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How do you deal with Hyperemesis Gravidarum during Pregnancy?

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe form of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy that can lead to dehydration, weight loss, and other complications. While many women experience some degree of morning sickness during pregnancy, hyperemesis gravidarum is a much more intense and persistent condition. It usually begins in the first trimester and may continue into the second trimester or, in some cases, the entire pregnancy. My symptoms began by the 6th week of pregnancy. So, How do you deal with Hyperemesis Gravidarum during pregnancy?

My last pregnancy photo – I had HG so lost weight during my pregnancy and felt dehydrated and tired all the time

As someone who personally experienced hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) during my first and only pregnancy, I understand the unique challenges and difficulties associated with severe morning sickness during pregnancy. While sharing advice on coping strategies, I want to acknowledge that the journey can be profoundly challenging, and some well-intentioned advice may come across as patronizing or condescending. It’s important to recognise that each person’s experience with HG is individual, and what works for one may not work for another. My intention is to offer support and practical suggestions based on general knowledge and recommendations. However, I fully respect and acknowledge the validity of personal experiences, and I encourage an open dialogue about the emotional and physical toll that HG can take. If any advice feels dismissive or inadequate, it’s crucial to communicate openly with healthcare providers to find tailored solutions and medical treatment that address specific needs and concerns.

Key characteristics of hyperemesis gravidarum include:

  1. Excessive Vomiting: Women with hyperemesis gravidarum often experience frequent and severe vomiting, sometimes multiple times a day. On my worst days I was experiencing dozens of episodes and almost constant nausea. The impact of this on my daily life was horrendous. 
  2. Dehydration: The persistent vomiting and extreme morning sickness can lead to dehydration, which may result in symptoms such as dark urine, dizziness, and a rapid heart rate. I had to measure my ketone level with urine tests on an almost daily basis when I was not able to hold down enough fluids and this was the key indicator for health professionals to know when to send me in for hospital treatment. My body weight reduced dramatically duirng pregnancy and  
  3. Weight Loss: Due to the severe and prolonged nausea and vomiting, women with hyperemesis gravidarum may experience significant weight loss during pregnancy. There is also the added concern that this can result in a low birth weight for your baby. 
  4. Nutritional Imbalances: The condition can lead to nutritional deficiencies, as the body is not able to retain the necessary nutrients from food.
  5. Difficulty in Daily Functioning: Hyperemesis gravidarum can significantly impact a woman’s ability to perform daily activities and may interfere with her ability to work or care for herself.
  6. The exact cause of hyperemesis gravidarum is not well understood, but factors such as hormonal changes, sensitivity to the hCG hormone (human chorionic gonadotropin), and genetic predisposition may contribute. You are considered to be at an increased risk if family members have also experienced HG. Women who have experienced hyperemesis gravidarum in a previous pregnancy are at a higher risk of developing it in subsequent or future pregnancies.

Advice to deal with Hyperemesis Gravidarum during pregnancy

Management and treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum typically involve a combination of lifestyle changes, dietary modifications, medications, and, in severe cases, hospitalisation for intravenous (IV) fluids and nutrition. I ended up having prescription medication throughout my pregnancy although I tried to hold out until the end of my first trimester. Some effective treatments do exist and especially when I was experiencing severe dehydration, anti-nausea medication and intravenous fluids helped me  relieve the symptoms of hg.  It’s essential for women experiencing severe symptoms to consult with their healthcare providers for a proper diagnosis and individualised treatment plan. Early intervention and proper management can help alleviate symptoms and ensure the well-being of both the mother and the baby.

Stay Hydrated:


Ensuring adequate hydration is essential in managing symptoms, particularly since dehydration can exacerbate the effects of severe morning sickness. To maintain proper hydration, it is recommended to sip on various fluids such as water, herbal teas, or electrolyte solutions consistently throughout the day. Experimenting with different strategies, such as using a straw or adjusting the temperature of the beverages (choosing between cold or room temperature), can help identify what feels more tolerable and aids in preventing dehydration. I found icy cold drinks were easiest to tolerate and in some cases just having some small ice cubes to hand. These practices contribute to the overall effort to alleviate the impact of severe morning sickness during pregnancy. I began to understand what to look for – symptoms of dehydration for me initially included pinching the skin on my thumbs and forefingers before I began using ketone urine tests. 

Eat Small, Frequent Meals:


Opting for smaller, more frequent meals is advisable, as large meals can potentially trigger nausea during pregnancy. Dietary changes are inevitable. It’s beneficial to select foods that are easy to digest, such as plain crackers, dry foods such as dry toast, cereal, or applesauce. Additionally, a practical strategy involves keeping snacks readily available by your bedside and consuming a small amount before getting out of bed in the morning. I avoided fatty foods entirely but also found salty  foods were somewhat of a craving – I’m not sure if craving salty foods was my body’s way of tricking me to increase my fluid intake. These dietary practices help manage the symptoms of severe morning sickness, ensuring a more comfortable and nourishing approach to avoiding an empty stomach and eating during pregnancy.

Avoid Triggers:

To cope with severe morning sickness, it’s important to identify and steer clear of smells or foods that trigger nausea. Enhancing ventilation by opening windows for fresh air or using fans can help disperse strong odours. Another useful strategy is considering the use of air purifiers to minimize any lingering smells that may contribute to nausea. Additionally, seeking assistance with cooking or delegating these tasks to others can be beneficial if specific odours are particularly bothersome. I made sure that my partner didn’t cook when I was at home and for the most part he was able to eat at work, Strong smells such as cooked onions would be triggering for me. By actively managing environmental factors, individuals experiencing severe morning sickness can create a more comfortable and nausea-free living space.

Ginger:


Ginger is known for its natural anti-nausea properties, making it a potentially helpful remedy for managing severe morning sickness during pregnancy. Consuming ginger in various forms, such as ginger tea, ginger candies, or ginger ale, can provide soothing relief from nausea. However, caution is advised when considering ginger supplements, and it’s crucial to discuss their use with your healthcare provider, particularly in higher doses. Consulting with a healthcare professional ensures that any ginger-related interventions align with your individual health needs and are safe for pregnancy. I lost count of the times people told me to try a ginger biscuit. I found the unwarranted medical advice to be irritating and if I’m honest, it didn’t help me at all with this most severe form of nausea, however I’m including this as lots of people swear by it. 

Acupressure:


Acupressure wristbands are designed to target specific pressure points that may help alleviate nausea, including morning sickness during pregnancy. These bands are commonly available at most drugstores and can be a convenient and non-invasive option for managing nausea. However, it’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider before using acupressure wristbands during pregnancy. Ensuring their safe use is important, and your healthcare provider can provide personalized guidance based on your medical history and individual needs. Always prioritize safety and seek professional advice when incorporating new strategies to manage pregnancy-related. I used to have one for motion sickness and tried it out briefly during pregnancy but to no avail. 

Rest:


Addressing fatigue is integral in managing nausea, especially during pregnancy. Prioritising sufficient rest is crucial, as fatigue can exacerbate feelings of nausea. I found the first trimester of pregnancy exhausting. My hormone levels were fluctuating massively which is normal but for hg sufferers its amplified. Consider taking short naps during the day if needed, and ensure that you are getting adequate nighttime sleep. Listening to your body’s signals and resting when you feel tired can help prevent exhaustion and contribute to an overall sense of well-being. Balancing activity with periods of rest is essential during pregnancy, providing the body with the necessary recuperation to better cope with the challenges of severe morning sickness. I found that once I started on medication for teh severe sickness that tiredness was an additional unwanted side effect. 

Medications:

In cases of severe morning sickness, healthcare providers may prescribe medications to manage nausea and vomiting. Commonly recommended options include vitamin B6 supplements and antihistamines. In more severe cases, prescription medications may be considered to provide effective relief. It’s crucial to note that self-medicating during pregnancy is not advisable. Always consult with your healthcare provider before taking any medications, even those available over-the-counter. They can provide guidance on the safety and appropriateness of specific medications based on your individual health profile and the stage of your pregnancy. Open communication with your healthcare provider is key to ensuring both your well-being and that of your baby. I had a variety of different treatment options and made sure I fully understood all of the side effects and different medical term s used by the health care professionals before making decisions based on what was a good idea for me. 

Seek Support:

Open communication with your healthcare provider is essential during pregnancy, particularly if you are dealing with severe morning sickness. Discuss your symptoms and any emotional challenges you may be facing to ensure comprehensive care and emotional support. Seek assistance from friends, family, or a counsellor who can offer understanding and encouragement during this challenging time. Joining support groups specifically designed for women experiencing severe morning sickness can provide a sense of community, allowing you to share experiences and coping strategies with others who are facing similar challenges. The pregnancy hormones can really affect you during this time and I did have to step away from some support groups as I got myself trapped in a spiral of negativity. I also felt alienated from normal pregnancy support groups as I could not enjoy the pregnancy experience so on the whole I found it extremely isolating. A combination of professional guidance and a supportive network can significantly contribute to managing both the physical and emotional aspects of severe morning sickness during pregnancy.

Hospitalisation:


In severe cases of hyperemesis gravidarum, hospitalisation may become necessary to effectively manage dehydration and provide appropriate medical care. During hospitalisation, healthcare professionals may administer intravenous (IV) fluids to restore hydration levels, as persistent vomiting can lead to significant fluid loss. Additionally, medications may be given to control nausea and vomiting, ensuring the well-being of both the mother and the developing baby.

Hospitalisation offers a controlled environment where healthcare providers can closely monitor the patient’s health and address any complications promptly. This level of care becomes crucial when severe morning sickness poses risks to maternal health, potentially impacting the pregnancy. Regular monitoring allows for timely interventions, ensuring that both the pregnant woman and her baby receive the necessary medical attention and support.

How do you deal with Hyperemesis Gravidarum during Pregnancy?

In conclusion, managing hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) during pregnancy is highly individualized, and there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Each person’s experience is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Dealing with extreme sickness often involves a willingness to explore various strategies to alleviate symptoms. Personally, my journey with HG was so challenging that my pregnancy became a singular experience; the thought of going through it again is something I cannot bear. It’s important to remember that, despite the difficulties, there is light at the end of the tunnel. For many, relief from HG symptoms occurs almost immediately after giving birth. If you’re facing HG, know that you’re not alone, and seeking support from healthcare providers, friends, and family can make a significant difference in navigating this challenging journey.

Remember that these suggestions are general guidelines, and your healthcare provider will provide the most accurate advice based on your specific situation. Always consult with them before trying any new remedies or making significant changes to your diet or lifestyle during pregnancy.

Last Updated on 6 months by Lavania Oluban

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