What you need to know about severe morning sickness (hyperemesis gravidarum)

More than just feeling queasy, here’s what you need to know about severe morning sickness and how it can affect you

What is hyperemesis gravidarum and how can it affect me?

Severe morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum, can he harmful, check out this guide on what you need to know

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A small percentage of mums-to-be, of which The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton was one, suffer terrible sickness during pregnancy, that not only can be tough to bear but can be potentially harmful to you.

Known as hyperemesis gravidarum, this condition is much worse than usual morning sickness. Causing relentless nausea and vomiting, it can often result in hospital treatment. But if you're being sick all the time and can't keep food or drinks down, it is important to tell your midwife or doctor as soon as possible.


The symptoms not only make your life a misery but may lead to further health problems including:

  • Dehydration – because you’re struggling to keep fluids down 
  • Ketosis - where raised levels of ketones are found in the blood and urine. Ketones are produced when your body starts breaking down fat, rather than glucose for energy, and as a result, causes even more weight loss.
  • Weight loss
  • Depression 


It’s sometimes suggested but not proven, that a lack of vitamin B6 in your diet may cause hyperemesis gravidarum. You get vitamin B6 in a lot of foods, including cereals, wholemeal bread, cod, potatoes, milk and bananas. Doctors may prescribe a Vitamin B supplement, although there is inconsistent evidence on its use to treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, so they are more likely to prescribe anti-sickness drugs (anti-emetics) and steroids). High levels of B6 can cause pyridoxine neuropathy so if you are considering taking this supplement then do talk to your doctor first as most vitamins that help with pregnancy already contain vitamin B and so you might not need a separate supplement.

Treating hyperemesis gravidarum in hospital

Unlike morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum might need specialist treatment in hospital. This can include being given intravenous fluids through a drip to treat the ketosis.

Your healthy baby

Hyperemesis gravidarum can be truly unpleasant, but the good news is it's unlikely to harm your baby. That said, if you lose a lot of weight, there’s a risk your baby’s growth may be affected, so make sure you get all the help you can to manage the symptoms.

Pregnancy Sickness Support is a charity that offers advice and support to help women cope with morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum. 
Tel: 0247 638 2020 Monday – Friday 9am-4.30pm.

What you need to know about severe morning sickness (hyperemesis gravidarum)