What is hyperemesis gravidarum and how can you treat it?

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 exactly what causes hyperemesis gravidarum, but it is believed to be linked to a woman's increased hormone levels.

Who is most at risk?

While every woman is at risk of developing Hyperemesis Gravidarum, there are a few factors which can increase your chances. When your doctor is trying to diagnose HG they will look for the following factors:

  • If you are pregnant with more than one baby
  • If you are overweight
  • If you are a first-time mother
  • If you have previously suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum
  • If you have Trophoblastic disease - a condition that sees tumours grow inside a woman’s uterus.
  • You're expecting a girl
  • You have a family history of the condition

How do you know if you have it? 

Hyperemesis Gravidarum is the more extreme version of morning sickness and you may suffer from one or all of the following symptoms: 

  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Food aversions
  • Dehydration 
  • Headaches
  • Fainting
  • Confusion 
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Low blood pressure 

How can you treat it:

Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help relieve some of your symptoms.

  • Acupressure - can help reduce the nausea 
  • Drinking ginger or peppermint tea 
  • Getting rest 
  • In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe the following: 
  • An intravenous drip to help restore electrolytes, vitamins and nutrients to the body
  • Tube feeding 
  • Medication

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

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