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The Low Down on Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Hyperemesis gravidarum is characterised by excessive vomiting in pregnancy. It is sometimes referred to as extreme morning sickness. Although, like morning sickness, it doesn’t just happen in the morning. Hyperemesis gravidarum affects less than two per cent of pregnant women. For those affected, it is a pretty miserable experience.

Is this hyperemesis gravidarum?

This condition can be tricky to diagnose, because there is no clear cut medical definition of what hyperemesis gravidarum is. Symptoms include:

  • Weight loss – losing five percent of your pre-pregnancy weight
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive saliva production
  • Inability to eat or drink without vomiting
  • Low blood pressure when standing up

Being correctly diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum can be tough. If you feel your doctor is dismissing your concerns, ask for a second opinion.

The exact causes of hyperemesis gravidarum are unknown, but researchers have found some women are more likely to develop the condition than others. Women who suffer from migraines or travel sickness have an increased risk. As do women carrying twins or triplets. If your mum or sister had hyperemesis gravidarum during pregnancy, you will also be more likely to suffer from this condition.

Coping with hyperemesis gravidarum:

  • Your healthcare provider may prescribe anti-sickness drugs to help prevent vomiting.
  • Some women have found acupuncture has reduced vomiting.
  • Try to rest as much as you can, because tiredness can make vomiting and nausea worse.
  • Ask your friends and family for support. You’ll need help with everyday activities, and you’ll need a friendly ear every now and again.
  • Stay hydrated by taking frequent small sips.
  • Eat whatever you can keep down.
  • Avoid foods and smells that trigger vomiting.

A minority of hyperemesis gravidarum sufferers will be admitted to hospital to receive IV fluids and medication. A hospital stay allows the doctors to fully assess and, hopefully, treat your condition.

Hyperemesis gravidarum is unlikely to harm your baby. The baby will take nutrition from your body’s stores, so do not worry too much about your diet. Focus instead on keeping things down. Women who suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum for the full forty weeks, may find that their babies have lower than average birth weights.

When will it end?

Some women find that the hyperemesis gravidarum starts to ease at around the fourteenth week of pregnancy. For most women, it will be over by week 20, and the second half of the pregnancy will be a much more enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, for up to 20 per cent of sufferers, the hyperemesis gravidarum will last right until the end of the pregnancy.


Hyperemesis gravidarum can be a relentless condition that can leave women feeling drained. Simple everyday tasks can become seemingly impossible. It can lead to depression or stress because of the frustration and isolation that come hand in hand with this condition. If your moods are being affected, speak to your healthcare provider. They will be able to advise you of local and national support groups to contact.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.

Fiona PeacockThe Low Down on Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Comments 27

  1. Pingback: Iron During Pregnancy - Health & Parenting

  2. Pingback: How to Cope With Morning Sickness - Health & Parenting

  3. Kris

    There is a really helpful support group on Facebook for hyperemesis gravidarum & gabapentin use (a medicine used to treat HG). I agree, this blog would be much more useful long before 12 weeks.

  4. Heather

    I’m 12 weeks and 5 days pregnant yes im 38, but I never had morning sickness with my 3 other children like this . I agree with some comments that I new i was pregnant by being nauseous from the get go . I conceived in Nov and all through the end of November and December ( so christmas was a joy joy) and still have it . I have lost weight and I can’t even do daily activities because I’m so sick. My husband actually has to stay and get my son on the disabled 7 year old son on the bus then goto work because I can’t. This is not fun at all. This was not all planed pregnancy but we’re happy ( except my nausea) .

  5. Sarah

    This blog needs to be a lot earlier than 12+ weeks!
    I had terrible HG with my first child. It started at 7 weeks and for most will start between 4-7 weeks into the pregnancy. It was a horrific experience and very nearly put me off having another child.
    I am blessed that this time I have gotten to 12+5 with only bad morning sickness.
    There is an amazing Facebook group in Australia for women who suffer from
    HG and an amazing foundation ‘HER Foundation’ with lots of up to date information for sufferers.

  6. Elaina

    Cassandra…..you sound exactly the same as me!! I am 36 and 12 weeks and 5 days pregnant with my third baby. I don’t feel too bad in general, but the extreme tiredness I am feeling this time round is terrible! I fall asleep before 9pm most nights, I just can’t keep my eyes open longer than that! Do you think it’s an age thing or what?? 😆💤

  7. Cassandra

    12 weeks 5days and I’m 37 third pregnancy with my husband and I’m not sick but extremely tired! I’m in bed before 9pm! I can’t wait to get my energy back!

  8. Louisa Estrada

    I have to admit for being 43 and getting pregnant after thinking I couldn’t have anymore babies other then my 15yr old I have been totally healthy with this pregnancy. Not once have I gotten morning sickness. My husband has gotten all my symptoms since day one.

  9. Lin

    For my son who is now 9, I was very nauseated for 3 weeks before finding out I was pregnant at 7 weeks. Within few days I was vomiting. Within 24 hours I was vomiting all the time couldn’t keep anything down. After 14 hours went to emergency and was put on dicletin. It helped but I had to stay on it for the whole pregnancy.

    Now I’m 12 weeks 5 days pregnant with twins. The nausea started at 3 weeks. At week 5 found out I was pregnant with twins. Was put on dicletin right away. I been so ill. By week 7-10 I was vomiting. I’m nauseated 24 hours. I’ve been bed ridden for 6 weeks almost 7. Going out is awful. Smells are so intense. I was very sad when it seemed to get worse once I started my 12 week because that’s what I read holding onto to feel better. The nausea coming very intense in waves. I’m still eating, since being pregnant with my son I’ve learnt to eat when I was well. Not a good habit but better than not getting food into me. I force myself to eat which is awful to have to do.

    This has really effected me emotionally. I’ve broken down so many times thinking I can’t do this. I just keep praying it’s going to get better.

    Good luck everyone this is a awful sickness to go through when it’s suppose be the happiest time of your life.

  10. Laura

    I’m 12weeks 4 days. I found out I was pregnant when I was around 5 weeks and for the first two weeks I felt amazing, I couldn’t eat enough. Then just after 7 weeks the vomiting started, I visited my GP three times in one week and they kept sending me away saying it will pass, I was fine and never gave me any medications. I ended up hospitalised and received seven litres of fluid via an IV drip and I have been on anti-sickness tablets ever since. Fingers crossed its slowly starting to pass as I’m now finding I can sometimes miss a tablet or take it a little later in the day than what I usually did. Keep your heads up mummies to be it will all be worth it in the end xox

  11. Stephanie Efe

    I suffered HG with my first pregnancy I lost 35 pounds it was really awful. But my practice prescribed Diclegis and it did the magic for me.Tried zofran but it never worked for me, I later found out on an ad on tv that it caused some birth defects in babies such cleft lips et al, pls ladies if you have to use it seek a Doctor ‘s advice.

  12. Rachael

    I’m currently 12 weeks and 5 days into my first pregnancy and my sickness has been HORRIBLE. I started vomiting as soon as I had concieved and I’m still vomiting now. I thought it was supposed to get better as you reach the second trimester? 😭 I have been to hospital twice but was refused iv medicine even though there were high traces of protein in my urine, and both times I hadn’t had a proper drink in over 24 hours. I was prescribed buccastem anti sickness tablets but they take a few hours to kick in! I have lost well over a stone in weight and feel totally rubbish! Im carrying a little bucket with me everywhere whenever I force myself to leave the house. It’s very embarrassing 😩 I’m not really impressed with the lack of care I received from the nhs, I feel for all of you women who are suffering this too, it’s bloody awful! Power through!!! X

  13. Laura

    I am 12 weeks and 5 days in my 3rd pregnancy. My hyperemesis gravidarum began at 5 weeks gestation, and had me hospitalized for over a week more than once. My vomiting episodes lasted between 40 minutes to an hour of straight heaving with only a few minutes inbetween episodes. I couldn’t even Sleep through the nausea. I was fainting regularly. I lost 30 pounds. After a week of IV fluids I was released and given instructions and medications. I take a daily regiment of medications to combat it. Gravol, Zofran, maxiran, and diclectin. I’m still vomiting occasionally.

    If you feel like you have this condition don’t stop until you get help! You can’t manage this condition on your own and contrary to this article, this condition in extreme cases, can lead to the loss of the pregnancy. To anyone out there suffering with this. Stay strong. You’ll get past this. Xox.

  14. Leya

    I’m 12w 5d today with my first. I got diagnosed at 5 weeks. I was in and out of the hospital every couple days up until I was 7 weeks. I was keeping absolutely nothing down. I had the worst time and found no relief up until I was 9 weeks. Its hard but I got to hear my babies heart beat and it makes all those unbearable days worth it. Stay strong mommies.

  15. Beth

    I’m 12w5d with baby #3. My first two pregnancies I was getting sick multiple times a day but luckily this time I haven’t been sick once.
    I’ve seen ads on tv about zofran causing birth defects. I’m not sure if they have changed the formula recently but if anyone is taking it please do your research. I’d hate to see something go wrong especially when the warnings are everywhere about this drug.
    Good luck everyone.

  16. Danielle

    Hi. Im currently 14 weeks 6 days. Im sick everyday. .. alot. On antisickness tablets 3 times daily and still am suck up to 10 times daily. Lack of energy is completely debilitating too. I started being sick around 4 weeks… just hoping for an end soon as truly is unbearable. Was admitted to hospital a week and half ago and was in for five days on fluids and vitamin ivs. It did help but three days after i started being sick again. Please if anyone else has been this severe can you give me advice to get through? X

  17. samia

    Hi, I’m currently 8wks and 4 days I can’t keep anything down. Smelling food make me vomited. I feel tired and my stomach hurt as well. What should I do?

  18. Simran

    I am 12 weeks 5 days pregnant.
    This is my first pregnancy. I feel sick everyday after 2 or 3 pm.
    I never vomited. Only nausea that is terrible bad. I don’t feel like to eat anything after 3 pm. Just want bed rest. Even if I try to speak that make my nausea worst. I lost 2 kg of my weight.
    Apple help me a lot to tackle with nausea.

  19. Alex

    I’m currently 12 weeks 5 days pregnant and so far it’s been 2 days and I haven’t vomited I usually throw up 2-3 times a day in the morning befor and after dinner it’s hard to eat warm foods I’ve been eating a lot of fruit and veggies and I’ve been drinking pedialyte for dehydration.

  20. Syne

    Hi im 11weeks pregnant, and i did not experience any morning sickness from the time i was notice that im pregnant.. Is it normal? But every day i feel stomachache.
    And im worried about that… 🙁

  21. Chloe

    I’m 8wks pregnant and I’m constantly being sick I’m unable to keep good down or drinks I’m always tired and just pretty much feel crap 24/7 what do I do?

  22. Tanja Ruta

    Hi, I am currently 12 weeks pregnant. It is my 8th baby. With this baby I went to a Doctor for accupuncture to help me with vomiting and it really helped. I feel sick and my blood pressure is very low, but I am vomiting every fourth day. With the second and the third baby I had no bad morning sickness, but with the other five i, sometimes I was thinking that I would die how much I was vomiting. I couldn’t stand on my feet. With the last one I got a stomach hernia, because of the vomiting. I was also in Hospital for IV. I understand all of you ,what you are going through , especially you Jessica, I didn’t know that it can be so hard. But I am also writing this that you know that it hasn’t be every time the same. This time I went for accupuncture when I was 4 weeks pregnant, because the last time it was to late. I just couldn’t walk and be driven. So, just be brave..all of my children are really a miracle and really healthy and beautiful. God bless you!

  23. jessie

    I am suffering this with my second pregnancy and i also suffered with the first. With my first pregnancy i was fobbed off that this was a normal part of pregnancy until i vomited significant amounts of blood in the doctors office and was finally admitted to hospital for tearing and dehyration. With the first i was then given cyclizine and also tried everything natural on top of that too, such as accupuncture, homeopathy, ginger, sea bands, extra rest, time off work. I was still sick at least 5 -6 times a day even with all that and bed rest from 30 weeks. granted better than hourly but still pretty stressful, painful and depressing.
    However, there is hope, at 12 weeks with my current baby i was put straight onto ondansatron (zofran) and this has made an amazing difference and i just look back and think of all the misery i went through before needlessly. If you have this problem it is worth trying. I am still sick on waking with just bile etc because its worn off overnight but if i am sick then take it and eat straight away i am feeling functional within half an hour.
    As a tip for this working, carbs like toast seem better to have with it to keep it in rather than milky cereal. I also find having pure orange juice with the tablet is better than water, i dont know why. You may also need a stool softener as it can make you constipated. I am taking lactulose syrup every other day.
    I am now 35 weeks and i have been able to keep working, i have not had a single sick day off since starting ondansatron. I have only been sick at work about 3 times. For me this has been a miracle drug and i would recommend giving it a go.

  24. Jayne

    I found that having a slim fast shake by the side of my bed helped… I noticed if my stomach got empty I would be vomiting and I was not able to get up and make food quick enough so I tried this as I was concerned by my weight loss.
    As things like complan and slim fast contain vitamins I figured if I could only keep this down then that would be better than nothing… It helped- that and anti emitics! My thoughts go out to anyone who has suffered with this debilitating condition.

  25. Jessica

    I am currently 28 weeks pregnant with my first and have been sick since the day I turned 6 weeks. Even being on zofran, phenergan, reglan, and Zantac the vomiting could not be controlled. I lost right around 30 pounds from vomiting 20-30 or more times a day. I had been in the hospital more times than I can count. One day I passed out from malnutrition and low blood pressure caused by the hyperemesis. I went to the hospital that night from not being so weak I couldn’t walk. I ended up getting a picc line with 24-7 TPN (a permanent IV with nutrition bc I couldn’t hold down anything and was completely malnourished) . With this I am homebound and cannot drive or work. About a month ago I had thrown up so much that I tore my esophagus and started vomiting nothing but blood. They put a NG tube down my nose to my stomach to suction out all of the blood and other contents of my stomach to try to ease the vomiting. I had to get two units of blood because I had lost so much. It took a week to be able to talk again and two weeks for my throat to heal. After this experience they started me on carafate along with the other meds. It has helped tremendously. I have been on the TPN for 3 months now. My vomiting has cut back to about 5-10 times a day. I still have bad days every week that I throw up a lot more. I cannot wait until the day that I have my son and be able to start feeling better.
    I feel for anyone who has even had the regular morning sickness.. But for you two percent or less who get hyperemesis my heart really goes out to you! I hate that anyone would have to experience the physical and mental effects of hyperemesis. I hope that they will be able to do research and come up with something to help us women out to keep it from effecting even the 2% that it does. I know it is the most challenging thing I have ever been through but it is more than worth it to get to have my little man. I’d do it all over again.

  26. Emma

    I am now in wk 31 and still suffering with occasional sickness and constant nausea despite being on strong anti sickness tablets. I haven’t been able to work since being 6wks pregnant due to this debilitating illness. Thankfully I found support from pregnancy sickness support website and a lot of help from family and friends. This is my 3rd pregnancy and it has got worse each time. I had over three wks of hospital admissions before they have me the holy grail of drugs being ondansetron (also used by chemotherapy patients) and metoclopramide. And even then with these I was still very ill and unable to look after myself let alone my two children. A lot of drs and midwives play down this illness but it can be fatal anyone unable to eat or drink needs to seek medical help and fight for it. Do not be put off by ignorant healthcare professionals (of which there seem to be rather a lot). Good luck to anyone suffering from this and look at the PSS website.

  27. Heather Ronson

    As a HG suffer I can relate to the deep depression that comes with it. It’s a very hard time and people find it hard to understand it. I’m currently 21 weeks now and I am finding it a lot easier but the sickness is still there. I’ve had 6 admissions into hospital and lost 3 stone in weight. My heart goes out to any other suffers as it really isn’t a nice experience xx