A little bundle of joy is on its way! The news brings a smile to your face and butterflies in your stomach. Or wait … “nope, not butterflies,” you think as you rush to the nearest bathroom. While you are filled with excitement and anticipation, you may also feel a little bit of dread. You’ve been warned about these first twelve weeks. “Morning sickness” that lasts way beyond the morning is filled with extreme exhaustion, nausea, food aversions, and vomiting. You remind yourself that your body is working in overdrive to prepare a home for your little one, so you do your best to muster through the days. While the pains of the first trimester are almost like a rite of passage, if you experience excessive nausea and vomiting, you may have an condition called hyperemesis gravidarum that is much more severe than typical morning sickness. In fact, those suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum would actually welcome the traditional symptoms of morning sickness!
What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a condition associated with severe nausea and vomiting that leads to weight loss and decrease in electrolytes. HG only affects about 2% of pregnant women, while nearly 80% experience some form of morning sickness. You may be wondering why this term sounds familiar to you. If you keep up with the royal family, then you’ll recall Kate Middleton suffering from HG with all three of her pregnancies. In fact, it was this severe condition that caused her and Prince William to announce each pregnancy so early.
Although the exact cause cannot be pinpointed, most doctors believe that hyperemesis gravidarum is caused by an increase in the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG. Usually occurring early in the first trimester, HG symptoms peak at 9-13 weeks. Many women experience some relief in the second trimester, but 20% of women diagnosed with HG must be treated for the duration of their pregnancy. HG is typically diagnosed once a woman has lost over 10 pounds of her pre-pregnancy weight due to inability to keep any food down. Because of this dangerous amount of weight loss, many women must be monitored and treated until the vomiting subsides.
Symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Symptoms of HG may look similar to that of morning sickness, but there are noticeable differences including the severity and constancy of vomiting. Other symptoms include:
- Food aversion
- Weight loss
- Decrease in urination
- Increased heart rate
- Low blood pressure
If you experience any of these symptoms or are unable to keep food and water down, don’t try to push through, contact your doctor at The Woman’s Clinic. In many cases, treatment or hospitalization is a must.
Ways to Treat Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Your doctor may prescribe you anti-nausea medication or discuss dietary changes with you. However, if you are still vomiting excessively, an IV might be necessary. Intravenous fluids are used to improve hydration, electrolytes, and nutrition levels that you are unable to maintain with constant vomiting. In many cases, a short hospital stay will ensure you are getting the nutrients you need to grow a healthy baby. In the most extreme cases, a feeding tube may be needed, while an IV or prescription for medication is typical procedure. Your doctor may also encourage bed rest to help combat the fatigue and allow your body to focus on keeping you and your little one healthy. While HG might be painful and miserable for you, there is no evidence that your baby will suffer any complications if you do not delay treatment.
If you are pregnant and experience severe nausea and vomiting, contact your doctor at The Woman’s Clinic today. Our great team of doctors is committed to helping you have a successful pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. Don’t take any risks or hesitate to seek the opinion of a health professional.