When It’s More Than Morning Sickness | Hyperemesis Gravidarum


HyperemesisGravidarumSnapshot One: I looked in the mirror as I slid on a pair of size-zero Gap khaki capris.  I was nearly six months pregnant with my first baby and my gaunt frame was still shrinking.  At this point I had lost almost 17 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight.  The scary part was, I didn’t have 17 pounds to lose.  The months of sickness were taking their toll. What should of been a beautiful pregnancy glow was a nasty shade of green that I couldn’t seem to shake.

Snapshot Two: Second time around and four months along, I lay in the hospital bed getting pumped with fluids.  This pregnancy I had avoided the massive weight loss and had only shrunk down a few pounds from my starting point.  I was thankful that in the time between baby number one and baby number two, treatment options had expanded and the miracle of Zofran seemed to be helping.  The trouble was, at the time there was no Zofran generic and it was nearly a thousand dollars for twelve pills! My insurance company had rationed me to 24 pills a month, when I should have been taking four a day.  My best efforts to stay fed and hydrated were failing, thus a few hospital stints. (Side note: Doesn’t seem like a smart financial decision on the insurance companys’ part to me…weird since health insurance is usually such a fiscally logical industry. Just sayin’.)

These are just two snapshots into the three pregnancies that totaled 27 of the longest months of my life.  As you can imagine I got plenty of advice to ease my “morning sickness.”  Saltine crackers (barf), ginger (didn’t help a lick), peppermint (nope), motion sickness bands (pretty much a joke.)  I knew that this severe reaction to pregnancy ran in my family.  I knew that they had survived it, and even though it didn’t feel like it, I figured I would survive too.

What I didn’t know is that what I was suffering from wasn’t morning sickness.  In fact it had a name, Hyperemesis Gravidarum, or HG. 

Recently, the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middelton, brought some attention to this condition- even though most media channels described it as severe morning sickness.

HG is not morning sickness. 

The medial definition of HG is: a severe form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. It is generally described as unrelenting, excessive pregnancy-related nausea and/or vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids.  Over the years when friends asked me, I would explain that it is like your body is allergic to being pregnant.  In addition to the debilitating nausea, there were many other nasty symptoms- my personal favorite was hyperptyalism, the one where I got to carry a “spit cup” around for two months.

HG, is not widely understood among medical professionals. Nor are the risks to both mother and baby. However, I was able to find several helpful resources that offered support and education.  My favorite was helpher.org.  If you have any history of this in your family, or if you have symptoms that feel much worse than what most would describe as morning sickness, I encourage you to do your research.  Without proper treatment there are immediate and long term affects that could affect you and/or your baby.

Looking back, of course it was all worth it.

***Noelle is a mother who suffered with HG, but she is not a medically-trained professional. This post is a personal essay and not to be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor if you have concerns about your morning sickness.


  1. For both of my pregnancies too! No relief until the day after I delivered both babies. Hospitalized with baby #1 and had a Home health nurse that had me hooked up to an IV with cases of fluids by my bedside for baby #2. I also have damage to my esophagus. I had other complications not related to this with both as well. Pregnancy did not agree with me at all BUT am blessed to have two healthy children!

  2. HG is horrible! It was the worst time of my life and I did it twice. I would vomit up to 17 times a day. I was in the hospital for weeks with both pregnancies and on Zofran and Reglan IV and oral (every 4-6 hours) which didn’t help. Finally, droperidol IV drip for 72 hours helped. After I stopped vomiting at 16 weeks the nausea was worse. I could control some of the nausea by eating every 2 hours. Needless to say I only ate junk food and gained 80 and 90 lbs with the pregnancies. I was depressed and angry the whole time. I wanted more children, but I could never handle another pregnancy. I now get motion sickness (especially while flying) all the time.

  3. One of the most common symptoms of being pregnant is nausea. However, the very first sign that can be noticed is the tenderness of the breast and the absence of a menstrual period of a woman. Nausea comes after that. On the early part of the pregnancy, right even before the woman knows that she is pregnant, nausea can be experienced. Generally speaking, nausea start after a month of having the last period.


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