How to Deal with Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Three Parts:Recognizing the Signs of Hyperemesis GravidarumDiagnosing Hyperemesis GravidarumTreating Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Most pregnant women experience some degree of “morning sickness”: the typical nausea and vomiting that usually tapers off by the end of the first trimester. For some women, however, these symptoms are severe enough to cause serious complications, including dehydration and a lack of sufficient nutrition. These cases are diagnosed as hyperemesis gravidarum, and they may persist well past the first trimester. If you have hyperemesis gravidarum, don’t panic: in most cases, both mother and baby get through the pregnancy just fine. Scroll down to Step 1 to learn more.

Part 1
Recognizing the Signs of Hyperemesis Gravidarum

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    Pay attention to your morning sickness. If you have morning sickness (and 70-80% of all pregnant women do), pay attention to the severity of your symptoms and the number of times per day that you are vomiting.
    • As long as you are keeping some food and fluids down and vomiting only a few times a day, you probably have garden-variety morning sickness. Mention it to your doctor and read up on coping strategies, but know that morning sickness is normal and will probably pass by the end of the first trimester.
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    Monitor your weight. It’s fine if you don’t gain much weight in your first trimester; in fact, because of morning sickness, many women lose a few pounds (a trend that reverses quickly in the second trimester). But if you lose more than five pounds or so, your doctor may want to evaluate you for hyperemesis gravidarum.
    • Weight checks should be a part of your routine prenatal care. If your nausea and vomiting get very severe, though, you should also weigh yourself at home. That way, you can make an appointment with your doctor if your weight drops suddenly between scheduled check-ups.
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    Watch for signs of dehydration. If you are not keeping fluids down, the biggest immediate concern is dehydration. See your doctor immediately if you are vomiting a lot and you notice any of the following symptoms:
    • dry mouth and swollen tongue
    • severe weakness
    • dizziness or lightheadedness
    • fainting
    • confusion
    • decreased urine output

Part 2
Diagnosing Hyperemesis Gravidarum

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    Talk to your obstetrician. If you think you have hyperemesis gravidarum, you need to see your obstetrician as soon as possible, so make an appointment if you do not have a regular check-up scheduled very soon. Explain your symptoms to your doctor as clearly as you can, and in as much detail as possible – how much you eating and drinking, what percentage of the day you feel nauseated, how many times per day you are vomiting.
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    Have a thorough examination. Your obstetrician should evaluate your vital signs and general appearance, and he or she should look for evidence of dehydration. Many women with hyperemesis gravidarum appear generally healthy, though, so this examination is not sufficient to rule out the condition.
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    Schedule lab tests. Your doctor will probably want to check your blood and urine to help pin down a diagnosis. Have these tests as soon as possible, as they can reveal both the presence of hyperemesis gravidarum and any complications that are developing because of the condition.
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    Get a diagnosis. If you are vomiting more than four times a day, losing significant weight, or experiencing symptoms of dehydration, or if your lab tests reveal problems related to your nausea and vomiting, your doctor may diagnose you with hyperemesis gravidarum.

Part 3
Treating Hyperemesis Gravidarum

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    Eat small, frequent meals. If you have hyperemesis gravidarum, it’s best not to wait too long between meals (an empty stomach can make your symptoms worse) or eat too much at one sitting (an overly full stomach will probably induce vomiting). Instead, eat small amounts of bland foods at regular intervals.
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    Get plenty of rest. Pregnancy taxes your body even under normal circumstances. If you have hyperemesis gravidarum, your body will be seriously drained. Get as much rest as possible.
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    Try home remedies if possible. If your case is not too severe, your doctor may let you try to treat your hyperemesis gravidarum at home. Possible home remedies include:
    • pressure-point wristbands (like those used for motion sickness)
    • vitamin B6 supplements
    • ginger-based foods, teas, or supplements
    • peppermint-based foods, teas, or supplements
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    Ask about medications. If your condition is serious enough to create health problems for you or your baby, your doctor may recommend that you take medications to manage your nausea. Discuss the potential risks and benefits of each medication with your obstetrician – some drugs are safer than others during pregnancy – and follow his or her directions exactly.
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    Get your fluids intravenously. If you are dehydrated, your obstetrician may admit you to the hospital, where you can receive fluids through an IV.
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    Consider intravenous nutrition. If your symptoms are very severe, you may need more than just fluids. Your obstetrician may admit you to the hospital for something called total parenteral nutrition (TPN), in which your nutrients are given by IV. For serious cases of hyperemesis gravidarum, this may be necessary both for your health and for the health of your baby.
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    Monitor the baby’s condition. If your symptoms are concerning, your doctor may order tests, including ultrasounds, to check on the development of your baby. Try not to worry too much about these tests. In most cases of hyperemesis gravidarum, the baby is not adversely affected.
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    Talk to your doctor about termination in extremely serious cases. In a very, very small percentage of cases, the hyperemesis gravidarum becomes so intense as to be potentially life-threatening for the mother. In these cases, you and your doctor may consider terminating the pregnancy.

Tips

  • Find support. Hyperemesis gravidarum can be profoundly stressful and traumatic. Look for local or online support groups, and consider seeing a therapist.
  • Get help. If you have a severe case of hyperemesis gravidarum, you will need help with errands and household chores. If you already have children, you will also need help with childcare. Don’t be shy about asking friends, coworkers, relatives, and your partner to help you.
  • Banish any feelings of guilt or shame. Hyperemesis gravidarum is not your fault. It’s not a sign that you aren’t happy with your pregnancy, and it’s not a sign that you’re not taking good care of yourself or your unborn baby. It is a serious medical condition, and you should not feel badly about taking time off work or requesting help from friends and relatives.

Article Info

Categories: Pregnancy