Hyperemisis Gravidarium

Hyperemisis gravidarium is a pregnancy complication suffered by around one in every 100 mothers-to-be. It is characterised by excessive vomiting in pregnancy and if you have it, you’ll find you probably won’t be able to keep anything down.

It can begin as early as four weeks and can last for the entire pregnancy, although it is more likely to ease between week 15 and week 20.

Normal morning sickness is different to hyperemisis gravidarium. Signs you may have it are:

  • You can not eat or drink anything without vomiting
  • You have lost at least five per cent of your pre-pregnancy weight
  • You are dehydrated due to ongoing and severe vomiting (signs of dehydration are producing very little urine, not weeing for eight hours, or producing very dark urine).

The cause of hyperemisis gravidarium is not known but some women are more likely to get it. You may be predisposed to it if:

  • You’re expecting twins or triplets
  • Your sister or mum had hyperemisis gravidarium during their pregnancies
  • You suffered from hyperemisis gravidarium in a past pregnancy.

Hyperemisis gravidarium can leave you feeling exhausted and stressed and may affect your enjoyment of your pregnancy. It can make simple tasks very difficult and put your relationships under pressure.

It is important to tell your doctor or care-giver as soon as possible if you think you may have hyperemisis gravidarium as they may be able to offer you treatment that may help. It is important that you also seek help from your partner, extended family and friends as it’s likely you will be feeling very unwell, and they can assist with chores such as shopping, cooking or looking after older children.

Other things you can do that may help:

  • Try to stay hydrated by sucking on ice cubes or taking small sips of water
  • Eat whatever you can manage – don’t be too concerned about nutritional value – you can catch up once the sickness eases, try nibbling on dry crackers or something small to keep your blood sugars up.
  • Get as much rest as you can – tiredness makes nausea and vomiting worse.

If you can’t keep anything down, taking medication for hyperemisis gravidarium may prove difficult. If you can’t keep the medication down or if it is not effective then you may be admitted to hospital.

Medication can be helpful, but if it doesn’t work for you, you may require hospitalisation for short periods. It will cease when you have your baby, but it can be an unpleasant and exhausting experience during which you will need close monitoring by your health professional and support from your family and friends.

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