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Severe Vomiting

Although morning sickness is completely normal during pregnancy, severe nausea and vomiting can, in rare cases, be a danger to you and your baby.

The condition is called hyperemesis gravidarum (HEG). It results in dehydration and the loss of at least 10 pounds. If you are unable to eat or drink anything for days, contact your doctor or midwife for help. You may need intravenous hydration and nutrients.

HEG is exhausting and emotionally distressing, but it usually has no impact on your baby. The cause is unknown, but in rare cases it might be an overactive thyroid or an abnormal pregnancy.

Living with HEG

You can do some things to lessen the effects of HEG and reduce the severity of your nausea.

  • Eat many small meals during the day.
  • Separate solid and liquid foods by at least two hours.
  • Eat bland foods.
  • Avoid bad odors.
  • Eat a few crackers before getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Sit upright for 45 minutes after eating.
  • Motion sickness bracelets or acupuncture may help.
  • Psychotherapy can reduce emotional stress.
  • Bedrest helps some women; for others, staying active at home and at work is better

Medical treatments

You may need medical treatment for your HEG. This can include:

  • Medications to decrease the feelings of nausea, most of which are safe in pregnancy.
  • Medications to decrease stomach acid.
  • A two-week course of steroids
  • Rarely, a feeding tube placed through the nose, past the stomach, and into the small intestine, for a week or so.
  • IV hydration and replacement of lost body salts. This treatment has a significant risk of complications, such as infection from the IV, and is only used after other treatments have failed.
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