Many women experience nausea and morning sickness during pregnancy, but for a small percentage of mums-to-be, the sickness can be worse. 


Less than 3 percent of pregnant women get something called hyperemesis gravidarum, and while there is no cure for it, it's temporary, and there are ways to manage it.


What is hyperemesis gravidarum? 

When you have hyperemesis gravidarum, you will vomit a lot, sometimes almost all of the time. This can lead to problems like dehydration and weight loss.


Morning sickness typically fades by the end of the first trimester, but hyperemesis gravidarum usually lasts longer.


It generally strikes around the fourth and sixth week of pregnancy, and tends to be at its worst around weeks nine to 13. The vomiting is so severe, that most women are unable to go about their typical daily activities.


Symptoms usually get better by the 20th week. 


Doctors do not know what exactly causes hyperemesis gravidarum, but it is believed to be linked to a woman's increased hormone levels. 


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Hyperemesis gravidarum can cause problems for both you and your baby. It can affect: 


Your weight

Losing 5 percent of your body weight is common.


Your kidneys

They may stop working so well, causing you to pee less than you should.


Your mineral balance

You may have low levels of electrolytes, which your body needs to function correctly; they include sodium and potassium. When you don't have enough, it can cause dizziness, weakness, and changes in blood pressure.


Your muscles

Malnutrition, electrolyte imbalance, and the need for bed rest can weaken your muscles.


Your saliva

You may make too much. Swallowing it may make nausea even worse.


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How can you treat hyperemesis gravidarum?

Treatment will depend on the severity of your symptoms, and how the condition is affecting your general health. Up to 5 percent of women with the condition will end up in hospital, but your doctor may make some recommendations first: 


Lifestyle changes

If you can stomach food, try to have smaller, and more frequent meals. Drink smaller drinks, but drink more often. Try cold foods if hot ones trigger your symptoms. Get enough sleep and try to manage your stress levels at all times.



Taking an amount of ginger each day, in several small doses, may help some women with the severe nausea. You can get it in tea, lollipops, or supplements. 



Your doctor can prescribe medicines to help ease the symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum. You can take them by mouth, suppository, IV, or in an injection. Antacids may also help.



This vitamin (also called vitamin B1) in doses of 1.5 milligrams a day may ease vomiting.


IV fluids

If you do end up in hospital, doctors will give you saline and electrolytes and vitamins in IV form, in order to help keep you hydrated.


Tube feeding

If you cannot manage to keep any food down, your doctor may decide to feed you through a tube that goes in your nose, and connects with your stomach. 


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Once you stop vomiting so much and are able to hold down food and remain hydrated, you will be able to stop treatments.


Also it is important to remember that it does eventually stop - and the birth of your baby will be worth it.