Hyperemesis gravidarum

Hyperemesis gravidarum

Morning sickness is hard to escape in the initial weeks of pregnancy. While for some the nausea and vomiting could last for a few weeks, for some it could be more severe, leading to a pregnancy condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG).

What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)?

Known to affect 1 in 100 expectant mothers, Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is an extreme form of morning sickness, characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and dehydration. Pregnant women with this condition find it extremely hard to keep food down.

HG typically starts between weeks four and seven, and wanes off by week 15. Though in some cases, it could continue till the end of the pregnancy.

Even though HG takes a toll on expectant mothers, it does not affect the baby.

What causes HG?

While the reasons for HG remain unclear, it is often attributed to hormonal changes during pregnancy, genetic factors (if someone in the family has had HG, the chances of the expectant mother to have HG are more). Some believe HG is more likely to happen in the first pregnancy.

What are its symptoms?
  • Severe nausea and vomiting several times a day
  • Difficulty in keeping food (and water) down
  • Weight loss, which is more than 5% of the pre-pregnancy weight
  • Dehydration and fatigue
  • Aversion to certain sights and smells
How to deal with HG?

It is common for expectant mothers with HG to feel like nobody understands their condition, as often symptoms of HG are mistaken for those of morning sickness. Sometimes it may take several rounds of vomiting for someone to sit up and take notice of the condition.

Speak to your doctor about how you feel.

Having a support system helps tremendously during this time. Speak to your spouse or someone in the family about your condition. Even though you may want to withdraw, talking about how you feel will help you, and help others understand you better. Seek their help in household chores, cooking, shopping, etc. The more rest you get, the better you will feel.

Depression, exhaustion, and even the inability to carry out simple everyday activities – like taking a shower or going to work – are the most common complaints of expectant mothers with HG. Be rest assured this too shall pass.

Some tips that may help relieve nausea and morning sickness:

  • Eat a few crackers and rest for 15 minutes before getting up.
  • Get up slowly and do not lie down right after eating.
  • Eat small meals or snacks often, maybe every two hours, so your stomach is not empty. Try not to skip meals.
  • Eat what you feel like and when you are hungry, though you may want to avoid cooking or eating spicy, fatty or fried foods because of the nauseous smell.
  • Eat cold food instead of hot, as it may not smell as strongly.
  • You can get help with cooking if the nausea bothers you too much when cooking. Sniffing lemons or ginger can sometimes.
  • Eating salty potato chips can help settle the stomach enough to eat a meal.
  • Sip small amounts of fluid often during the day to prevent dehydration.
  • Avoid drinking fluids during, just before or immediately after a meal.
Food ideas to help relieve nausea
  • Salty: Chips, pretzels
  • Tart/sweet: Pickles, lemonade
  • Earthy: Brown rice, mushroom soup, peanut butter
  • Crunchy: Celery sticks, apple slices, nuts
  • Bland: Mashed potatoes, gelatin, broth
  • Soft: Bread, noodles
  • Sweet: Cake, sugary cereals
  • Fruity: Watermelon, fruity popsicles
  • Liquid: Juice, seltzer, sparkling water, ginger ale
  • Dry: Crackers

As you feel better, you will also eat better and your baby will receive the nutrition it requires to grow. If you have any cravings, indulge in them!

HG may dampen the excitement in the beginning but the sliver lining is that the condition does not last too long. Once it wanes off, you will enjoy your pregnancy and feel truly beautiful and blessed.