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Severe Morning Sickness During Pregnancy

Pregnant woman standing outside drinking a bottle of water.

Nausea and vomiting are common during pregnancy. It is often called “morning sickness,” but it can occur at any time of day. But severe nausea and vomiting that doesn’t let up is not normal. Dehydration and weight loss can result. This can be dangerous for the mother and baby. Hyperemesis gravidarum is the medical term for severe morning sickness during pregnancy. If you have hyperemesis gravidarum, your healthcare provider can take steps to keep you and your baby safe. He or she can also help you find relief. 

Call your healthcare provider right away if you suspect that you have hyperemesis gravidarum. The symptoms include:

  • Inability to keep down liquids

  • Nausea that is severe and lasts beyond the first few months

  • Fainting spells

What causes it?

Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are thought to be due to an increase in certain hormone levels. It is not clear what causes hyperemesis gravidarum, but it may be more likely in women carrying twins or more. Your healthcare provider will do some tests to rule out certain health conditions that may lead to severe nausea and vomiting. This does not mean anything is wrong with your baby.

To help combat nausea, eat small amounts frequently. This helps prevent the stomach from being empty, which can make nausea worse. Choose dry foods such as crackers. Try sipping cold, clear drinks. And ask your healthcare provider about taking vitamin B6 or ginger to help ease nausea. In some cases, alternative treatments such as acupuncture are effective in helping managing nausea during pregnancy.

Treating hyperemesis gravidarum

The focus of treatment for hyperemesis gravidarum is to relieve symptoms and prevent weight loss and dehydration. If you are dehydrated or losing weight, steps are needed to protect you and your baby. You will most likely be admitted to the hospital for at least a short time. There, you can be given IV fluids to rehydrate you. You may also be prescribed medicines that relieve nausea. In very severe cases, a longer hospitalization may be needed. IV nutrition or tube feeding will then be used. If this becomes necessary, your healthcare provider can tell you more.

With treatment, hyperemesis gravidarum can be managed. Follow up with your healthcare provider to be sure you are keeping down fluids and gaining a healthy amount of weight.

Call the healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Signs of dehydration, including extreme thirst, headache, little urine, very dark urine, or a dry, sticky mouth

  • Weight loss

  • Dizziness or fainting

  • Racing or pounding heart

  • Blood in your vomit

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 4/1/2019
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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