There’s Nausea and Then There’s Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Bayo Ajibola

There’s Nausea and Then There’s Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Nausea and Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Among the first signs of pregnancy is nausea, probably even before you realize that you missed your period or it’s late. It is usually expected among many expectant women so when it comes they usually just take it in their stride and look for means to reduce its effect until it passes.

Now, for some women it never really passes. It might come on so strong that keeping anything down becomes a miracle in itself. About one in 100 women go through extreme nausea during their pregnancy. It can get really bad to the point where they get dehydrated and have to be hospitalized for some time during the pregnancy. This condition is known as hyperemesis gravidarum.

What is it?

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a condition where an expectant woman experiences an extreme bout of nausea and vomiting. This may cause weight loss and electrolyte disturbance. It usually occurs from the second to fourth weeks and eases off in the seventh to ninth weeks of pregnancy. It can go up to the twelfth week and for some it goes on all through their pregnancy. The cause remains largely unknown but it is said to be caused by an increase in hormone levels.

Symptoms include nausea, extreme vomiting that doesn’t allow you to keep any food down (sometimes even fluids), food aversions, a decreased amount of urine or dark urine, weight loss of 5% or more of pre-pregnancy weight, increased heart rate, fainting, headaches, dehydration, jaundice, confusion, depression, low blood pressure and loss of skin elasticity.

Am I at risk?

Studies have shown a pattern in those women who experience this condition. Those that are more likely to go through it may have one or more of the following:

  • Expecting multiple babies (twins, triplets)
  • Pregnant with their first baby
  • Experience migraines or travel sickness
  • A history of hyperemesis gravidarum in their immediate family
  • Expecting a girl
  • Went through HG during a previous pregnancy
  • Got pregnant when overweight

How do I handle it?

  • Once you realize that your nausea is something out of the ordinary you will need to see your healthcare practitioner. This will enable them to help you mitigate the effects of HG before it gets too far. They may not be able to stop it since there is no cure but they will help you get through it while ensuring you and your baby remain stable throughout.
  • Staying hydrated and well-fed may prove difficult if you can’t keep anything down but it is necessary. A hospital will ensure that you get the necessary fluids, nutrients and minerals using IV (Intravenous) drips. You can also try and take small sips of fluids or sucking on ice cubes.
  • Do not try to self-medicate because you may end up causing harm to your baby.
  • Eating may also be problematic but small bites of whatever you can keep down will work well. You do not need to worry about proper nutrition at this point. You’ll catch up as time goes by and your baby will use whatever reserves you have.
  • Give yourself a good amount of rest because fatigue can exacerbate nausea.
  • Talk about it if you can. It will help you get through it since talking is therapeutic.
  • Remember that it is not your fault. It is not something within your control so just take it one step at a time.

Not everyone will understand why you are making such a fuss about nausea during pregnancy since it is deemed as something common and bearable. You may not find the empathy you need in some people but when they understand the effect of HG on a pregnant woman they will come round. Keep all worries aside and focus on your wellbeing and everything else will work itself out.


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