I was fortunate enough in my first pregnancy to not experience morning sickness. In fact, I missed the whole first trimester by not finding out I was pregnant until 11 weeks, and getting the official "Yes you are!" at 13 weeks. Second time around I wasn't so lucky, and I lost 14 pounds in the first trimester and survived basically on mint tea and crackers.

No matter how miserable I was though, there is a point where morning sickness isn't just something that makes you miserable and you power through, but a serious medical condition that can land you in the hospital -- repeatedly.

Let me introduce you to the condition Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG).

My poor friend suffered from this during both of her pregnancies, but much more in her second pregnancy, which was twins. Though it's not entirely understood, HG has to do with 1 percent of women being unable to handle the rise in hormones during pregnancy -- and when you're pregnant with twins, there is a more significant hormone change.

The differences between normal "morning" sickness and HG:

  • Morning sickness goes away usually in the second trimester.
  • HG does not go away until delivery of the babies.
  • Morning sickness is nausea, occasional vomiting, and some food aversions.
  • HG can make it impossible to even swallow water or eat without vomiting.
  • Morning sickness does not prevent drinking to the point of severe dehydration.
  • HG often requires IV fluids due to the inability to drink.

HG can be severe enough to cause jaundice, dangerous dehydration, dizziness, headaches, confusion, blackouts, and even tooth decay from the stomach acids. As if pregnancy doesn't suck enough sometimes, right?

While there's no way to prevent HG, fortunately there are ways to help treat it.

My friend had to go to the hospital multiple times for anti-nausea medication (not given orally, since she couldn't keep it down) and intravenous fluids, upwards of 12 times during the twin pregnancy. She was given medications to take at home as well (unfortunately, not all for oral delivery either, poor thing), so she was able to at least eat and drink enough to stay out of the hospital for a little while.

It's important to get education about HG out there because women who suffer from it often aren't understood. They're told they're exaggerating and "everyone has morning sickness." Unfortunately, this is much less like common morning sickness and more like having food poisoning, but for weeks or even months. Could you imagine that? Anyone who has had food poisoning once knows that just a couple days of it feels like you want to die sometimes.

In addition to IV medications and anti-nausea meds for you to take at home, acupuncture, bed rest, some anti-nausea herbs such as ginger or mint, and even hypnosis are supposed to help as well. The Hyperemesis Education & Research (HER) Foundation has a lot of resources and support for moms suffering from HG, and information for the father or other support people as well, so they can help understand how to support the woman and warning signs to look for.

Did you or anyone you know suffer from HG?

 

Image via Evil Erin/Flickr