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Surviving Hyperemesis Gravidarum

HG pregnancy Hyperemesis

For most women, seeing the two little blue lines show up on a pregnancy test is the most wonderful feeling. Their heart fills with excitement. All the future joys of pregnancy and parenthood lay before them. Many describe it as the best time of their lives. However, not all pregnancies are happy times. For women diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, pregnancy is hard. It's a long, rough road filled with emergency room visits, medications, and tons of IV fluids.

What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

The term Hyperemesis Gravidarum (also called HG) literally means lots of vomiting during pregnancy. Here's how this Latin phrase breaks down:
  • Hyper - an excessive amount
  • Emesis- vomitting
  • Gravidarum- related to pregnant women
Here's an in-depth explanation of HG from the Help HER foundation: 
Hyperemesis gravidarum (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. If severe and/or inadequately treated, it is typically associated with:
  • loss of greater than 5% of pre-pregnancy body weight (usually over 10%)
  • dehydration and production of ketones
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • metabolic imbalances
  • difficulty with daily activities
Very little is known about this condition. The medical world has just begun researching possible causes and treatments. Hopefully,

What Hyperemesis Gravidarum is not...

Morning sickness can feel awful but it is not the same HG. Trying to compare severe morning sickness to Hyperemesis is like comparing a corvette to a speed boat. They are in two completely different categories. 

Morning sickness usually only lingers for the first 14 weeks of pregnancy (unlike HG which can last for the duration of the pregnancy). It’s not unusual to lose a few pounds due to morning sickness. However, losing more than 3 pounds every week is much more concerning.

If you're going through a touHG pregnancy right now, I want you to know you are not alone. There is a wonderful community of women who are willing to fight for you both medically and in their prayers. You can find them at HG Before, During And The Aftermath.

Now that we've established what Hyperemesis Gravidarum is, we can move on my top survival tips.



HG Survival Tips

When you're in the midst of hyperemsis, it literally feels like a fight for survival. Not only are you fighting for you but for your unborn child. Here are a few things I've learned through my 3 HG pregnancies.

Be Your Own Advocate

The person that knows your body best is you. Others can only see your outward appearance and watch the numbers on the scale. When you're suffering it's easy to take a back seat and let others care for you, but with HG, that's not an option. A resource I found super helpful is the HG severity index test put together by the Help HER Foundation. 

This test asks you questions about how your feeling and your treatments. At the end of the assessment you are given a score and suggestions on whether your care is adequate or you need more help. The test is available as a pdf download or online interactive survey on the Survival Guides and Downloads page.

So little is known about this condition that many doctors don't treat it whatsoever. They simply wait till after 14 weeks and hope it goes away. There are treatments that will help, but it will often be up to you to push for them. The Help HER Foundation has a very helpful section on treatments.

Speaking of Doctors...

Don't Be Afraid to Request a New Physician.

If your doctor, midwife, nurse, etc. isn't fulfilling their part of the bargain, fire them. Medical staff are there to assist you, the patient. For example, my OBGYN office is a group of physicians. One particular doctor was very rude and condescending, so we politely asked another staff member to make a note that we do not wish to see said doctor again.

Get help hg pregnancy hyperemesis

Ask For Help

It's okay to need help. If you have family or close friends nearby, let them help you in your time of need. Ask them to pick up a few groceries, drive you to an appointment, or entertain your other children. Many times those that are close to us want to help but don't know how. 

If you don't have anyone nearby, reach out in the HG community or find a support volunteer through the Help HER Foundation. Hyperemesis is tough, but going through it alone is worse. 

Focus on Surviving This Minute

I can't tell you how many times I was reminded to focus on how joyous it is to have a newborn. Don't get me wrong. Keeping your eyes on the prize is essential. HG is not a sprint. It's a marathon. You'll need endurance.

The best advice I have is to take it one moment at a time. Don't fret over the weeks or months ahead. That will only make things worse. When your present moment is awful, assure yourself that a new moment is just around the corner. 

Filtering Comments

Communication is a complicated beast. At times, even the most loving and articulate person can end up saying a hurtful remark without even realizing. A well-meaning friend may ask if you've tried ginger or saltines. In the HG community, we call this being "crackered". If you're suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, the conventional remedies for morning sickness don't make HG magically disappear. That doesn't stop people from recommending them to you. 

Most of the time, people are genuinely trying to help. They may be trying to instill a little more hope in you or offer you some friendly advice. In these instances, it's best to take remarks with a grain of salt. If you're feeling hurt, take a moment to analyze whether it's their words or the HG hurting you. 

Often I would feel sad or angry after comments like these. Time and time again, I was left feeling hurt. What hurt was that my hyperemesis wasn't yielding to anything I tried. I felt the pain of disappointment each time a suggested remedy failed. So, when comments leave you feeling hurt ask yourself whether it was the remark or HG that hurt.

Don't Fret Over an Unbalanced Diet

Under normal circumstances, eating a healthy diet during pregnancy is paramount as well as taking a good prenatal vitamin, but HG isn't normal. It's impossible to eat a well balanced diet with hyperemesis gravidarum. 

My mother also suffered from HG, and she tells me stories about living on tostadas from taco bell and coka cola with ice. I myself survived on ramen noodles and coffee this last pregnancy. In the throws of hyperemesis, you eat what stays down- your safe foods. 

Safe foods can change from day to day. My advice is to follow your cravings. Sometimes it will stay down- sometimes not, but it's important to keep trying. (Thanks Mom 💖)

HG meme hyperemesis meme

This Too Shall Pass

I hope these tips help you through your or a loved one's HG journey. It's a long bumpy road, but it really is worth it in the end. That beautiful baby is the best trophy of all! Please leave a comment of encouragement or your own HG tip for other mommas in the comments below. ⇩

P.S. Stay tuned for a post on my HG recovery process.

Traditional Mom

About Shannon Walter -

Wife, Mommy, and Writer are three of the hats Shannon wears on a daily basis. Natural and holistic wellness is her passion. Diving into medical studies, reading long-winded books, and refitting them into information that is valuable to everyday life.

2 comments

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January 14, 2019 at 12:59 PM delete

I am proud of you . It was not easy I’m sure to write your story . Thank you for also mentioning my organization, it means the world to me . Keep sharing , you got a voice , I see it ! Do not let anyone ever tell you differently.

Hugs doll ,
Starr Andrews Strong HG Activist
HG Fairy ��‍♂️ Godmother
Hyperemesis Gravidarum before during and the aftermath

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