Hyperemesis Gravidarum. No, I’m not swearing at you but if those are words you are familiar with, I won’t be surprised if you just flinched.

Hyperemesis is Greek for “excessive vomiting’ and Gravida Latin for “pregnant” means just that: excessive vomiting in pregnancy.

According to Wikipedia, Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a severe form of morning sickness, with “unrelenting, excessive pregnancy-related nausea and/or vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids.” Hyperemesis is considered a rare complication of pregnancy but, because nausea and vomiting during pregnancy exist on a continuum, there is often not a good diagnosis between common morning sickness and hyperemesis. Estimates of the percentage of pregnant women afflicted range from 0.3% to 2.0%

And of courses, I fall into that 0.3% to 2.0%

When I was pregnant with Ameli, I lost 18kg – that’s around 3 stone or just shy of 40lbs. and around 15% of my pre-pregnancy body weight – in the first five months and was eventually hospitalised. I had a particularly bad doctor who not only didn’t know what was wrong, but when I took the diagnoses of Hyperemesis Gravidarum (made by my mother on the phone from Australia) to him, kept rolling his eyes and telling me pregnant women got sick, and I just had to -suck it up’ (despite having 5+ ketones in my urine). When I finally almost collapsed at work at around 11 weeks, having had one meal in 14 days, and not eaten anything in 7, and kept no water down in three days, I was admitted to A&E where I was put on a drip and had almost 5 litres of intravenous nutrition before I could even urinate.

And because of all this, I’ve been very apprehensive of falling pregnant again. But nature and desire won out, and here I am: five weeks pregnant, and two days food free.

HG has never really had many studies or had much research into it. There are a few theories, though little fact. There’s a suspicion that it could be genetic – I know my grandmother had it for her entire pregnancy, although I’m not sure about my mother. It could also be to do with the HCG level, or with leptin. The fact is, no one really knows. As a result, there’s also no known treatment for it, but it is known that -normal’ morning sickness treatments do not work.

In the past, women have died from this disease. I was ‘lucky’ in that I was only ill for five months. Some women suffer the entire pregnancy, and some continue to suffer even after the child is born. Charlotte Bronte is suspected of dying from HG – due to malnourishment and dehydration. At least I know that I can walk into any A&E and ask to be put on a drip if it comes to that again. If you suffer from this disease, Functional Medicine Associates can help find the root of the problem.

The worst insult to HG is that in bygone years, it was believed to be a psychological reaction to not wanting the child. I remember one night, three day before being admitted into hospital when I was so tired, and so sick of being sick that I told Martin I didn’t know if I wanted my baby anymore. That was when he realised that I was nearing the end of my tether. So that’s another side effect of HG – prenatal depression. Fortunately that lifted for me once someone started listening to me and believing that there really was something wrong with me.

I’m not sure how this is all going to unfold this time. I already feel weak, tired, and unable to cope with the stress Hyperemesis Gravidarum puts on your body and those closest to you, but at least this time know what to do about it, and where to go for help.

The sad fact is that I can’t get help until things are bad. I’m sleeping for large chunks of the day, listless and dizzy, nauseous and short of patience for the parts I’m not sleeping or leaning over the toilet.

Last time I got reprieve from the sickness at night, but so far, that’s not the case this time. Although I do feel particularly ill when Ameli nurses, which she tends to mainly at night, so that doesn’t really help.

Watch this space, I guess, to see how it all works out.

Oh, and FYI, things NOT to say to a Hyperemesis Gravidarum sufferer include, but are not limited to:

  • Every pregnancy is different
  • Have you tried ginger?
  • You’re just sick cause it’s a (insert sex here)
  • Do you really want this baby?


Categories: Pregnancy


Hyperemesis Gravidarum

  1. Ooooo how I know wat u mean. And u see those lines u wrote nt 2say 2a HG sufferer. I just cry when I hear any. As if its nt frustrating enuf. I’m preg again & still nt finding it funny. I’ve considered termination but I’m holding on 2d lite @d end of d tunnel. When u see ur bundle of joy, its just worth it *smiles*

  2. Oh my goodness, I have never heard of this. I do hope that you are doing better in this second pregnancy. It was good to finally meet you at the MADS 🙂 (I am off to the US next week)I had preclampsia during mine and I was wretched at the end…horrible feeling. It’s not the same, but I think that feeling of just being sick and wanting it all to be done with is something I can relate to.

  3. Hi I totally feel for you I had this with both my pregnancies. My experience was that it was worse the second time. after the first pregnancy I believed the people who said it would be different the second time I would not suffer again but alas it wasnt true. Its even harder as you cant just crawl of to bed you have to look after youre little one the 2nd time round.

    Hope you are feeling well today and at least this time you have a diagnosis and understand its not ordinary morning sickness and you go straight to hospital if you fear dehydration, instead of soldiering on till you collapse.

    Keep us posted and fingers crossed for an early end to the HG!

  4. Congratulations! On the pregnancy, I mean, not the HG. That’s hell. I had it, too, with both my children. I died in childbirth with child #1 (for about 90 seconds, and obviously was resuscitated (however you spell it) and at the 5month mark with my daughter, we both almost died. Fun fun fun!

    It sucks. Nothing about being pregnant is fun when you’re exhausted and desperate and puking so hard your insides literally begin to rip apart. Has that happened to you yet? I remember no one believed me during my first pregnancy until I was barfing up bright blood and they found out at the hospital my esophagus had torn from such violent spasms. That happened a lot. There was always bruising around my stomach as muscles ripped, and I was always throwing up blood from fresh tissue ripping on the inside.

    The only reason everyone around me survived my pregnancy was because I was too weak to strangle them for their ignorance and “think good thoughts and eat ginger!” advice. What I REALLY hate is how people continue to blame ME for being so sick, because I knew it was happening so they tell me, “Well, you thought about it so hard you brought it on yourself. You just have to be positive for the next one.” Yeah, I swear there’s no response to that other than swinging a baseball bat at their heads. Sorry for such a violent image, but the sheer ignorance and inconsideration for a life-threatening illness is just mind-boggling.

    I’ve read and been told that one thought about HG is a twofold combo: a reaction similar to transplant rejection (your body is rejecting this foreign invader) and a violent overdose reaction because your body is producing a ton of hormones even more than a “normal” pregnancy so being sensitive to the flood of hormones combined with the rejection reaction, your body just becomes violently, horribly, unimaginably sick. Have you heard of that hypothesis? It makes sense the more I think about it, because so many of the body’s reactions have the same scale as both rejection and overdose. And I’ve also read in several sources that each subsequent pregnancy gets worse with HG.

    In my experience (though I’ve only been pregnant twice) is that this is spot-on correct. Last time, only my life was in danger and my son was always healthy. This time, though, both myself and my daughter were in serious danger often.

    How do you cope? I found that sipping a certain tea throughout the day (as I could) helped take the edge off sometimes. It contained vervaine, marshmallow leaf, ginger, and a host of other herbs. I combined it with equal parts pure peppermint tea and half portions of a Silver Needle white tea for antioxidants, and it would help some. Even if it only helped enough to keep me a little hydrated and shaved a few sessions bent over the toilet out of my day, that was enough. I included a link to the tea store; http://www.teavana.com/the-teas/herbal-teas/p/swiss-vervaine-melange-herbal-tea

    And text messaging was a godsend! I couldn’t talk during my pregnancies because it triggered more dry heaves, so during my 2nd I would text message instead. It helped me feel like I was still part of the conversation and I could express myself.

    I know it’s useless to say so, but I hope you feel better soon, and that you find ways to help you be more comfortable. I hope you have tons of help while sick, and lots of compassionate friends and family!!!

  5. I’m sorry if my comment wasn’t serious enough – In retrospect it came across as almost rude. What you’re going through sounds so tough – but – I’m just also so excited for your family! Kyra’s just been such a light in your life, I know your little bundle is going to be so worth it. Pregnancy kind of sucks – children are kind of amazing. xoxo.

  6. CONGRATS FRIEND – I knew you couldn’t be far behind. Though I have to admit, I’m happy to be on the ending side of pregnancy than the starting side. It has been so much more enjoyable/less stressful this time – I hope the icky part passes quickly and you get the happy bump time soon.


  7. Congratulations Luschka! I know what you feeling, my sister is in the same situation as you right now. its not easy, hold on there!

  8. Eeeeek! Lushka! I am so sorry to hear you are feeling so rotten! That wonderful thing that is pregnancy is made so so hard for you! You are one tough cookie! I have no idea how you are coping (esp with a toddler in hand too). Sending you a massive hug and tell me if there is ANYTHING I can do (save for give you a drip, as I don’t have one!)

    Maggy xxxx

  9. I had this with Zack. I ended up being rushed to hospital on Christmas eve at 12 weeks to be put on a drip, as I had started bringing up black stuff. *shudders*
    I was lucky that it calmed down a bit once I hit 22ish weeks.
    Even more lucky that I only had a bit of regular morning sickness with Max.
    At least you know the signs this time around, eh?
    Also? Congratulations!! xxx

  10. Hi,
    Congratulations on your pregnancy! I just found your blog post minutes after I posted mine on the same subject (though I’m not pregnant). I hope the HG is less bad for you this time. Good luck!

  11. really really sympathise, i had this in both my pregnancies and like you lost a lot of weight and eventually had to be hospitalised. Unless you’ve been through it no one can imagine how bad it is xxx

  12. Oh mama, deep sympathy. There is just no comfort when it’s so bad, I can only hope that for you it gradually eases off until you can manage it. In the meantime, hang in there.

    Keep sucking ice whenever you can, and make some angry powerful mama birth art when you have any energy for it. Do you have lots of people around you for Kyra? There is nothing NOTHING more scary than being responsible for a toddler when you know that you can barely move without having to go be sick again. Wish I could come take some of the stress off your hands. 🙁

  13. Oh maaan! I completely feel your pain. I had bad morning sickness with my daughter but suffered hyperemesis with my twins and it was debilitating. It was the worst few weeks I have ever experienced. Everything made me sick; cleaning products, looking at food, people talking about food weird! I was in hospital twice on a drip. It wasn’t so much the sickness I hated, but the extreme tiredness. Before, I would have hated spending even an hour away from my daughter , who was only two at the time, but I just wanted to sleep. I felt like I was dying.
    They finally found the right combination of anti-sickness drugs and I began to feel better – luckily I didn’t have it all the way through. I think you sometimes have to keep going back to the gp so they can get you the right drugs.
    I hated the have you tried ginger comments too. But I don’t think anyone understands who hasn’t been through it. What I did learn from it was a person can survive on wethers originals for two months.
    Hope you feel better soon. It is so hard when you have an older one too. I hope you’re able to get lots of help and no more silly comments.

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