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What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum? Is it just morning sickness? A rare condition that only 2% of pregnant woman get

Updated on January 26, 2014

Hyperemesis Gravidarum is rare however ...

The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, has suffered from this rare condition, which has helped bring it to peoples attention around the world. Most woman suffer from morning sickness in their first trimester however, Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a form of acute morning sickness where a woman will suffer from serious vomiting.

My sister has been hospitalised a couple of times now. Not for being sick, but for the fact that she becomes so dehydrated from the fact that she can not keep anything down it becomes dangerous to the health of herself and the baby. Although she doesn't mind all the comparisons she is getting about her and Kate, with the comments that she needs to be treated like a princess, unlike the Duchess, she has been unable to work due to spells of dizziness and feeling weak due to her not being able to eat anything. The reassurance that it usually only lasts for the first trimester isn't helping at the moment.

What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

Hyperemesis Gravidarum literally means excessive vomiting in pregnancy. Around 2% of woman suffer from this condition although it is a miserable time and a real worry for everyone concerned, it is not life threatening if you keep it under control.

You will struggle to keep anything down, even your own saliva. Vomiting to the point can lead to extreme dehydration, which is in itself dangerous. Continual vomiting can tear the esophagus and it can also cause dizzy spells and if left untreated cause heart damage. It can also result in premature birth and baby having a low birth weight.

It is important that if you believe to suffer from this then you seek medical assistance. Your midwife should be notified so she can take measures to make sure the pregnancy is as smooth as it can be under the circumstances.

It usually begins around four to seven weeks into the pregnancy but should ease off around the fourteen to sixteen week mark.

Saying that, 10% of those who suffer do suffer the symptoms during the whole term of the pregnancy.

Dehydration and malnutrition is the real danger here.

If suffering from either you need to seek urgent medical treatment. People die from such things. They cause your kidneys and liver to be put under dangerous strain. However, it is treatable so if in any doubt you should get it checked out.

Did you know about Hyperemesis Gravidarum before Kate Middleton went into hospital with it?

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Are you thinking you have Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

Self help remedies or treatments will be of no use to you if you have Hyperemesis Gravidarum. You will struggle with everyday life, and find it nearly impossible to keep anything down. Some doctors though will wait until you have lost alot of weight or even become dehydrated before prescribing help because it is so rare.

You may not be suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, especially if it starts after the eight week mark. Other reasons for severe sickness during pregnancy could be:

  • Stomach ulcer
  • Gastric upset
  • Urinary infection
  • Thyroid disease
  • Diabetes.

Will it harm my baby?

It is very natural to worry about baby, especially when we all know that drugs should be used with great care, particualy in the first trimester. Saying that, anti-sickness drugs have a good safety record and it has never been recorded of harming an unborn baby.

The concerns for baby are if the mother becomes dehydrated or malnurished. If treated early then baby is very unlikely to be harmed. Saying that, there is a risk that baby can be born with a smaller than average birth weight.

Am I at risk?

Morning sickness is thought to be caused by a few factors like hormonal changes. It is unknown what causes hyperemesis gravidarum but it is though that these factors do increase your chances of developing the symptoms:

  • You have suddered in previous pregnancies.
  • You have liver disease
  • It is common within your family.
  • You are expecting twins.
  • You suffer from travel sickness or migraines.

Can I help myself?

Life is not easy when you suffer like this so what can you do to help yourself?

  • Talking early to your midwife or doctor about how bad things are will mean earlier treatment.
  • Family and friends will be vital in helping you cope with normal every day things. Accept their help and even ask for it when things become too hard.
  • Avoid any smells that could trigger nausea. Any sights that could bring this on too.
  • Try eating cold foods, they are easier to keep down.
  • Take small sips of fluids to keep yourself hydrated. Small sips are easier to keep down but it is vital that you get some fluids in your system.
  • Eat anything you can keep down. Don't worry about a good diet - your baby will get everything it needs from your body's reserves so will be perfectly healthy.
  • Rest as much as you can. Tiredness makes nausea worse.
  • Do not feel guilty. It is not your fault and as long as you look after yourself baby will be fine.

When should you see the midwife?

If you can't keep anything down, then as soon as possible to prevent dehydration.

Signs that you are dehydrated include:

  • Dark coloured urine.
  • Very little urine or not going to the toilet for hours and hours.
  • Headaches.

Other symptoms that are linked to this condition, but shouldn't be ignored anyway when pregnant are:

  • Stomach pain.
  • Fever.
  • Bleeding.
  • Severe headache.
  • Dissiness or feeling faint.
  • Blood in your vomit.


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