Extreme Morning Sickness Is More Than Just Annoying


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

complications, food aversions & cravings, morning sickness, pregnancy symptoms


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nonmember avatar Allboys

OHHHH the suppositories. How I hated them. Yet they got me through three pregnancies. I would tell any women if her doctor is dismissive of any of her symptoms she should fire that doctor immediately. Most of us do complain to our friends and family about the minor aches and pains. However we usually only bring up major complaints that are actually affecting our ability to live a normal life to our doctor. With all of my pregnancies the only thing my doctor did was discuss that it would go away after pregnancy and "lets try _____ first" then go from there. He didn't want to send in the National guard to put out a house fire. My words not his because truth be told neither did I. If he hadn't listened to my simple words of "I'm not keeping anything down" and taken them very seriously I would have walked out of his office and never looked back.

ashlet01 ashlet01

Lucky me my doctor was great, she admitted me for dehyradration before I could ask. The HG was so bad, my husband and I decided we wouldn't have any more kids, we stopped at two, I commend any woman who can go through multiple HG pregnancies, I couldn't and I would love to have have more babies, but not when I can't get up to take care of my kids.

wendy... wendy46121

Unfortunately I have heard too many stories of women not being believed about their symptoms and actually dying from HG.  The worst cases you can't eat or drink for months and months and if you don't have someone who believes you and you can't get admitted, or treated, then that is the likely outcome :(  


I don't think I know anyone who has dealt with it,  but I cannot even imagine how miserable that must be.  I had really really bad mornig sickness for my first trimester and it was hard to do anything at all,  with vomiting all day long,  I can only imagine how bad it must be to deal with it the entire pregnancy!!

briar... briarraindancer

You forgot the weight loss, Christie. That was ultimately how my OB determined I had HG, and not just garden variety morning sickness. I lost more than thirty pounds my first trimester (HER classifies it as HG with 20 pounds or more lost), and I didn't gain that weight back until AFTER birth. 

I also didn't get it this pregnancy, which scared me, a lot, actually. But apparently that's pretty common--some women only get it when they're carrying a certain gender baby, some women only get it once. That's one of the reasons so many doctors are skeptical; there is no rhyme or reason to HG.

RanaA... RanaAurora

It's specifically defined by more than 5% prepregnancy weight loss, I think. I did forget that. Thanks Briar!

ethan... ethans_momma06

I haven't had it, although I had different degrees of morning sickness with both of my pregnancies. My first would be what I would consider 'bad' morning sickness, and the second 'normal'. I could barely move without puking the first time. I can't even imagine it being worse, my my heart really goes out to those who expirience HG.

bless... blessedquiver

I'm on my 11th pregnancy. The only one I didn't get sick to some degree was the twin pregnancy I lost during my 4th pregnancy. I have been that kind of sick 4 of those pregnancies. With my first I only weighted 105 to begin with, reduced to around 90. With my second I barely got sick. Third, I ended up in the hospital having lost 10 lbs in 2 weeks. Numbers 4, 5, 6 and 7 were what I would say was normal morning sickness. Baby #7 I was deathly ill again. Baby #8 was normal morning sickness again. The one I am pregnant with now, I barely got sick at all. I have 4 girls and 5 boys. Honestly, it didn't seem gender influenced with me. 2 of my worst were girls, and 2 were boys.

Phils... PhilsBabyMama

I did not, thank goodness.  I know it is miserable for the women who do. :(

kerij... kerijeanbean

I think I was borderline with my third baby.  I was at the point of not being able to eat or drink and had to go get IV fluids.  I am glad I thought to go to my regular doctor and not my OB.  They gave me IV fluids in the office and didn't send me to the hospital like my OB would have.  I had to go back three days in a row which meant a 45 minute drive to drop my kids off and 30 minutes back tot he doctor's and back to get my kid and then the 45 minutes home.  I was sick until I was 22 and I lost 22 pounds.  I only officially gained 6 pounds with my daughter. 

The morning sickness with my second baby wasn't nearly as bad.  I was only really sick one weekend and I still think I had a stomach virus.  You don't go form being somewhat nauseated to not being able to keep anything down for 48 hours with regular morning sickness.  That should have been obvious when I was still throwing up after they gave me something for the nausea at the ER.

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