When Is Morning Sickness a Problem?
Many women suffer from morning sickness during pregnancy. A deadlier form of morning sickness has been highlighted just recently with the announcement of a new baby for the Duchess of Cambridge. Prince William’s wife suffers from a rare form of severe morning sickness which is called hyperemesis gravidarum. This condition affects just 1% of pregnant women but causes excessive vomiting and nausea that unlike ordinary morning sickness doesn’t fade away.
In the worst case, it can leave women bedbound or even in need of hospitalization because they cannot keep any food or drink down. This may lead to dehydration which can be very serious for both the mother and the unborn child.
What Are the Symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
The condition is characterized by severe vomiting and nausea combined with weight loss and electrolyte disturbance. It’s possible for mild forms of this condition to be treated with antacids, plenty of rest and by changing diet. However, a woman who is suffering from a more severe form may require staying in a hospital so she can receive nutrition and fluid intravenously.
Telling the Difference between Ordinary Morning Sickness and Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Ordinary morning sickness is characterized by a feeling of nausea that is sometimes combined with vomiting. Hyperemesis gravidarum is a feeling of nausea combined with severe vomiting. Unlike ordinary morning sickness that generally subsides at week 12 or so, feelings of nausea may not subside so easily. This is especially when a woman has hyperemesis gravidarum.
With ordinary morning sickness, the vomiting doesn’t cause severe dehydration which can be a particular problem with hyperemesis gravidarum. Additionally, women generally manage to keep at least a little food down. But hyperemesis gravidarum often doesn’t allow women to keep any food or drink down. Women with this problem may develop aversions to certain foods and will have weight loss.
They may have headaches, their blood pressure will be low or will feel very fatigued, or will frequently feel faint. It’s not uncommon to experience a rapid heartbeat and in the worst case, it can lead to jaundice.
Why Does Hyperemesis Gravidarum Develop?
Most women will have at least some kind of morning sickness with this problem affecting 70% to 80% of women during pregnancy. Recent studies show that at least 60,000 women experienced hyperemesis gravidarum and had to be treated in hospital in the United States. The actual numbers are likely to be much higher. These figures only include women who were hospitalized and do not consider the many women who were treated in outpatient facilities.
It also does not include the women that were treated at home by their healthcare provider. It’s thought condition develops due to an increase in hormone levels, but the exact cause isn’t really known. Most symptoms begin between the fourth and sixth weeks of pregnancy and the problem may reach its peak between the ninth and thirteenth weeks. However, even though most women will find these symptoms subside between the fourteenth week, hyperemesis gravidarum women experience it throughout their pregnancy.
Women might experience some of these symptoms in the twentieth week. 20% of women diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum will need care right throughout their pregnancy.
Treating Hyperemesis Gravidarum
If you are pregnant and think you might have this condition it’s important to get in touch with your obstetrician or your doctor immediately. They may prescribe bed rest but sometimes hospitalization is necessary, particularly if you need to receive food and fluids intravenously. Self-help treatments may include acupressure and some women find wearing a wristband designed to help cope with seasickness is useful.
Ginger or peppermint tea can help with feelings of nausea. With any kind of self-help treatments, it’s important to discuss the potential risks and side effects with your obstetrician or healthcare provider. They will want to ensure that any possible treatments are safe for you and your baby. Hyperemesis gravidarum can leave women feeling exhausted and depressed and unable to enjoy their pregnancy.
The impact of having this condition can last for quite a while and some women may find it puts them off adding to their family. Hopefully, with the correct treatment, the symptoms can become manageable. Knowing you might develop this problem again does at least allow you to plan for it. If you have ordinary morning sickness, it’s also worth having a chat with your obstetrician or doctor to find out how to cope with this problem.
They can assess its severity and will recommend the most effective ways to deal with this issue until it is naturally resolved as your pregnancy progresses.