What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

According to website helpher.org, “HG is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening pregnancy disease marked by rapid weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration due to unrelenting nausea and/or vomiting with potential adverse consequences for the newborn(s).”

Morning Sickness: Hyperemesis Gravidarum:
Nausea sometimes accompanied by vomiting Nausea accompanied by severe vomiting
Nausea that subsides at 12 weeks or soon after Nausea that does not subside
Vomiting that does not cause severe dehydration Vomiting that causes severe dehydration
Vomiting that allows you to keep some food down Vomiting that does not allow you to keep any food down

Signs and symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum:

  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Food aversions
  • Weight loss of 5% or more of pre-pregnancy weight
  • Decrease in urination
  • Dehydration
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Jaundice
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Loss of skin elasticity

It is important to distinguish normal morning sickness from hyperemesis. Many pregnant women experience normal morning sickness during their first trimester. The difference between morning sickness and HG is that women with morning sickness are still able to eat and go about daily functioning. Someone with HG has a lot of trouble eating and gaining weight and actually loses weight. An HG sufferer struggles with daily functioning – including going to work, taking care of the children, doing simple daily chores, even taking a shower.

Many women with HG end up in the ER due to dehydration and usually undergo long-term IV treatment to prevent dehydration and also to administer anti-nausea medication through the IV. The worst case scenario with HG is someone with symptoms so severe that the liver malfunctions and the pregnancy ends in a natural miscarriage or mom’s body is shutting down to the point where the doctor recommends termination of the pregnancy in order to save mom’s life.

I am so thankful that I am not one with HG symptoms so severe that it has threatened my baby’s life…I cannot imagine going through all the suffering of hyperemesis only to find out that the baby cannot make it. When I read stories of moms who have lost their babies due to HG, all I can do is cry and thank God that I have not had to go through that. The good news is that most HG pregnancies end up with healthy babies born full-term! It really is amazing how these babies are so resilient. It certainly brings a new image to mind when I think about “the miracle of life.”

Because hyperemesis is so rare (only 1-2% of pregnant women get HG), many people have never heard of it and do not understand this disorder properly. I hope this blog clears up common misconceptions about women with HG. Please share this information with the women in your lives – it can possibly save someone’s life!

Resources:

Hyperemesis Education & Research Foundation, www.helpher.org (leading source of information for moms, family members, and medical professionals; contains medical studies and treatment options)

Baby Center’s online support group for hyperemesis suffers, http://community.babycenter.com/groups/a986645/hyperemesis_sufferers

Beyond Morning Sickness, http://beyondmorningsickness.com/ (offering books for moms and kids, forums, and phone mentoring support)

Ayden Rae Foundation, http://www.aydenraefoundation.org/ (HG advocacy and research organization)

5 thoughts on “What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

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