Severe morning sickness
Morning sickness can often be first sign that you’re pregnant – and despite its name, can actually happen any time of day or night.
At a glance
- Severe morning sickness is also know as Hyperemesis Gravidarum
- It's not nice, but it is not harmful to mum or baby
- You may need to be hospitalised to help your body rehydrate
Most mums-to-be experience morning sickness in their first trimester. It's not nice, but it is not harmful to mum (or baby), and it doesn't usually stop women going about their day-to-day business.
Rarely though, it can become very severe and excessive, leaving mum not just nauseas, but totally unable to keep down any food or water and feeling completely wiped out and exhausted. This is known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum, and it often requires hospital treatment. Avoiding dehydration can help to reduce the chance of severe morning sickness.
What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
If you develop Hyperemesis Gravidarum, you can end up dehydrated and suffering weight loss from the prolonged episodes of nausea and vomiting the condition causes. There is also the chance of your body going in to a state of ketosis, which is 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.
What will happen
Doctors usually decide to hospitalise women suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum so they can rehydrate them intravenously, and dispense medication to treat the sickness. IV fluids which contain electrolytes, not calories, are given in hospital to treat HG and even if a woman still does not manage to eat initially, adequate hydration significantly reduces the levels of ketones in the urine.
This does not necessarily mean they will stay in hospital overnight as many UK units try to treat women as a short stay case/outpatient and administer some IV fluids and antiemetics with the hope of sending them home the same day.
Although Hyperemesis Gravidarum is exhausting for any mum-to-be to experience, it is unlikely to harm the unborn baby, unless the woman loses a lot of weight from all the sickness – then, her baby could be born smaller than it should be for its dates.
If you are being sick for prolonged periods, for example, several times a day for more than three days, and cannot keep down food or water, you should speak to your GP or midwife for advice.
Women going through Hyperemesis Gravidarum, or struggling generally with morning sickness can also speak to the Pregnancy Sickness Support charity, which offers both telephone and online help.