Hyperemesis versus ‘Morning’ Sickness. So-called ‘Morning’ sickness is estimated to affect up to 85% of women, however, generally throughout the day, rather than being isolated to the morning as its name would imply. Pregnancy related nausea and vomiting is generally fairly mild, and tends to cease around 14 weeks gestation. However, it may extend past 20 weeks in some women.
Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe form of common pregnancy nausea and vomiting. It is not clearly known why some women experience hyperemesis, however, it has been linked with human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (HCG)- with studies showing that symptoms are often worse when the HCG is at its peak level. Increased hormone levels, particularly estrogen, have also been proposed as the cause of hyperemesis. Studies have also shown (as rumours have it), that severe nausea and vomiting are in fact related to being pregnant with a female baby.
How does it affect you?
The condition has significant adverse outcomes; including weight loss, nutritional deficiency, dehydration and hospitalisation. If you suffer with hyperemesis, there are clearly going to be other secondary negative impacts. The often debilitating effects of hyperemesis can include time off work and subsequent loss of income, difficulty caring for other children and completing tasks like housework. These secondary effects can sometimes lead to depression and feelings of resentment. It is important to enlist as much support from those around you as you can to help with these tasks, and not to feel as though you need to keep up as you did pre-pregnancy.
What can you do?
The most crucial factor with hyperemesis is to keep hydrated and avoid dehydration. If fluids cannot be tolerated, admission to hospital will be required, where fluids can be gained intravenously.
- Drink small amounts of fluid often.
- Alternatives to water are often more tolerable, e.g. flat lemonade, sports drinks, and weak cordial.
- Eat small amounts of food often- rather than large portions, and avoid having an empty stomach
- Salty foods can be helpful
- Avoid fatty, rich and spicy foods
- Vitamin B6 and Ginger can also help alleviate nausea
- Utilise your ‘best time’ of day, eating when you feel well and hungry
- If hot food makes you feel ill, try cold instead. Where possible, avoid cooking and ask for help from friends and family.
Acupuncture/acupressure- what is it and can it help? Acupuncture is the manipulation of needles into various acupuncture points for therapeutic purposes, particularly pain relief.Various studies have demonstrated relief from pregnancy related nausea using acupressure and acupuncture. There are varied opinions and responses with regards to acupuncture, however, if you feel it is something you would like to try, we recommend the practitioners in the next column.
A well-known acupuncture point called Pericadium 6 is known to help relieve symptoms of nausea and vomiting. It is located in the middle of your inner wrist, about three finger widths from the wrist crease- between the two tendons. Press on this area firmly, or if possible, have a support person hold both at the same time, for around 3 minutes. The most important thing to remember if you are experiencing severe pregnancy related illness is to keep hydrated, and if fluids cannot be tolerated, you will need to be hospitalised for intravenous fluids.
For more information on you can visit MotherSafe website and download their Fact Sheet – Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy. You can also talk to Penny or Dr Morris at your next appointment if you need help managing any symptoms.
Source: Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists