Friday, 9 November 2012

Suffering with severe morning sickness ...

Copyright Mahalie Stackpole 2004 Creative Commons

I have posted previously on tips for morning sickness and so when a newly pregnant friend started to suffer from it I confidently handed over my list of suggestions.  I can't believe my naivety.  I had absolutely no comprehension of what she was going through because this wasn't the common or garden morning sickness that many of us suffered from but extreme morning sickness - hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) - which is dangerous and totally debilitating.

I have been really horrified by how much my friend has suffered and how she has struggled to find help for what she is going through.  This post is just trying to highlight the condition, spread the word and provide signposts to organisations who can help so that any new mum-to-be experiencing the same can get immediate diagnosis and help.  Even if the post doesn't seem relevant to you please do share to increase awareness and improve medical support.

The first thing to say is that HG can be life threatening if untreated; it's what Charlotte Bronte died of when she was 4 months pregnant.  The key symptoms are:
  • Near constant acute nausea
  • Inability to eat or drink without severe vomitng
  • Vomiting triggered by movement and smells
  • Severe dehydration
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Fainting
The dehydration is typically so acute that mums-to-be with HG will need frequent admission to hospital for intravenous rehydration and will be unable to work or to look after themselves or their family.  Unlike typical morning sickness, HG usually lasts way into the 2nd trimester and often into the 3rd.  Severe depression and anxiety triggered by complete exhaustion is very common and tragically many mums-to-be contemplate ending their pregnancy and some feel that they have no option but to do so.

There are some medical treatments, (particularly Ondansetron / Zofran), that can help but mums or rather their families need to be very well armed with as much information as possible to navigate their way through midwives and doctors who don't understand the condition and who may be reticent to prescribe or keep prescribing because the drugs are very expensive.

From what I have seen, it's really critical to get immediate support for mums-to-be and their families as soon as the symptoms appear.  Pregnancy Sickness Support is a campaigning and support group in the UK who can provide help and have an active group on Facebook in which mothers can share their experiences.  Babycentre also has an active group and the US support group HER Foundation has some excellent resources including the Help HER Survival Guide.

Coping with Hyperemesis Gravidarum 

Medical treatment does seem to be critical so keep pushing if you're not getting it.  In addition some of the following may provide some small additional relief:
  • Sleep & rest with head propped up but not bolt upright 
  • Eat very non-acidic food e.g. yoghurt, lentils, potatoes, banana
  • Eat cold food - smell of food cooking triggers nausea
  • Suck ice cubes - of water or juice if can't face drinking liquids
  • Drink through straw - if drinking makes you nauseous
  • Keep any food you can eat to hand - so can eat immediately in small windows of hunger
  • Don't eat & drink at the same time
  • Carry emergency sick kit - nappy bags, wipes etc
  • Suck small sweets
  • Avoid any strong smells - e.g. perfume, cleaning materials
  • Sleep on your own - your partner's natural odour may trigger an attack
  • Get someone else to do laundry / cleaning - fragrances often trigger attack
My fellow blogger Contented Little Mummy  has written a guest post on her personal experience of HG and you might also be interested in the following bloggers who have suffered with the condition:

Here Come the Girls
The Family Patch
Diary of a first child
HG Survivor
The Mum Blog
And if you're looking for more pregnancy and new baby tips from other bloggers do check out this Pinterest board ...

If you found this post helpful you might also enjoy ...

New baby shopping list Hospital bag check-list Choosing a stroller The Friday Baby Shower blog hop

If you're looking for more posts from other mummy bloggers do check out the links below and if you've got your own posts on pregnancy health, do link them up ...

Pregnancy Health


  1. Glad to see this post. I too had this and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. It is truly awful, I can't even put it in to words.
    I agree with what you said that awareness needs raising. People and doctors thought I was over exaggerating until they saw me for five minutes and I'd vomit every other minute I was there!
    I hope your friends condition improves. There's not much I can suggest as nothing worked with me. Just wait it out. It seems like there is no end and no point to life but your baby will make it better.
    Dayle @

    1. Can I ask if you got any medication and if you did whether it worked?

  2. I was given all sorts of medication but no nothing helped in the slightest.

  3. wow that awful and i will stop moaning now as i am only suffering from constant nausea, and your tip to eat cold dairy is bang on

  4. Oh I had a pretty good case of morning sickness but nothing too extreme. Thanks for being such a wonderful resource to expectant mothers.

    I made it my silly little goal to stop by to follow and say "hey" to every mom on the Bloggy Mom December link up. It's a bit insane but I'm glad to have discovered many a sweet blog. We are such an amazing resource, we moms.

    If you'd like we're gathering for An Aloha Affair , a sweet sharing of joy and a meaningful sort of growing together. Come grow with us.

    Happy New Year to You and Yours.

    1. Hi Nicole - so glad you popped over to say "hey". Great to discover An Aloha Affair and loving your boards on pinterest x

  5. I had HG three times (each time it got worse - something the health professionals hadn't warned me about!). I wasn't keen to take any medicines (aware of previous issues with anti-emetics in the 1960s) so was wired up to a drip, sometimes for up to a week at a time. I'd never been a remotely 'sicky' person before, and it was such a bolt from the blue - the worse thing was well-meaning friends telling me it was "all in the mind". That was incredibly upsetting when I was fighting with every ounce of determination - pretending to myself that I didn't feel sick, until I was so weak from throwing up (sometimes 100 times a week) that I couldn't stay upright. Any poor mum-to-be who suffers from this horrible condition needs loads of support and to be told that they are not "imagining" it.

    1. A big thanks for sharing your experience - it is such a terrible condition made so much worse by general public's ignorance and belief that it's "just morning sickness".

  6. I've had terrible morning sickness for all 9 months with each of my pregnancies, and it's completely miserable. I'm so glad my doctor was happy to prescribe meds, but they really didn't help. I've blogged about it as well. Thanks for sharing this instead of the typical "eat saltines" sort of post. :)


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