By Reem Abdulrahman Jassim al-Muftah
A lot of people assume that pregnant women deal with morning sickness only during the early hours of the day and that it lasts for only the first 3-4 months of pregnancy but boy are they wrong! The standard meaning of morning sickness is general nausea and mild vomiting lasting an average of about three months, does not cause dehydration or malnutrition and is not limited to only the morning hours. Morning sickness is still definitely uncomfortable and can cause fatigue and slight loss of appetite unlike hyperemesis gravidarum.
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is the extreme version of morning sickness causing severe nausea and severe vomiting leading to dehydration, malnutrition and the inability to complete simple daily tasks. What happens is that women suffering from this unlucky condition are unable to keep any food or fluids down. This is why the biggest worry with HG is poor weight gain during the pregnancy potentially leading to low birth weight. Consequentially, HG can debilitate women and prevent them from going about their daily tasks or even working.
Data shows that 50% of women diagnosed with HG deal with it only during their first trimester, as is the case with morning sickness, but the other 50% deal with it for their entire pregnancy. Can you imagine. I dealt with HG during my entire pregnancy with my first child and I am currently battling it again with my second pregnancy. If you are unsure if you have this condition, here is a list of the most common symptoms to help you self-diagnose: constant nausea leading to loss of appetite and dehydration, vomiting more than 3-4 times a day, fatigue and/or light-headedness, losing more than 5% of your body weight due to severe vomiting, not gaining it back and the inability to perform daily tasks.
Not all women experience morning sickness and only some experience hyperemesis gravidarum and there is no real answer in terms of reasons to why this happens to some women. When it comes to treatment it gets really tricky, the first line of defense is trying to naturally prevent nausea by drinking the highly recommended ginger and mint teas, eating dry foods, drinking lots of fluids and taking Vitamin B6. The same recommendations are applicable morning sickness too. When it comes to the more severe cases of HG, some women need to visit the hospital to get rehydrated and replenished with the necessary nutrients via an IV while some may even have to be hospitalised if they have had really poor weight-gain and are dealing with consistent, severe dehydration. For the extreme cases, some physicians will prescribe common anti-nausea medication and for the more worrying cases may prescribe stronger meds that may be harmful to the baby. This is where I would like to jump in and emphasise that this should be the last line of defense if the mother is really suffering and the baby might suffer too. In my case, I tried my hardest not to take any medications and followed the following tips: do not drink fluids on an empty stomach, eat simple, dry foods every 2-3 hours, take your vitamins after a meal, move calmly and last but not least, lie down and relax when feeling the nausea coming on.
It is crucial that women dealing with HG or even the usual morning sickness have a strong support group to look to when in need of help and positive energy so make sure to not overwhelm yourself and ask for help when you need it. Best wishes to all you pregnant women out there and if you are dealing with morning sickness or HG, best of luck and please do not hesitate to contact me via my Instagram handle if you have any questions or concerns.
The author is the wellness advocate and influencer @keys2balance.
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