Unfortunately, if you are familiar with this diagnosis, you probably have either experienced it for yourself, or know someone who has. Lately it has gotten more attention in the media as celebrities, such as Amy Schumer, have shared their experience with it. Even as a doula, I truly did not understand the seriousness of this condition until my daughter developed it.
HG, as the condition is abbreviated is DEBILITATING.
A severe form of nausea and vomiting, HG is much worse than morning sickness. It can cause you to have nausea or vomiting all day for days on end that results in dehydration, possible malnutrition, and weight loss.
A momma with HG spends days/weeks/months trying to function without being able to eat or drink anything without drowning in nausea or throwing it all up.
The causes of this condition are not known but some guesses are that changes in hormones in the body, changes in the gastrointestinal system, or inherited conditions could be contributing factors. It is usually diagnosed in the emergency room, where pregnant mommas who are dehydrated and exhausted from vomiting, find themselves.
It can be a process and take several trips to a provider to be formally diagnosed. It can be frustrating as most protocols have to start with IV fluids and advice like, “just take small sips and eat crackers before you get out of bed” before you finally get medicine on your second, or third visit. Then the process of finding a medication that works, agonizing how this medication might affect your baby, feeling despair when it doesn’t help, returning to the ER because you haven’t kept anything down for three days, etc….
What can you do?
If you are pregnant, and you are suffering, DO NOT WAIT. See your provider, or visit the ER – I would suggest a weekday in the morning. Keep going until something works. You will at least be getting the fluids you need through the IV.
HYDRATION is the most important thing right now.
Take “sissy” sips. That is, take enough of a sip to wet your mouth, but no more. This will have you drinking more frequently, but will not send a torrent of liquid into your very sensitive stomach. Sometimes starting with a liquid diet, and then introducing plain, bland foods (such as the BRAT diet of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) one at a time is helpful. Incorporate bone broth if possible, but ultimately any fluid you can keep down – bonus points for electrolytes! is what you should drink.
Rest. This can be difficult, especially if you have other children, but laying down can help the nausea.
IGNORE THE BAD ADVICE. Everyone will want to “help” you by suggesting what helped them combat morning sickness. Most of the time, these well meaning friends and relatives have never experienced HG! They have no idea what it is truly like, and you can let whatever they tell you – which you have probably already tried anyway – go in one ear and out the other!
ASK FOR HELP. There is no shame in letting your house go, in letting your kids watch hours of TV, in ordering pizza for your family…you get the picture. Your main job, right now, is keeping yourself, and your growing baby (which may feel like an alien eating you from the inside out right now!) as healthy as possible.
TALK. Talk to your doula, your mom, your friends, or anyone else who is compassionate and understanding. If your needs are not being met, try to articulate them. Most people want to help, they just don’t know what to do.
The good new is, Hyperemesis Gravidarum will end. Many moms experience improvement as their pregnancy moves forward, and everyone experiences an end when they finally hold their sweet little one in their arms!
Prayers and blessings to everyone suffering with this difficult diagnosis –
I SEE YOU.
YOU ARE A WARRIOR.