The Low Down on Hyperemesis Gravidarum

The Low Down on Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Hyperemesis gravidarum is characterised by excessive vomiting in pregnancy. It is sometimes referred to as extreme morning sickness. Although, like morning sickness, it doesn’t just happen in the morning. Hyperemesis gravidarum affects less than two per cent of pregnant women. For those affected, it is a pretty miserable experience.

Is this hyperemesis gravidarum?

This condition can be tricky to diagnose, because there is no clear cut medical definition of what hyperemesis gravidarum is. Symptoms include:

  • Weight loss – losing five percent of your pre-pregnancy weight
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive saliva production
  • Inability to eat or drink without vomiting
  • Low blood pressure when standing up

Being correctly diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum can be tough. If you feel your doctor is dismissing your concerns, ask for a second opinion.

The exact causes of hyperemesis gravidarum are unknown, but researchers have found some women are more likely to develop the condition than others. Women who suffer from migraines or travel sickness have an increased risk. As do women carrying twins or triplets. If your mum or sister had hyperemesis gravidarum during pregnancy, you will also be more likely to suffer from this condition.

Coping with hyperemesis gravidarum:

  • Your healthcare provider may prescribe anti-sickness drugs to help prevent vomiting.
  • Some women have found acupuncture has reduced vomiting.
  • Try to rest as much as you can, because tiredness can make vomiting and nausea worse.
  • Ask your friends and family for support. You’ll need help with everyday activities, and you’ll need a friendly ear every now and again.
  • Stay hydrated by taking frequent small sips.
  • Eat whatever you can keep down.
  • Avoid foods and smells that trigger vomiting.

A minority of hyperemesis gravidarum sufferers will be admitted to hospital to receive IV fluids and medication. A hospital stay allows the doctors to fully assess and, hopefully, treat your condition.

Hyperemesis gravidarum is unlikely to harm your baby. The baby will take nutrition from your body’s stores, so do not worry too much about your diet. Focus instead on keeping things down. Women who suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum for the full forty weeks, may find that their babies have lower than average birth weights.

When will it end?

Some women find that the hyperemesis gravidarum starts to ease at around the fourteenth week of pregnancy. For most women, it will be over by week 20, and the second half of the pregnancy will be a much more enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, for up to 20 per cent of sufferers, the hyperemesis gravidarum will last right until the end of the pregnancy.


Hyperemesis gravidarum can be a relentless condition that can leave women feeling drained. Simple everyday tasks can become seemingly impossible. It can lead to depression or stress because of the frustration and isolation that come hand in hand with this condition. If your moods are being affected, speak to your healthcare provider. They will be able to advise you of local and national support groups to contact.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.