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.
Unfortunately her symptoms grew so severe, it became apparent that she was suffering from something from an extreme form of morning sickness, called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) – which is both 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.
So I’ve put together this post to highlight the condition of hyperemesis gravidarum.
It included signposts to organisations who can help you get immediate diagnosis and help and some things you can do alongside medical help to ease your symptoms.
Even if this post doesn’t seem relevant to you, please do share it to increase awareness and improve medical support for women suffering hyperemesis gravidarum during their pregnancy.
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.
What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
The key symptoms of are:
- Near constant acute nausea
- Inability to eat or drink without severe vomitng
- Vomiting triggered by movement and smells
- Severe dehydration
- Rapid weight loss
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.
Medical treatment for Hyperemesis Gravidarum
There are some medical treatments, (particularly Ondansetron / Zofran), that can help, but you need to be very well armed with as much information as possible, to navigate your 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.
Coping with Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Medical treatment does seem to be critical so keep pushing your doctor or medical point of contact if you’re not getting it.
In addition some of the following may provide some small additional relief:
- Sleep and 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
If you are looking for more support you might also be interested in the following bloggers who have suffered with the condition:
If you are suffering with hyperemesis gravidarum I wish you well and hope you find the support you need to get you through your pregnancy.
If you have symptoms of more regular morning sickness, we have a post on natural remedies for morning sickness, where you will hopefully find a few things that will help quell your symptoms.
Read more: Check out our Pregnancy focused posts for a bunch of useful information and tips on all aspects of being pregnant
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