sucking on ice cubes. Any water that you can get is much better than none.
#3 Eat Anything You Can
When you are suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, it can be hard to even think about eating a healthy and well-balanced pregnancy diet. Obviously, it’s important to eat well, but when you’re suffering from severe sickness, your priority is just to eat. Don’t stress too much about eating right, just eat whatever you feel like you can handle. Eating anything is better than nothing, and you can make up for good nutrition later in your pregnancy when you’re feeling better. Plus, your baby will get nutrition from your body’s reserves while you’re sick.
#4 Inform Others
One thing that may make hyperemesis gravidarum harder is having people around you that don’t understand. Some people may think you’re just dealing with regular morning sickness. Try printing out information about hyperemesis gravidarum for these people or even have them talk to your doctor. It’s important to be surrounded by understanding support during this difficult time in your pregnancy.
Don’t Feel Bad
Sometimes, a woman suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum may struggle with feelings of guilt. It’s easy to feel that way when you aren’t able to enjoy your pregnancy and even simple tasks such as laundry or grocery shopping feel like an impossible chore. It’s important to understand that if you are suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum that it is not your fault and you’ve done nothing wrong. You are sick, and you need to just focus on getting through it and feeling better. Try to just remember that it is only temporary.