What is it?
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
This isn’t your average morning sickness. I have had more days than I care to remember that I have vomited more than 30 times.
Beyond financial impact, many family relationships dissolve and future family plans are almost always limited. Women often lose their employment because of HG, and women are frequently undertreated and left feeling stigmatized by a disease erroneously presumed to be psychological.
And that might honestly be the worst part.
Here is some information from http://www.hyperemesis.org/hyperemesis-gravidarum/treatments/index.php
“Early, aggressive therapy can often result in fewer complications and reduce overall medical costs. Medications, bed rest, IV fluids, and nutritional therapy are typically the most effective therapies for HG. HG may last throughout pregnancy in varying severity. As each woman is different, it is most critical that therapies target a mother’s symptoms and response to treatment.
Women left untreated may terminate a wanted pregnancy to end the misery. Often secondary psychosocial challenges such as depression and anxiety result and complicate management (download research resultsPDF). Depression is a natural consequence of being confined to home or bed, and unable to perform even simple daily activities, much less care for one’s family. Further, the accompanying anxiety often results from the thought of vomiting and retching relentlessly for hours, as well as feeling severely nauseous in between. Many women fear dying and feel guilty that they may cause the death of their unborn child if they don’t force feed themselves, despite the inevitable vomiting that will follow. Treating the complex physiological changes that cause such severe symptoms can be very challenging.
Further, each woman will respond differently to treatments since the cause is multifactorial, so a single medication cannot be prescribed. It is becoming clear that proactive intervention with a treatment plan, can decrease both severity and duration, not to mention prevent many complications for many women. The challenge is finding the treatment that works for each woman.”
So the minute I found our I was pregnant again, I threw myself into research and I was blown away with all the new information and studies coming out about what causes HG and I felt so hopeful!
- Nutritional deficiencies: often women get diagnosed with nutritional deficiencies because of HG and after weeks of not keeping food down. BUT what if the women who are diagnosed with HG were already deficient in vital nutrients? They have linked Vitamin B, Calcium, and Magnesium deficiencies previous to pregnancy increases your risk of being diagnosed with HG!
- MTHFR Gene mutations: this link between this little know mutation and and HG is because people diagnosed with this mutation can not process folic acid, the synthetic form of Vitamin B (folate). Not only can they not absorb it, but it is toxic to them. The real issue is that most store bought bread, cereals, and foods, contain folic acid. Pregnancy throws a whole wrench is your body being able to compensate for these toxicities.
I immediately started working with an MD who specializes in deficiencies and we found I was seriously deficient in Vitamin B, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and my Ferritin levels were horrid (anemic). I also have children who all have every physical marker for the MTHFR gene mutation, which means most likely John and I both have it.
Darn it. And Yay!
I had answers.
But how? Our family eats so healthy. We cook from scratch, we love our fruit and veggies and we all take some of the BEST supplements on the market, so how could I possibly be struggling with my health?
Through research and talking with my doctor, I found out that dairy and grains (that contain phytic acid) both block your body from absorbing nutrients in the digestive tract. Feeding a family of 10 means there are grains at every meal.
I also met with a dear friend who is a master nutritionist who helped me find brands I could use knowing that I most likely had the MTHFR mutation. Luckily, my supplements are a food nutrient complex so they were perfect and only contain folate (not folic acid), but I still needed extra of a few key vitamins.
Armed with information and a plan, I felt extremely hopeful that this time, number 9, could be different. I was not unrealistic though either.
So…. has it been any different? Has our diet changes and supplement plan worked?
I still have hyperemesis gravidarum. It is part of my journey to bring life to the world. But, this time around has been different. I am sick 2-4 times a day versus 20-40 times a day. I made it all the way to 11 weeks before needing IV fluids. I have maintained my weight as I am able to keep food down all day long. I am able to fruit and veggies, which never would have stayed down before.
I don’t feel good. I am nauseous all day long… but I can shower and sometimes I even get dressed. Make up is not going to happen but I can be a mom. Most of the work is still falling on Johns shoulders, but I am not crippled. If I miss my vitamins, the next day is pure hell.
If I had to give it a number, I would say my sickness is 40% of what it was in previous pregnancies. That is HUGE.
Here is what I am taking:
I also made a mouth spray that helps quite bit our of water and peppermint oil (the beadlets were too overwhelming) and I found cinnamon oil on a toothpick helps keep my blood sugar balanced enough when I am too nauseous too eat much and that also helps with my nausea!
If you are struggling with morning sickness or HG, I would love to help! Know that there is hope.