Pregnancy is an exciting and fascinating thing in a woman’s life. The idea of carrying, nurturing and eventually giving life to a little human being is utterly thought-provoking. However, it is not like what you see in the movies and read about in magazines. Pregnancy also comes with a lot of difficulties in addition to the good; Morning Sickness, weight gain, swelling of the feet, bladder difficulties and lots more. Each woman is unique and as such, each woman will experience a different set of symptoms. With the recent announcement of Britain’s Royal Family’s expectation of a new heir on the way, even the Duchess of Cambridge is also currently having her share of symptoms associated with her third pregnancy.

However, one of the most common symptoms is Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Here’s a look at what exactly is this condition, the effects of it on a mother-to-be and how it can be managed.

What is it?

Simply put, hyperemesis gravidarum is a condition that is associated with pregnancy which involves nausea, vomiting, weight loss and electrolyte disturbance. This is what we commonly call morning sickness. The condition is caused by a rise in hormone levels during pregnancy and usually appears between four and six weeks of pregnancy and it can peak again between nine and 13 weeks. Usually, after this period, most women will experience a decline in this symptom but for approximately 20 percent of women, they require hospitalization due to the severity of it.

There is no known cure for hyperemesis gravidarum, but you can take solace in the fact that there is a regime in place to manage the condition and ensure that both mother and fetus are not gravely affected.

The effects

As stated before, hyperemesis gravidarum can cause severe vomiting and electrolyte depletion leading to dehydration which can affect the development of the fetus.

At each trimester of pregnancy, the mother-to-be is supposed to be at a certain weight as the baby continues to develop. As such, a bout of weight loss can also hinder the development of the fetus and lead to malnutrition in the mother. Constant vomiting as seen in the 20 percent of women who are hospitalized for this condition can develop gastrointestinal problems in which the lining of the stomach can be adversely affected by gastric acid; leading to ulcers.

In the same light, nutrition is exceedingly important for mother-to-be and fetus. With frequent bouts of nausea and the inability to hold onto food as normal, the nutritional status of both beings can be negatively impacted.

Management of hyperemesis gravidarum

In severe cases, the mother-to-be is usually admitted to the hospital in which she is given intravenous fluid to re-hydrate her as well as anti-nausea medication which can be given in pill form, usually vitamin B6, 25 mg thrice daily. For those whose symptoms are not entirely grave, they can manage it with simple dietary guidelines. These include consuming adequate liquids throughout the day, avoiding odors that may aggravate nausea, avoiding high fat and greasy foods as they delay gastric emptying and cause a nauseous feeling, eating dry foods before rising from bed such as crackers or dried bread and avoiding highly spiced foods if this exacerbates nausea.

The good thing about hyperemesis gravidarum, it usually goes away at the end of the first trimester. Dr. James Lui, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, UH Cleveland Medical Center says, “The first 12 weeks of the pregnancy is the most common time we see this.” With the management regime, once it is adhered too, transitioning into the second trimester should not be as difficult.