Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a rare condition that affects 0.5–2.0% of pregnant women. It has a weird, hard-to-spell name but I think it should just be called ‘living hell’. The word itself is broken down to mean “hyper” is over- excessive or severe, “Emesis” is a medical term for vomiting, and “Gravidarum” is pregnancy. Put the word together for severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
If you’ve never had HG, think morning sickness x 1,000; then feel this way 24/7. Hyperemesis gravidarum is NOT morning sickness. This is not normal, mild, or temporary vomiting that most women have in early pregnancy.
If you have HG, you are in bed, on the floor, or over the toilet. If you have HG it is impossible to read, drive, or move. Drinking more than a teaspoon of water makes you yak, lifting your head and opening eyes is momentous ; a major and rare effort. You are in a dark hole with little hope of seeing the light at the end of tunnel.
If you know someone with HG, help them. They need it. Consider them an invalid and do not downplay their feelings – they feel awful and don’t need the added pressure to buck up and act normal. Left untreated, HG can cause anemia, severe malnutrition, dehydration, hypoglycemia, and serious complications like fluid/electrolyte imbalances. Depression is often a secondary complication of HG.
You are not alone
If you have HG, you are not alone no matter how alone you may feel. You can do this. You have what it takes. But you need help and all you can get. Ask for it. Pay for it if you can. I know it feels like you are 10 feet under (or that you’d like to be) but this too shall pass. For now, do all you can to find food you will eat and keep down. Go to ER as much as you are allowed to for hydration treatments, seek support from Facebook forums, get an “HG buddy” to trade woes with, try everything you have not yet tried. When I was pregnant, marijuana was taboo. Now I hear how it has helped many HG women feel better enough to eat and drink. Keep seeking.
When you can’t
If you find that you can’t keep being pregnant know that many of women in your boots have made the same decision. This is an important decision of the hardest kind. I thought about aborting my 2nd and 3rd baby every single day, multiple times; even of ways to end my own life. I didn’t but I was hair away from aborting. This is your decision and for those of you right now reading this judging these words….if you have not had HG, then this is not your story to jump into.
After experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum three times, I have lived and learned it inside and out and devote myself to helping others with this awful condition. Sometimes I do this by writing; other times by phone or email support. Please share this post because there is not enough help for women with HG.
If you know a woman in the throes of severe morning sickness – HELP HER. By doing so, you can stop a condition which, left to itself, can require hospitalization. Dehydration and becoming malnourished can occur after only 1-2 days of persistent vomiting. Watch for this and notify doctor. There can be underlying physical causes for severe vomiting during pregnancy, but don’t think for a minute that her vomiting is psychically based.
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