Nausea and vomiting are common in pregnancy, especially in the first trimester – this is usually referred to as morning sickness. A small number of pregnant women experience excessive nausea and vomiting. This condition is known as ‘hyperemesis gravidarum’ and often needs hospital treatment. You might not have heard of this before until Kate Middleton (The Duchess of Cambridge) made the headlines in 2014.

Excessive vomiting in pregnancy is much worse than the nausea and vomiting of morning sickness. Symptoms usually start between 5 and 10 weeks of pregnancy and usually resolve by around 20 weeks. Signs and symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum include:

  • prolonged and severe nausea and vomiting
  • dehydration
  • ketosis — a serious condition that is caused by a raised number of ketones in the blood and urine (ketones are poisonous acidic chemicals that are produced when your body breaks down fat, rather than glucose, for energy)
  • weight loss
  • low blood pressure (hypotension) when standing up
  • headaches, confusion, fainting and jaundice

The nausea and vomiting are usually so severe that it’s impossible to keep any fluids down, and this can cause dehydration and weight loss. Dehydration is when you don’t have enough fluids in your body.

Hyperemesis gravidarum is very unpleasant with dramatic symptoms, but the good news is it’s unlikely to harm your baby. However, if it causes you to lose weight during pregnancy there is an increased risk that your baby may be born smaller than expected.

Mild cases of hyperemesis gravidarum may be controlled with a change in diet, rest and antacids. Severe cases may need specialist treatment, and you may need to be admitted to hospital so that your Obstetrician can assess your condition and give you the right treatment. This can include intravenous fluids given through a drip to treat the ketosis and treatment to stop the vomiting.

If you experience these symptoms during pregnancy, Dr Samina is here to help and as a mother has experienced these things as well, so understands what a pregnant woman is going through. If you have any questions, please contact our rooms or via email: