It’s not uncommon to hear women talking about their experiences with morning sickness during the early stages of pregnancy. They might mention how they needed to eat frequently to avoid feeling sick or how certain smells brought on a sudden case of nausea. We know that morning sickness is a perfectly normal pregnancy symptom, but what happens when the illness involves more than just occasional vomiting?
When I fell pregnant with my first child, I was so excited. I immediately started shopping and dreaming about my new life as a soon-to-be mother. I couldn’t wait to find out if our baby would be a boy or a girl and we had so much fun brainstorming potential names. It indeed was a magical time of anticipation and joy. Unfortunately, this delirious state of happiness only lasted a couple of weeks.
As soon as I hit the 7 week mark of pregnancy, I was utterly overwhelmed by my symptoms of morning sickness.
Beyond the occasional vomit
During these early weeks, many morning sickness symptoms came as a complete surprise. The sudden development of a highly sensitive gag reflex made it difficult to even brush my teeth. I also didn’t realize that morning sickness could actually strike at any time of the day or how sensitive my sense of smell would become.
Then, when the vomiting began, it was relentless. If I wasn’t vomiting, I was either gagging or dry heaving. When the need to vomit overcame me, there was no time to prepare. I began to vomit in all kinds of places, including the kitchen sink and on one occasion, in a decorative flower pot. It was extremely inconvenient and at times, very embarrassing.
Initially, I had tried to keep working during my pregnancy, but once I began to regularly vomit into the trash can beside my desk, I knew that I needed a bit of time off. As each week passed, the sickness intensified until I was hospitalized for dehydration after being unable to keep down even the ice chips I had been sucking on. It was here that the doctor confirmed I had hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), which is the more severe kind of morning sickness.
How dangerous is hyperemesis gravidarum?
HG is marked by repeated vomiting, weight loss, and dehydration. Doctors say it is caused by rising levels of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) produced mainly during the 1st trimester. During this time, estrogen and progesterone levels also increase. It is thought that these changing hormones can leave a woman feeling unwell or nauseous, most often upon waking in the morning. Hence the name “morning” sickness.
While morning sickness is rarely enjoyable, hyperemesis gravidarum is far more severe and can last all day and every day of your pregnancy. If left untreated, HG can lead to dangerous dehydration and poor weight gain during pregnancy, so it is crucial to take the condition seriously.
For me, HG involved vomiting up to 20 times per day, extreme fatigue, and eventually symptoms of depression and despair that quickly became debilitating. I was told that all of these are common characteristics of HG.
While there are no known treatments for preventing morning sickness or HG, some strategies can help manage the symptoms.
Do natural remedies help manage hyperemesis gravidarum symptoms?
Before considering any kind of medication, I was determined to try every possible natural way of managing my HG. After much Google research and a chat with my midwife, I tried some of the recommended morning sickness remedies.
These remedies can offer you some form of relief, but it’s mostly short-lived if you have HG. Consult your doctor for further treatment.
How to survive severe morning sickness
The main thing I would say is to seek hyperemesis gravidarum treatment early. With so many strategies that seem to be ineffective, I even tried just soldiering through for a while. When my husband could see that I was completely miserable and barely functioning anymore, he suggested that we explore what medications might help, and I reluctantly agreed.
Typically I wouldn’t say I like to take medications unless absolutely necessary, but I reached a point in my pregnancy where my mental health was of genuine concern. It turns out that several antinausea medications have been tried, tested, and determined to be safe for use during pregnancy.
The first one I tried had no effect whatsoever. But after some trial and error, we did end up finding a medication that worked for me, which was a complete game changer. I began to feel a bit more like myself again. Within a couple of days, the feelings of depression had lifted entirely, and I was able to enjoy my pregnancy again.
I went on and had three more pregnancies after my first and each one involved hyperemesis gravidarum. Thankfully, I found that seeking treatment early made it easier to cope with each pregnancy, especially when I had other young children at home to continue caring for.
Suppose you are experiencing morning sickness symptoms that significantly affect your ability to continue leading a normal life. In that case, you just might have hyperemesis gravidarum. As someone who has been through this, I strongly recommend seeking medical advice early to help determine the best management plan for your situation. You don’t need to suffer through it. There are effective treatments out there that can help.