When Morning Sickness Takes Over
Surviving hyperemesis gravidarum
Treating and Living with HG
Women with HG respond differently to various treatments, so there is no single effective regimen for all sufferers. HER Foundation founder, registered nurse, and HG survivor Kimber MacGibbon says there are several treatments for HG, usually done in the following order:
- Eat small frequent meals to avoid having an empty stomach. Eat dry crackers, toast, or cereal before getting out of bed or when feeling nauseous.
- Drink lots of water between meals but not much during meals. Wait at least 30 minutes after eating before drinking fluids.
- Eat foods that are easy to digest such as toast, crackers, bagels, cereals, rice, pasta, and potatoes.
- Eat lean protein like chicken, turkey or low-fat dairy products as protein may help decrease the nausea. Try eating protein with snacks too.
- Avoid greasy or spicy foods if they bring on nausea, and avoid strong smelling foods.
Keep a diary of when vomiting occurs and anything that triggers it, such as certain foods, odors, activities, or places. This information can help both you and your doctor.
- If severe dehydration occurs, intravenous liquids may be given in the hospital, clinic or at home.
- Many doctors prefer not to give medicines during pregnancy, however when a woman has HG the risk of using certain medicines is much less than the risk of malnutrition and significant weight loss.
Paula learned as much as she could about her condition and tried all the standard suggestions to combat morning sickness but found that only a few things helped, and even then not all that much: lemon drops, peppermints, ice cold water and lemonade, always keeping food in her stomach, and eating protein with every meal and snack.
“For the first week or so, I was nauseated but had no vomiting. I thought that if I could probably survive if it didn’t get any worse”, says Paula. But things did get worse, and Paula started vomiting up everything she ate or drank and began losing weight.
Paula’s obstetrician was sympathetic but didn’t offer much in the way of help—he simply reassured her that extreme morning sickness was to be expected with a twin pregnancy and that her body would make sure her babies were taken care of. She was then sent on her way with some B6 vitamins and a “hang in there.”
Unfortunately this reaction from medical staff and healthcare professionals is not uncommon. Even those healthcare professionals who are aware of the seriousness of HG will often treat it with older medications with a history of safe usage rather than those newer medications which might do more to relieve the symptoms but which don’t have a long-standing track record.
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