You may have been hearing the words “hyperemesis gravidarum” more than a lot lately, thanks to one very royal pregnancy. Kate Middleton is expecting again, and — like with her other pregnancies — she has hyperemesis gravidarum. Rocking a queasy tummy along with all the other pregnancy symptoms isn’t exactly out of the norm, but Middleton’s goes way beyond typical morning sickness. Whether you’re on (or trying for) your first pregnancy or adding to your brood, here’s what you need to know about this condition.
1. Weight Loss: Sure, morning sickness is annoying: It’s totally obnoxious to vomit a few times a day. But hyperemesis gravidarum is a beast of a different sort. Instead of gaining weight (like pregnant people should), women with this condition actually lose it, according to OB/GYN and maternal fetal medicine physician Dr. Kecia Gaither. The weight loss can be significant — Dr. Gaither notes that it’s “on average a 10-20+ pound weight loss.”
2. Nausea Plus: That rocky, seasick feeling you have with regular morning sickness goes on steroids with hyperemesis gravidarum. With this condition, Dr. Gaither says, you can have “protracted nausea and vomiting — the inability to keep solids and liquids down over a number of days to weeks.”
3. Long-Term Symptoms: For most people, morning sickness waves a fond farewell after the first trimester. The same can’t be said for its wicked cousin hyperemesis gravidarum. The nausea and vomiting experienced with this condition can last for your whole pregnancy: Yes, that’s all three trimesters.
4. Dehydration Dilemma: One of the major dangers of hyperemesis gravidarum is dehydration. If you aren’t keeping liquids down, your body can’t hydrate itself. Dr. Gaither explains that this condition can result in electrolyte abnormalities as well as vitamin deficiencies.
5. Hospitalization Happens: You may remember news reports of the Duchess of Cambridge being treated in the hospital for dehydration and related issues. While hyperemesis gravidarum doesn’t equal a hospital stay in every case, some women who are suffering serious effects from the condition will need inpatient treatment. “Hospitalization is recommended with unrelenting nausea and vomiting, dehydration, marked weight loss, electrolyte abnormalities, nervous system dysfunction, and when evidence of renal/liver impairment are present,” Dr. Gaither tells us.
6. At-Home Remedies: If, and only if, your medical provider says it’s okay to hang at home, relax, and see how it goes, you can try eating unsalted crackers, soups/broths, or ginger tea. These are easy on your stomach and may provide some relief. Never attempt to medicate yourself when you’re experiencing this upgraded form of morning sickness — whether it’s naturally (meaning herbal supplements) or via anything else. Hyperemesis gravidarum is serious business and requires a medical provider’s help and supervision.
7. Doctor’s Orders: When the nausea and vomiting won’t stop and nothing helps, Dr. Gaither recommends seeking medical attention ASAP. If you’re holding back because you would rather not check in to the hospital, don’t worry. It’s possible that your doctor will prescribe an antiemetic drug (these help to stop nausea and vomiting) before recommending hospitalization. You’ll only go to inpatient care if it’s really needed to ensure the safety of yourself and your baby — in which case you really don’t want to be waiting things out at home.
Have you had morning sickness? What helped you to feel better? Tweet us your helpful hint @BritandCo!
(Featured photo via Chris Jackson/Getty, photo via Getty)