Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Many pregnant women have some
nausea and sometimes vomiting in the first trimester. This is called morning sickness.
Symptoms are often more severe in the morning. But nausea and vomiting with pregnancy
can happen at any time of the day. Some women may feel sick throughout the

A few pregnant women have a severe
kind of nausea and vomiting called hyperemesis gravidarum. With this condition, nausea
and vomiting may be all day long. These women often lose weight, and get dehydrated.
They may also have changes in the body’s chemical processes.

How to say it:

hi-per-EHM-uh-sihs grav-ih-DAR-uhm

Healthcare providers don’t know what causes hyperemesis gravidarum. It may be related
to pregnancy hormones. 

The condition is more common in women who are pregnant with twins or more. It’s also
more common in women with migraines. Women with a family history of the condition
or who had the condition in a past pregnancy are more likely to have it with future

These are the most common symptoms:

  • Constant nausea, especially during the first trimester
  • Vomiting after eating or drinking
  • Vomiting not linked to eating
  • Weight loss. This is especially true
    if it is 5% or more of what you weighed before pregnancy.
  • Signs of fluid loss (dehydration).
    These include dry mouth, thirst, small amounts of dark urine, and feeling

The symptoms may look like other health conditions. Always see your healthcare provider
for a diagnosis.

Your healthcare provider will
review your health history and do a physical exam. They will also look for other signs,
such as weight loss and dehydration. Blood tests can check for too little or too much
the body’s minerals (electrolytes).

Treatment aims to:

  • Ease nausea and vomiting
  • Replace fluids and electrolytes
  • Improve nutrition and weight gain

You will likely need to stay in the
hospital. All food and drink are stopped for a short time (temporarily). This gives
digestive tract a rest. You will often need IV (intravenous) fluids to replace fluids
you have lost. The IV fluids also fix problems with minerals (electrolytes) in your
body. You may need a sedative and anti-vomiting medicine. If other treatments don’t
work, you may need steroids or tube feedings.

The condition can lead to:

  • Fluid and electrolyte problems
  • Poor nutrition
  • Liver damage and yellowing of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes (jaundice)
  • B vitamin (thiamine) deficiency  
  • Poor growth of the developing baby
  • This condition is a severe form of
    nausea and vomiting of pregnancy that affects a small number of women.
  • Nausea and vomiting may be constant.
    You may lose weight, get dehydrated, and have changes in the body’s chemicals
  • The cause may be linked to pregnancy
  • It is more common in women who are pregnant with twins or more,
    and in women with migraines.
  • You may need to stay in the hospital
    for treatment. You will often need IV fluids to replace fluids you have lost.

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells
  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments,
    or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also
    know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that
  • Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.