About Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is a complication of pregnancy in which women experience extreme levels of nausea and vomiting. Unlike regular ‘morning sickness’, which is considered a normal or even welcome sign of early pregnancy, HG is not at all normal. Regular pregnancy sickness affects around 70-80% of pregnant women, and often goes away after the first trimester. HG is a far more severe condition and can be potentially life threatening if left untreated.
The hardest, and most challenging, part of Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy (NVP) and HG are dehydration and malnutrition. Women with HG may find themselves admitted to hospital for treatment and to prevent their condition from worsening. Many more women need to take extended periods of time off work to manage their nausea and vomiting. This can result in loss of income, if not total loss of employment, making an already stressful situation much worse. There are a number of different physical effects of prolonged vomiting, and inadequate eating and drinking, and can include esophageal tearing, ulcers, reflux, weight-loss, exhaustion, constipation and many more.
Living with severe levels of nausea and vomiting has a profoundly negative impact on a person’s health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally. There is still widespread ignorance of HG and lack of understanding for women with the condition. Stigma surrounds the use of medication in pregnancy - a vital option for many sufferers - leading to guilt, shame and prolonged physical suffering for women who are refused treatment.
HG can be an incredibly isolating condition: many women are left bedridden or, at least, housebound for months on end. Add the shame and guilt from seeking treatment, missing work or neglecting chores to the disbelief many women face from friends and family, and the physical and mental strain of this situation can take a toll. The effects may even be felt for months after birth.
In severe cases of HG, women can be sick up to 50 times a day